Toad's leg found at Blick Mead dig
The English were feasting on frogs' legs up to 8,000 years before the French acquired a taste for them, archaeologists have claimed.
A dig at the Blick Mead site, just a mile from Stonehenge, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, led to the discovery of a charred toad's leg alongside small fish vertebrate bones of trout or salmon as well as burnt aurochs' bones (the predecessor of cows).
According to the researchers from the University of Buckingham, the find, which dates back to between 6250BC and 7596BC, is the earliest evidence of a cooked toad or frog anywhere in the world and 8,000 years earlier than the French and even before the Czechs who recently claimed it as a traditional dish.
David Jacques, senior research fellow in archaeology, said: "It would appear that thousands of years ago people were eating a Heston Blumenthal-style menu on this site, one-and-a-quarter miles from Stonehenge, consisting of toads' legs, aurochs, wild boar and red deer with hazelnuts for main, another course of salmon and trout and finishing off with blackberries.
"This is significant for our understanding of the way people were living around 5,000 years before the building of Stonehenge and it begs the question - where are the frogs now?"
The latest information is based on a report by fossil mammal specialist Simon Parfitt, of the Natural History Museum, who examined the discoveries from the dig which has resulted in 12,000 finds, including 650 animal bones, all from the mesolithic era.
Mr Jacques said that he hoped the discoveries would help confirm Amesbury as the oldest continuous settlement in the UK and the site includes one of the bigg est collection of flints and cooked animal bones in north-western Europe.
Andy Rhind-Tutt, chairman of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust and co-ordinator of the community involvement on the dig, said that the studies at Amesbury could help explain why Stonehenge was created.
He said: "No one would have built Stonehenge without there being something unique and really special about the area. There must have been something significant here beforehand and Blick Mead, with its constant temperature spring sitting alongside the River Avon, may well be it .
"I believe that as we uncover more about the site over the coming days and weeks, we will discover it to be the greatest, oldest and most significant mesolithic home base ever found in Britain.
"Currently Thatcham - 40 miles from Amesbury - is proving to be the oldest continuous settlement in the UK with Amesbury 104 years younger. By the end of this latest dig, I am sure the records will need to be altered."