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HCNRG Ancient Rivers, Early Humans: The River Thames 500,000 - 1 million years ago

24 January 2024
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Event type:
Regional Group, Lecture
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Home Counties North Regional Group
RSK, 18 Frogmore Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Event status:

Time and location

Venue opens and refreshments from 6.30pm, meeting starts at 7pm. RSK, 18 Frogmore Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP3 9RT

Event details

Kathryn’s lecture explores some of the interconnections between Pleistocene geology in southern England and early hominid archaeology. There are ongoing discussions and hypothesis concerning the role of estuarine and river landscapes with respect to the early colonisation(s) of Britain and indeed North-Western Europe and in particular the strengths of estuarine environments as a mosaic of resources to endue winter months (Ashton & Lewis 2012, Cohen et al 2012). This has become a more prominent discussion especially with the discovery and understanding of the sites along the Cromer – Forest Bed in Norfolk where, at present, the earliest presence of humans in Britain is recorded (Lewis et al 2019) at Happisburgh 3 (MIS 25/21) and Pakefield (MIS 19/17).

The research project is focussed solely on riparian landscapes in the very middle section of the Ancient Ancestral River Thames. The study area (between Reading and Beaconsfield) is approximately between 172km and 208km inland from what would have formed the estuarine landscape of the Thames. The project therefore is a detailed snapshot of an inland river system which has the potential of contributing significantly to the nature of what inland occupation consisted of in terms of early 'pioneer' hominin occupation and in broad terms its chronology.

Kathryn will present findings of this research so far, focussing on the fieldwork which has taken place in the study area over three seasons. The fieldwork was aimed to contextualise the river gravel deposits, sieve the gravels for potential human presence, and sample especially for clast lithology and dating - using the electron-spin resonance (ESR) dating technique. 

Speaker details

Kathryn M. Price. PhD Student at University of Reading & Department of Britain, Europe & Prehistory, British Museum

Kathryn holds a BSc (Hons) in Archaeology from University of Wales, Cardiff, an MA (distinction) in Human Origins and Palaeolithic Archaeology from Southampton University and some eighteen years' experience of working in Archaeology, Heritage and Museums. She has worked for a variety of organisations including English Heritage, Cotswold Archaeology and the Newport Medieval Ship in various roles of field, finds, environmental and archive archaeologist as well as a lithic specialist.

Kathryn has had the privilege of surveying, excavating, and handling Palaeolithic material from a wide geographical area on several international research projects partnered with various UK universities, including projects in South Africa, Georgia, France, India, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. She also previously worked as Assistant Curator in the National Museum of Qatar, as Archaeologist (Artefact Analysis) for Historic England and Heritage Officer for the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Her public outreach has included talks for local heritage groups, organising a Young Archaeologists' Club and facilitating hands on archaeology sessions in local primary schools.


This event is free of charge to all members of the Geological Society Home Counties North Regional Group. Priority will be given to Fellows and Student Members of the Geological Society who are members of the Home Counties North Regional Group.

Please book your places on a first-come-first-served basis by e-mail to [email protected]

Please provide your membership number when booking your place.