University of Nottingham

London before London: reconstructing a palaeolithic landscape

Project outline

Central London and its suburbs have produced a spectacular diversity of Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) remains, in association with some of the most important palaeoenvironmental information in western Europe for the Pleistocene period (last 2 million years, the 'Ice Age'). This project therefore sought not only to document the physical remains of Palaeolithic peoples and to reconstruct the dynamic earliest landscapes of London but also to explore the history of the collections in the context of 19th and early 20th century discoveries and knowledge.

London before London
London before London


The focus was on the Palaeolithic archaeological collections of central London and the boroughs held by the collaborative partner the Museum of London.

Thousands of artefacts and fossils from Palaeolithic archaeological collections from central London and the boroughs have been described and measured. The work was carried out predominantly in the Department of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum. Caroline also undertook visits to the British Geological Survey (BGS) at Keyworth, Nottingham, to record their Ilford holdings, as well as to various museum collections including Luton, Redbridge, Dartford , Wandsworth and Bromley.

Archival material (correspondence, obituaries) relating to significant amateur collectors (chiefly 19th Century), such as George Worthington Smith, John Allen Brown and Richard Payne Cotton, was gathered from the Society of Antiquaries, the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, the Ealing Local History Centre and other sources.

Caroline has presented her research at a number of conferences and has successfully published material from the project. She was awarded her PhD in 2011.   

Award details

Duration: 2006 - 2010

Principal Investigator:
Dr Danielle Schreve

Nominated student:
Caroline Juby

Higher Education Institution:
Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

Collaborating institution:
Museum of London (through Jon Cotton)

Collaborative partner

Museum of London logo 


Juby, C. (2008). London's palaeolithic past. In: Clark, J., Ross, C. and Hall, S. (2008). London: The Illustrated History. (Museum of London, Allen Lane).

Juby, C. (2008). London Before London: Piecing together London's Palaeolithic Past. London Archaeologist. 11 (12): 311-314.

Related links



Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071