Archaeology South-East


PalaeoLondon: Exploring Our City’s Deep Past

10 June 2021

UCL’s Archaeology South-East has embarked on a new initiative to bring the deep past of London alive for school children and the wider communities in the City.

Artwork showing a warm, grassland-like landscape. It features a sabre-toothed cat and kittens, two hippos swimming, and four straight-tusked elephants. A sketch of Nelson’s column is superimposed over the landscape. Copyright Tabitha Paterson 2021.

PalaeoLondon, supported by the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences Dean’s Strategic Fund, is working with educators across north London boroughs to develop resources and activities for young people.  London has an incredibly important Ice Age record of fossil mammals, including mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and hippo, as well as hundreds of stone tools left behind by extinct human species.

ASE's Dr Matt Pope and Letty Ingrey are working alongside Ice Age specialists Dr Tori Herridge and Dr Annemieke Milks and in partnership with UCL East’s Culture Lab and UCL Anthropocene. Together they are developing the networks and materials needed to make an impact.

The deep Ice Age record of the City has a lot to teach us about long term climate change, landscape evolution and human adaptation to change.  Such deep time scales have the potential to disrupt ideas of connection to the past through ancestry and reframe how we see the challenges of adaptation and resiliance in the face of Anthropocene climate change.

Early initiatives involve the creation of the London Mammoth Map, showing communities where their nearest records of Ice Age fossils have been found, and a ‘Hackney Hominins’ resource pack looking at early humans in North London.

Work in progress: an accessible and interactive map showing the location and details of Ice Age finds in London.

Building on the start given by the Dean’s Strategic Fund, the project aims to secure further funding to make a positive and sustainable impact on how people view the City’s deep past and Anthropocene Present.

In future years, once the pandemic allows, public events will be held and further teaching materials with be co-created with educators in the London area. These will address prehistory, human evolution, climate change and the deep roots of our Anthropocene challenges.

Follow the project using the hashtag #PalaeoLondon on Twitter.