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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Mark White

Ashton, N., Lewis, S., Parfitt, S., Candy, I., Keen, D., Kemp, R., Penkman, K., Thomas, G., Whittaker, J & White, M.J. (2005). Excavations at the Lower Palaeolithic Site at Elveden, Suffolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 71: 1-62.

Author(s) from Durham


The Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, was the subject of new excavations from 1995–1999. Excavations around the edge and in the centre of the former clay-pit revealed sediments infilling a lake basin that had formed in Lowestoft till, overlying Chalk, the till being attributed to the Anglian glaciation (MIS 12). The lake sediments contain pollen that can be assigned to pollen zones HoI and HoIIa of the early Hoxnian (MIS 11). Overlying grey clays contain ostracods, molluscs, vertebrates, and carbonate concretions. Together they are indicative of a fluvial environment in a temperate climate. AAR ratios (amino acid racemisation) on the molluscs also suggest correlation with MIS 11. Further indications of a fluvial context are indicated by thin spreads of lag gravel along opposite sides of the clay-pit, marking the edges of a channel. The gravel forms the raw material for the human industries which consist of handaxes, flake tools, flakes, and cores. Further artefacts are found in the overlying black clay, which is interpreted as a palaeosol that formed with the silting-up of the channel. The basin was further infilled with colluvial ‘brickearths’, which also contain artefacts that are probably derived from the underlying gravel. Further evidence of soil formation was identified in the ‘brickearth’. Coversands with periglacial involutions overlie the ‘brickearth’ at the top of the sequence. These probably formed in the last cold stage, the Devensian.