The First Britons
If the words British history conjure up images of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Boudica, Mary Seacole, The Beatles and the Blitz, you’re squinting at a small spec of the history of humanity of these Isles. Even if you go back to the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, or even further to the Iron Age or the Bronze Age, you’re still only looking at 1% of humankind’s story in this land.
This is a 900,000 year old story of ice ages, glaciers and hunter gatherers. Of lions, hyenas, hippos, rhinos and woolly mammoths. Of archaeological discoveries like Cheddar Man, who was once thought to be the oldest Englishman who ever lived.
The story of the First Britons is a story of a species that would come and go many times before calling this land home. A story that has travel, and the movement of people, at its heart.
So what do we know about these early migrants to Britain’s shores? Travel writer Noo Saro-Wiwa talks us through the story of the First Britons, while Dr Selina Brace explains how her team at the Natural History Museum were able to extract DNA from Cheddar Man. Produced by Mark Bowsher.