An 8,000-year-old human dwelling has been uncovered during construction of an airport runway on the Isle of Man, thought to be the island’s oldest. The startling breakthrough at Douglas Ronaldsway Airport was made just a year after experts unearthed a Bronze Age village nearby, which is believed to have been ravaged by fire in a prehistoric tragedy. A 5,000-year-old human skull has also been found in the area, as well as several artefacts including jewellery and over 12,000 woked pieces of flint. So far an area the size of over 20 football (soccer) pitches has been excavated, with many more finds expected until the project ends in December. And though radiocarbon dating results are yet to be confirmed, experts are confident this latest find is the island’s oldest; predating Stonehenge by up to 3,000 years.
Oxford Archaeology North (OAN)have taken on the mantle of the site’s excavation, with Manx National Heritage (MNH) paying close attention on behalf of the airport. MNH field archaeologist Andrew Johnson tells Isle of Man Today: “Archaeologists hesitate to call a structure of this kind a “house”, because the received wisdom is that 8,000 years ago people constantly moved through the landscape as nomads, gathering their food from the land, rather than staying put and farming and harvesting it. But this building was constructed from substantial pieces of timber, and had a hearth for cooking and warmth.
‘Its occupants lived here often, or long enough to leave behind over 12,000 pieces of worked flint together with the tools needed to flake them, and food debris in the form of hundreds of hazelnut shells.” The discovery is already garnering plenty of attention, with the BBC allegedly wanting to film an episode of their British Heritage series Coast in the area. Mr Johnson adds: “This is by far the largest archaeological project to have been undertaken on the Island. The discoveries have been first-class and are sure to revise and improve understanding of prehistoric life in the Isle of Man.”
Image by Charlie Dave.