Who is the oldest person you’ve been to Center Parcs with? Your 80-year-old granddad? Your middle-aged Mum? Well, they’re about to feel a few years younger – a few thousand years that is! Did you know that the old clay pit at Elveden shows evidence of early human existence dating back to 400,000 years ago?
If we take a step back in time, I can reveal that stone tools were first discovered in the 1980s during the build of Elveden Hall; many handaxes were found and collected, too. The pit was abandoned in 1918, leaving Cambridge University archaeologists to excavate the area in the late 1930s, and then by the British Museum from 1995-1999 – with the help of Time Team and TV-favourite Tony Robinson, of course.
From evidence found at nearby sites, it’s clear to see that during the time Elveden was inhabited, the humans were skilled hunters and had the ability to make fires. Although no human bones were found at Elveden, they are likely to have been a very early form of Neanderthal.
Like a scene straight out of a children’s book, the humans lived in a warmer climate in a grassland valley surrounded by deciduous woodland. And, instead of the squirrels, deer and birds we’re so used to seeing at Elveden Forest today, more exotic animals including elephants, rhino and lions would roam the area. What a Center Parcs nature walk that would have been to experience!
So, if Center Parcs had been around 400,000 years ago, what activities would you expect to see?