A LANDMARK discovery has shed new light on the origins of life in Britain, leaving archaeologists confident they finally know the identity of the country's oldest town.

It had long been believed Thatcham in Buckinghamshire was the oldest continuous settlement in the UK.

However, researchers at the Buckingham University believe Amesbury, which is 40 miles west and home to Stonehenge, holds the distinction of being the birthplace of history in Britain.

Loading article content

They say the new findings dismiss previous theories that the Wiltshire town was conceived by European immigrants. Relics uncovered during a search point to B­ritish settlers being behind the settlement, which dates back more than 10 millennia.

David Jacques, research fellow in archaeology at Buckingham University, said: "The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution (deemed the first agricultural revolution in Middle Eastern history) in a number of ways. It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building and presumably worshipping monuments.

"The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself. The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people. For years people have been asking 'why is Stonehenge where it is?' Now, at last, we have found the answers."

Carbon dating from an archaeological dig by the university shows the parish of Amesbury has been continually occupied for every millennia since 8820BC.