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When was Britain first colonised by early humans? The famous Boxgrove bones, found in the 1990s, date back about 500,000 years. Flints from the Cromer Forest Bed, Norfolk, though, are increasingly pointing to a much longer timeframe. We investigate how the story of human activity in Britain, currently the subject of a major Natural History Museum exhibition, has come to span almost one million years.

the subject of a major Natural History Museum exhibition, has come to span

You have probably heard that there is also something new to see at Stonehenge. We take a close look at the long-awaited visitor centre, and ask whether its opening marks the dawn of slow tourism or disenfranchises the ten-minute visitor. Chris Catling (p.22) and Andrew Selkirk (p.48) offer two contrasting takes on the successor to facilities once condemned as a ‘national disgrace’.

A recent arrival at RAF Museum Cosford is a relic of a very different national crisis. Dornier Do17 bombers were widely used by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. Now recovery of a unique survivor is shedding new light on a bomber arms-race, and the desperate aerial combat raging over England in 1940.

Traces of violence have been detected, too, on skulls deposited on the banks of the Walbrook in London. Dating to the Roman period, do these testify to a previously unknown blip in the pax Romana, or provide a grisly insight into public entertainment, criminal justice, or the treatment of prisoners of war?

Also this month, we travel to Winchester for a special news report on the latest attempt to recover the remains of a missing monarch.

Our contributors this month

THE SEARCH FOR ALFRED THE GREAT KATIE TUCKER Dr Tucker is a human osteologist and archaeologist who works in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Winchester, and also conducts research through the Department’s consultancy arm, ARCA.

COLONISING BRITAIN CHRIS STRINGER Prof. Stringer is Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum, and was Director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project. He has published widely on the subject and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

LAST OF THE MANY MICK SHEPHERD Mick served for 38 years as an aircraft engineer with the RAF before joining the RAF Museum, where he mentors and develops the historicaircraft engineering and conservator apprentices at the museum’s Cosford and London sites.

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