Scientists find evidence of wheat in UK 8,000 years ago

Congratulations to Simon Fitch (one of our recent new employees) on the successful publication in ‘Science’ (the worlds premier science journal). Simon is co-author of the paper that brings forward exciting new discoveries and illustrates¬†how Geospatial analysis can aid in the field of archaeology.

Fragments of wheat DNA recovered from an ancient peat bog suggests the grain was traded or exchanged long before it was grown by the first British farmers.

The research, published in Science, suggests there was a sophisticated network of cultural links across Europe.

The grain was found at what is now a submerged cliff off the Isle of Wight.

Farming of plants and animals first appeared in the Near East, with the technology spreading along two main routes into Europe.

The accepted date of arrival on the British mainland is around 6,000 years ago, as ancient hunter gatherers began to grow crops such as wheat and barley.

The DNA of the wheat – known as einkorn – was collected from sediment that was once a peat bog next to a river.

Scientists think traders arrived in Britain with the wheat, perhaps via land bridges that connected the south east coast of Britain to the European mainland, where they encountered a less advanced hunter gatherer society.

The wheat may have been made into flour to supplement the diet, but a search for pollen and other clues revealed no signs that the crop was grown in Britain until much later.

You can read more in the Science Journal, or on the BBC website which covered the story.

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