Monday, 26 March 2012
In recent years the two postal services which actually issue stamps in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Universal Mail United Kingdom and Royal Mail, have issued a number of interesting stamps which depict features of Britain's earliest history, or, pre-history. A species of man is thought to have been present in Britain as long ago as 800,000 BC as judged by the discovery of bones and flint tools in Norfolk and Suffolk. At that time Britain was linked by land to continental Europe with The English Channel existing only as a large river flowing westwards and fed by tributaries which were to later become the rivers Thames and Seine. Remains of Homo Heidelbergensis have been found at Boxgrove in Sussex and using hand axes these people hunted elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotami, herding them over cliffs and into bogs to more easily trap them. The onset of the Ice Age rendered Britain uninhabitable but humans reappeared in Britain during a warmer phase from about 300,000 to 200,000 years ago. The earliest remains of neanderthal man in Britain date from around 230,000 BC but subsequently sea levels rose and separated Britain from Europe and human activity in Britain gradually diminished and there is no evidence for any human activity in the islands during the period from 180,000 to 60,000BC. Subsequently, from 60,000 to 40,000 BC Britain was grassland populated by mammoths, giant deer and horses, rhinoceroses and wolves, bears and cats such as the sabre-toothed tiger. On 21 March 2006 Royal Mail issued a set of 5 stamps depicting prehistoric mammals from that period and as well as the stamps illustrated below the designs depicted a rhinoceros and a cave bear.