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Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River: human occupation in its stratigraphic context

This project has been funded through an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Awards Scheme.

Project Summary:

The Solent River was the largest river of southern England during the Quaternary (Ice Age) Period and a major gateway for early human populations entering Britain. Abundant early Palaeolithic artefacts are found in gravels that the river left behind. The main aim of the project is to achieve a better understanding of the nature and dating of this immense archaeological resource. Several major questions about early human occupation can be addressed through the archaeological record of the Solent River:

• When did humans first appear in the Solent Valley?

• When did handaxes and other technological innovations appear?

• Were there changes in population over time?

• How did the changing geography of Britain, in particular the formation of the English

Channel, affect occupation in this area?

Project contact details:

Project Researchers (PhD Candidates):

Rob Davis (University of Reading)

Marcus Hatch (Queen Mary, University of London)

Project Supervisors:

Dr Simon Lewis (Queen Mary, University of London)

Nick Ashton (British Museum)

Dr Rob Hosfield (University of Reading)

Dr Becky Briant (Birkbeck College, University of London)



Project Outputs:


Davis, R.J., Hatch, M., Ashton, N., Hosfield, R. & Lewis, S.G. 2016. The Palaeolithic record of Warsash, Hampshire, UK: implications for late Lower and early Middle Palaeolithic occupation history of Southern Britain. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 127: 558–574.

Hatch, M., Davis, R.J., Lewis, S.G., Ashton, N., Briant, R.M. & Lukas, S. 2017. The stratigraphy and chronology of the fluvial sediments at Warsash, UK: implications for the Palaeolithic archaeology of the River Test. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2016.12.001


Project Studentships:


PhD 1 (Marcus Hatch; Queen Mary, University of London): This PhD will concentrate on the stratigraphy and dating of the Solent River terraces and their correlation between tributaries by identifying key sites for studying the terrace gravels and using luminescence dating techniques to assess the age. This will be essential for understanding the changes in the archaeological record.

PhD 2 (Rob Davis; University of Reading): This PhD will focus on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic archaeology of the Solent River’s terrace deposits, identifying and analysing key collections and archives to assess the patterns of early human occupation in the region. New fieldwork will also be undertaken, to develop understanding of the contexts of the principal sites and artefact assemblages.

Current Project Research:

Select a work package from the list below (** access restricted to project members **):

Bournemouth Pilot

Lithic Analysis (Phase 1)

Borehole Dbase (GEO 1)

Warsash (GEO 2)

Stanswood Bay (GEO 3)


Project Archive

Page last edited: 17/01/2013 14:50