Stone Age Housing - Info for Keystage 2
Updated: Mar 2
The term “caveman” is thrown around a lot when it comes to studying the Stone Age and it can be quite misleading. By calling early Stone Age humans “cave-people” we are suggesting that they lived in caves. Which is true, Stone Age people did live in caves – but only sometimes.
Confusingly, “cavemen” didn’t always live in caves. Weird, huh?
I suppose “half-cave-man-and-half-basic-shelter-made-out-of-sticks-and-animal-hides-man” was a bit too complicated a name.
So where did Stone Age people actually live then? The answer to this question depends on what period of the Stone Age we are talking about.
The Early & Middle Stone Age
In the early and middle Stone Age (Palaeolithic and Mesolithic), humans travelled a lot to find food. This meant moving house a lot too. As these hunter-gatherer humans followed animal herds across the land or searched for greener pastures for foraging, they set up temporary shelter for themselves.
Caves were a quick and easy place to shelter. Humans would ensconce themselves in the mouth of the cave; where it was cool during the summer but warm and dry in the winter. They created grass bedding for themselves and decorated the cave walls with Cave Paintings.
If there were no caves nearby (or worse, it was inhabited by a cave bear or a pack wolves!), then Stone Age humans would create temporary structures by making a frame out of branches, animal bones or tusks and then covering it with animal hides. Some of these temporary shelters were also easily portable, meaning people could pack them up and carry them on their travels, a bit like modern day campers do with tents.
The New Stone Age
It wasn’t until the new Stone Age (Neolithic) that humans began to settle in one place. By this time, they had taken a serious interest in farming which meant they didn’t have to chase herds of animals around the country. Instead, they could raise their own livestock or grow their own crops, all from the comfort of their own home. They would often base themselves near rivers, that way if the crops didn't grow or the livestock died, then they could still fish for food.
At this time, humans created stronger, permanent shelters, often made from timber, stones or wattle and daub (a frame of sticks coated with mud or clay). The roof would have been made from straw layered across the top of the structure. Stone Age houses in settlements such as Skara Brae even had furniture!
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