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New Radiocarbon Dates Show Early Neolithic Date of Flint-Mining and Stone Quarrying in Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2019

Kevan Edinborough*
Institute of Archaeology, University College London 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom Melbourne Dental School, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia
Stephen Shennan*
Institute of Archaeology, University College London 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
Anne Teather
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom
Jon Baczkowski
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BF, United Kingdom
Andrew Bevan
Institute of Archaeology, University College London 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
Richard Bradley
Department of Archaeology, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 217, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB, United Kingdom
Gordon Cook
Scottish Universities Environmental Research CentreRadiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride G75 0QF, United Kingdom
Tim Kerig
University of Leipzig, Historisches Seminar Lehrstuhl für Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Ritterstr. 14, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
Mike Parker Pearson
Institute of Archaeology, University College London 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
Alexander Pope
Department of Archaeology, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 217, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB, United Kingdom
Peter Schauer
Institute of Archaeology, University College London 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
*Corresponding authors. Emails:;
*Corresponding authors. Emails:;


New radiocarbon (14C) dates suggest a simultaneous appearance of two technologically and geographically distinct axe production practices in Neolithic Britain; igneous open-air quarries in Great Langdale, Cumbria, and from flint mines in southern England at ~4000–3700 cal BC. In light of the recent evidence that farming was introduced at this time by large-scale immigration from northwest Europe, and that expansion within Britain was extremely rapid, we argue that this synchronicity supports this speed of colonization and reflects a knowledge of complex extraction processes and associated exchange networks already possessed by the immigrant groups; long-range connections developed as colonization rapidly expanded. Although we can model the start of these new extraction activities, it remains difficult to estimate how long significant production activity lasted at these key sites given the nature of the record from which samples could be obtained.

Research Article
Radiocarbon , Volume 62 , Issue 1 , February 2020 , pp. 75 - 105
© 2019 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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