Swanscombe


  • Period : Palaeolithic
  • Type: Heritage Park
  • Address: Craylands Lane, Swanscombe, DA10 0LP
  • OS Grid Ref:

The world famous Palaeolithic Swanscombe site (Kent) was made into a Heritage Park in 2005 and opened by Time Team's flintknapper Phil Harding. The park lies in a former gravel quarry known as Barnfield Pit and is very close to the Baker's Hole site to Swanscombe's east. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The huge steel handaxe sculpture at the entrance to the park is by landscape architects David Robison and Peter Greenstreet, fabrication and installation by Bob Hogben.

The area became important on 29th June 1935, when dentist Alvan T Marston found part of a skull of a young woman; then nine months later, on 15th March 1936 he found a second part of the cranium. A third part of the same skull was found 30th July 1955 by John Wymer around 24m from Marston's two discoveries. The estimated age of the cranium fragments is 200,000 - 300,000 years old, with approximate brain size of 1325cc and bones which are very thick, showing both primitive and modern features, suggesting she was both a descendant of Boxgrove Man and a distant ancestor of the Neanderthals.

Environmental evidence from Barnfield Pit suggests that she lived in relatively open grassland conditions as evidenced by the large number of horse and wild ox remains retrieved from the site. Fossil pollen indicates that hazel, alder, pine and oak trees bordered the river.

The skull fragments and some flint tools from Swanscombe can be found at the Natural History Museum in London.

A replica of the skull can also be seen at the Dartford Borough Museum.

Further excavations between 1968-1972 by Dr. John d'Arcy Waechter, recovered more flint tools and confirmed the position of the former shoreline that the bones were found on.

>> Click on either image above to reveal the plague below <<

The Heritage Park is now fully accessible with paths and trails to the key locations (such as the skull find area), useful information plagues and a free car park. Well worth 30-60 minutes walk around, however there are no other facilities on-site. 

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