Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Mesolithic gourmets enjoyed Heston Blumenthal diet...

 Heston Blumenthal.  New evidence from Wiltshire dig suggests that his ancestors were Mesolithic chefs in Wiltshire......

Wonderful news from Wiltshire, in case you missed it.  David Jacques and others are being VERY enthusiastic, and employing all the usual superlatives:  "........the greatest, oldest and most significant Mesolithic home base ever found in Britain."  Er, excuse me, but didn't we know already that Mesolithic people ate rather an interesting mixture of things, just as the Palaeolithics did before them?  Never mind -- don't want to spoil a good story......  but this is typical of the way in which the froth gets maximum media exposure, and the substance is ignored.  It was probably always thus.
Frogs' legs may have been English delicacy 8,000 years before France

Dig at Blick Mead, Wiltshire, a mile from Stonehenge, turns up bones of toad's leg dating to between 7596BC and 6250BC
Mark Brown, arts correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 16 October 2013

If you're French, asseyez-vous, s'il vous plait. Archaeologists digging about a mile away from Stonehenge have made a discovery that appears to overturn centuries of received wisdom: frogs' legs were an English delicacy around eight millennia before becoming a French one.

The shock revelation was made public on Tuesday by a team which has been digging at a site known as Blick Mead, near Amesbury in Wiltshire. Team leader David Jacques said: "We were completely taken aback."

In April they discovered charred bones of a small animal, and, following assessment by the Natural History Museum, it has been confirmed that there is evidence the toad bones were cooked and eaten. "They would have definitely eaten the leg because it would have been quite big and juicy," said Jacques.

The bones, from a Mesolithic site that Jacques is confident will prove to be the oldest continuous settlement in the UK, have been dated to between 7596BC and 6250BC.

And it's not just toads' legs. Mesolithic Wiltshire man and woman were enjoying an attractive diet. "There's basically a Heston Blumenthal menu coming out of the site," said Jacques. "We can see people eating huge pieces of aurochs, cows which are three times the size of a normal cow, and we've got wild boar, red deer and hazelnuts.

"There were really rich food resources for people and they were eating everything that moved but we weren't expecting frogs' legs as a starter."

The discovery is entertaining, but has a wider importance, said Jacques, as it adds to evidence that there was a near-3,000-year use of the site. "People are utilising all these resources to keep going and it is clearly a special place for the amount of different types of food resources to keep them going all year round. Frogs' legs are full of protein and very quick to cook: the Mesolithic equivalent of fast food."

Jacques is senior research fellow in archaeology at the University of Buckingham which is funding a new dig on the site. He said it was looking increasingly likely that the site was the "cradle to Stonehenge" which was built around 5,000 years later.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, chairman of Amesbury museum and heritage trust, said: "No one would have built Stonehenge without there being something unique and really special about the area. There must have been something significant here beforehand, and Blick Mead, with its constant temperature spring sitting alongside the River Avon, may well be it.

"I believe that as we uncover more about the site over the coming days and weeks we will discover it to be the greatest, oldest and most significant Mesolithic home base ever found in Britain."


geocur said...

There is always the relatively local and later "stew" from Barclodiad which also had some frog as well as wrasse , hare ,snake and mouse, not sure whether the gourmand was homo sap or animal though .

chris johnson said...

At least they do not appear to have been eating each other, although where the bodies did end up must be a puzzle.

Anonymous said...

I do have my doubts about Mr Bacon Rind-Turtles hypothesis regarding the significance of the constant temperature spring.

I think he'll find that most of the karst springs surrounding both the chalk downland, and the limestone uplands of the Mendip Hills, maintain a constant temperature!


Andy said...

Yes, but something was happening there, over a very long period, given the huge number of finds comming out of the site. Certainly interesting.

Anonymous said...


chris johnson said...

Thanks for the link Pete. Very interesting summary.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Interesting, and as blinkered and biased as ever. Will shortly do a post on it......