The timing of Aurignacian occupation of the British Peninsula

Rob Dinnis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Unlike regions farther south, the timing of the appearance of the Aurignacian in the far northwest of Europe is very poorly defined. This is the result of a less abundant archaeological record and problems associated with its early excavation. Here, comparison is made between characteristic British Aurignacian artefacts and those from well-stratified continental assemblages. Burin busqué bladelet cores are present in British collections, and these are technologically indistinguishable from those found in continental Europe. The technological complexity of these artefacts allows the conclusion that the Aurignacian first appeared on the British peninsula c. 32 000 14C BP, or c. 37 000 years ago, at a time when the same burin busqué bladelet production method was being employed in southwestern France and in Belgium. The few radiocarbon measurements that date the British Aurignacian directly accord with this conclusion. The northward extension of the Aurignacian into Britain apparently occurred during or shortly after a particularly pronounced and prolonged warm climatic oscillation. This climatic event may suffice as explanation for the late appearance of the Aurignacian in Britain relative to other parts of Europe. The presence of two main methods of bladelet production probably indicates that Britain was the subject of two or more periods of Aurignacian occupation. The precise timing of what is interpreted as the later occupation is currently uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Britain
  • Chronology
  • Early upper palaeolithic
  • Lithic technology
  • Northwestern Europe


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