Eartham Pit, Boxgrove
When excavations began in 1983, flint tools 500,000 years old were discovered. At that time this was the oldest evidence of humans discovered in the UK. In 2005 flint tools 700,000 years old were discovered at Pakefield, and in 2010 flint tools at least 800,000 years old were discovered at Happisburgh. However, Boxgrove remains a site of great importance, for many reasons. The tools were found in a largely undisturbed state, in situ in their prehistoric landscape. The tools and evidence of the landscape were buried several metres down.
There were many well-preserved animal bones, many flint artifacts, and hominid bones which are among some of the most ancient found in Europe. Several of the animal bones are the oldest found specimens of their species, such as the wing bone of the Great Auk found at the site in 1989. The combination of bones, stone artifacts, and the geology of the landscape gives a very complete picture of the coastal plain as it existed half a million years ago.
Parts of the site complex were excavated between 1983 and 1996 by a team led by Mark Roberts of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. The site is in an area that features a buried chalk cliff that overlooked a flat beach (which contained a waterhole) stretching around half a mile (1 km) south to the sea.
In 1994 archaeologists unearthed a lower hominin tibia bone at the Boxgrove quarry site. This partial leg bone is dated to between 478,000 and 524,000 years old. Several teeth were also found. These remains were assigned to Homo heidelbergensis, an early proto-human species which occupied France and Great Britain. Both were connected by a land bridge at the time.