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Mammoth graveyard with remains of adults and babies dug up by UK archaeologists

A 200,000-year-old mammoth graveyard described as "one of Britain's biggest Ice Age discoveries in recent years" has been unearthed by archaeologists at a quarry.

The team unearthed the remains of five of the prehistoric beasts near Swindon, Wiltshire – two adults, two juveniles and a baby mammoth.

Digging at the site began after two keen amateur fossil hunters, Sally and Neville Hollingworth, spotted a Neanderthal hand axe at the site.

Experts from DigVentures, an archaeology social enterprise, then went on to find remains belonging to a species of Steppe mammoth, an ancestor of the woolly mammoth.

Delicate beetle wings and fragile freshwater snail shells as well as stone tools from the Neanderthal age were also found at the site.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, from DigVentures, said: "Finding mammoth bones is always extraordinary, but finding ones that are so old and well preserved, and in such close proximity to Neanderthal stone tools is exceptional.

"Words can’t quite capture the thrill of seeing a mammoth tusk still in the ground, or the feeling of standing in the middle of a site that has the potential to change how we see our closest human relatives and the Ice Age megafauna they shared their world with."

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Ms Hollingworth, of Swindon, told the BBC: "We were originally hoping to find marine fossils, and finding something so significant instead has been a real thrill.

"Even better than that is seeing it turn into a major archaeological excavation

"We couldn't be more pleased that something we've discovered will be learned from and enjoyed by so many people."

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Research is ongoing to understand why so many mammoths were found in one place, and whether they were hunted or scavenged by Neanderthals.

Duncan Wilson, chief Executive of Historic England, said: "This represents one of Britain's most significant Ice Age discoveries in recent years.

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"The findings have enormous value for understanding the human occupation of Britain, and the delicate environmental evidence recovered will also help us understand it in the context of past climate change."

DigVentures is a team of archaeologists who also organise archaeological digs that are open to members of the public to join.

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