The distribution of known Palaeolithic sites in Wales

1 Cefn Cave
2 Coygan Cave
3 Kendrick's Cave
4 Paviland Cave
5 Pontnewydd Cave



The Palaeolithic in Wales

The term ‘Palaeolithic’, meaning Old Stone Age, covers a vast time span. In northern Europe it stretches from some 800,000 to 12,000 years ago, covering a startling 98.5% of the time that modern and pre-modern humans are known to have occupied what we now call Britain. However, it is also the least known period of British archaeology due to the sparseness of the evidence. Palaeolithic sites in Wales are rare in comparison to the lowlands and river valleys of south and east England that appear to have been more favourable for habitation.

The Palaeolithic in Britain has been divided into the Lower (approximately 800,000 – 180,000 years ago), Middle (180,000-40,000 years ago) and Upper (40,000-12,000 years ago). Four Ice Ages are known to have occurred during this period, the last ending around 12,000 years ago, with interglacials of more temperate conditions between. At the beginning of the Palaeolithic there was no British Isles as we know today, and wouldn’t be for thousands of years, as it formed part of one landmass that included Europe, Asia and Africa.