Archaeologists Find Homes of Europe’s First Monument Builders, and They’re Fortified

Over 6,300 years ago, prehistoric people at the cusp of the Neolithic Revolution in France built a handful of large wooden houses, surrounded by a doubled fortification fence made of wooden stakes. All this was surrounded by a ditch. Beyond these defenses, the traces of two more wooden structures were found.

In fact, this fortified compound at the Le Peu archaeological site near Charmé, a village in southwestern France, is one of hundreds of enclosures erected between the Loire and Dordogne rivers thousands of years ago, says Dr. Vincent Ard from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, lead author of a paper published Tuesday in the journal Antiquity.

Whether these structures were actual houses or were used for some other purpose isn’t clear, but Ard and the team believe they have found very rare traces of homes belonging to the people responsible for the earliest monumental stone construction in western Europe.

Le Peu dates to a few centuries after labor-intensive monumental stone construction – megaliths, monoliths, stone circles, dolmens, et cetera – began in western Europe, apparently starting in France about 6,500 years ago.