History of Cheshire: Prehistory (400,000 – 380,000 BP)

Cheshire has a long yet little known history. Most literature about Cheshire’s history starts with the Roman occupation. There has been little research on the Prehistoric era, but what we do know shows interesting patterns and reveal an insight into the Hoxnian Stage.

Cheshire sporadically lay under ice until the end of the Younger Dryas ice age; this was about 11,500 years ago. Despite the horrid conditions, there has been discoveries of primitive tools that date back to the Hoxnian Interglacial, between 400,000- and 380,000-years BP. This shows that Cheshire was probably inhabited by the species Homo heidelbergensis at that time.

Permanent Occupation in Prehistoric Cheshire

The prehistoric history of Cheshire does not stop there. There is also evidence of Old Stone Age, also known as Palaeolithic, occupation. Axe Heads were found at Tatton dating back to 10,000 BC. But there has been evidence of more permanent occupation of Cheshire that dates to the New Stone Age, or the Neolithic era.

For example, a chambered tomb, known as the Bridestones, was discovered near Congleton, Cheshire. It belongs to a prehistoric culture that is known for its practice of collective burial in stone-built chambers that were kept beneath mounds of earth and stone. The Bridestones is the oldest megalithic structure in all of Cheshire, and it is an important symbol of Cheshire’s history.

The Bronze and Iron Ages

During the Bronze Age, the prehistoric society in Cheshire shifted towards a more military society. This was demonstrated by the occupation of upland hill sites at Beeston Castle and Eddisbury hill fort.

Cheshire became occupied by the Celtic Cornovii in the Iron Age. The Cornovii tribe were known to trade in salt from mines at Middlewich and Northwich. Their prehistoric capital was based at The Wrekin, Shropshire.