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Westoning Before 1086

The Old Stone Age, or Palaeolithic, lasted from the appearance of modern humans, around 2.5 million years ago, to somewhere around to about 8000 BC and was succeeded by the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic. At this remote time, humans began to make stone tools and began to domesticate animals in agriculture. No definite record of any stone tools from this epoch exists for Westoning.

The Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic, lasted from about 8000 BC to about 3500 BC and was succeeded by the New Stone Age, or Neolithic. At this time, families of hunter gatherers roamed across the country, making brief stops before moving on. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record records three instances of finds of tools in Westoning dating from this ancient time. A number of unspecified Mesolithic flint tools are known to have been found north-west of Redcaps in Wood End [HER 2765]. A Mesolithic scraper blade was found east of the railway line and directly east of the junction of the High Street and Greenfield Road [HER 3660] and a Mesolithic flake or tool was found south of the junction of Greenfield Road with the road leading to Clayhill Farm [HER 3661].

The New Stone Age, or Neolithic, lasted from about 3500 BC to about 1600 BC. It was preceded by the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic and was succeeded by the Bronze Age. At this time families began to settle in areas and farm cereal crops as well as keeping livestock. This development in places such as Mesopotamia and Egypt marks the beginnings of what is commonly thought of as civilization. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record notes that a Neolithic axe was found in Westoning in 1857, the precise location not being recorded [HER 235].

The Historic Environment Record also notes two finds of flint tools which may either be Neolithic of Bronze Age in date. Flint tools continued to be used throughout the Bronze Age as, in areas where flint was easily obtainable, it was easier to make them than to cast bronze implements. Neolithic/Bronze Age flints were discovered by field walking east of High Thatch and the M1 [HER 15835]. The assemblage contained blades, cores, flakes and scraper tools. [16094] Field walking north-west of Wood End produced a few flint cores, more blades and scraper tools and a large quantity of flakes. The Record [HER 16094] states "It is thought that the finds indicate the presence of a settlement at this site in this period." There was certainly an Iron Age settlement nearby [see below].

The Bronze Age lasted from around 1600 BC, to somewhere around 600 BC. It was preceded by the New Stone Age or Neolithic and was succeeded by the Iron Age. At this time casting and use of Bronze implements became widespread. No specifically Bronze Age material or sites have been identified in Westoning.

The Iron Age lasted from around 600 BC until the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD and the subsequent gradual colonization of England and Wales.  It was preceded by the Bronze Age. At this time casting and use of iron implements became widespread and at least by the latter part of the Iron Age the tribes referred to by Roman historians had settled territories. The tribe associated with what is now Bedfordshire were the Catuvellauni, one of the most powerful tribes, it is believed, in the southern part if Britain in the century or so before the Roman Conquest. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER 15836] describes a middle Iron Age settlement site discovered by field walking and trial trenches north-west of Wood End Farm, close to the parish boundary with Tingrith. Occupation extended into the Romano-British period.

The Romans invaded Britain in 43AD during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD). It took a number of years to subdue what is today England and Wales. The Romans eventually left Britain, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 410AD (the Chronicle is made up of a number of different versions one of which says, for 410, "In this year the Goths stormed Rome and the Romans never afterwards reigned in Britain"). The site which seems to have originated in the middle Iron Age, as outlined above is described by the HER as follows: "Two phases of activity were identified, Phase 1 was comprised of features associated with assemblages of grog temper pottery, suggesting sporadic activity on the site. Phase 2 included the bulk of the material recovered, and was mainly of a mid to late Roman date. The pottery included cooking pots and storage jars along with a high percentage of imports.

Around 1864 a cover, known as a patera, of "rough Samian ware" was discovered at an unrecorded site in Westoning [HER 1439]. Samian ware was high quality red pottery made in Gaul from the 1st to mid 3rd centuries AD.