MIS 13–12 in Britain and the North Atlantic: understanding the palaeoclimatic context of the earliest Acheulean

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Research over the last two decades has revealed a rich record of Lower Palaeolithic occupation in Britain prior to 450,000 yrs. Acheulean industries (Mode II) first appear in the later part of the early Middle Pleistocene (EMP, MIS 19-13). This paper reviews: 1) the age of the earliest Acheulean in Britain, 2) the climates under which the earliest Acheulean industries occur, as recorded by the palaeoecological assemblages that are found at key archaeological sites and 3) the spatial and temporal pattern of regional climate change, i.e. the magnitude of glacial/interglacial cycles that occurred as a backdrop to the first arrival of Mode II archaeology in Britain. This review suggests that in Britain, the earliest Acheulean populations arrived during MIS 13 and that early occupation occurred under a range of climatic/environmental settings but frequently under post-temperate late interglacial or interstadial-type cool boreal environments. Furthermore, this review shows that the pattern of climate forcing in western Europe during MIS 13-12 was not analogous to the interglacial cycles of the past 450,000 yrs since latitudinal climate gradients appear to have been less pronounced. The paper concludes by discussing the significance of these observations for understanding the arrival of the earliest Acheulean in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-509
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number7
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2015


  • Acheulean, Britain, interglacial, lower Palaeolithic, early middle Pleistocene

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