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London’s earliest timber structure found on building site

A timber structure that is older than Stonehenge has been unearthed by university archaeologists in Plumstead.
The structure was found during the excavation of a prehistoric peat bog next door to Belmarsh Prison in Plumstead, Greenwich, prior to the construction of a new prison building.

Radiocarbon dating has shown the structure to be nearly 6,000 years old – predating Stonehenge by more than 500 years. The structure consisted of a timber platform or trackway found at a depth of 4.7m (about the height of a double decker bus) beneath two metres of peat next to an ancient river channel (image available).

Previously, the oldest timber structure in Greater London was the timber trackway in Silvertown, which has been dated to 3340-2910 BC, c. 700 years younger.

Archaeology South-East senior archaeologist Diccon Hart, who directed the excavation, commented: “The discovery of the earliest timber structure yet found in the London Basin is an incredibly exciting find.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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