Migrations and arrivals

Happisburgh: the oldest human footprints outside Africa

Happisburgh is located on the Norfolk coast, in an area of heavy erosion where the land is constantly being eaten up by the sea.

This coastal erosion has resulted in some of the most incredible Stone Age archaeological findings in recent memory.

Happisburgh: key features

  • Stone Age archaeological deposits often visible eroding from the cliffs
  • The oldest archaeological site in northern Europe, 800,000 years old
  • The oldest footprints outside Africa
  • The Happisburgh handaxe, 500,000 years old, discovered by a dog-walker
  • Remains of ancient animals, including giant beaver and mammoth

Send a Postcard

postcard happisburgh

Photogrammetry showing ancient footprints discovered on Happisburgh beach (Happisburgh 3D model © Sarah M Duffy, CL/Happisburgh Footprint Project), and Manga style cartoon of Grimes Graves excavations (Hugo Yoshikawa)


Principal Investigator: Dr Simon Kaner,
Sainsbury Institute, University of East Anglia


Co-Investigator: Dr Sam Nixon
Sainsbury Institute, University of East Anglia



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Human migrations and first footprints worldwide

Ancient footprints discovered

Tanzania: East Africa

The earliest evidence for humans is from East Africa, dating to over 3 million years ago - the oldest footprints in the world are found at Laetoli in Tanzania, from around 2 million years before humans first arrived in Happisburgh
Ancient footprints discovered in East Africa - Credit: Raffaello PellizzonAncient footprints discovered in East Africa - Credit: Raffaello Pellizzon

Preserved forest floor

Tomizawa: Japan

Palaeolithic landscapes like those seen at Happisburgh are found worldwide, including the incredible preserved forest floor at Tomizawa in Japan
Tomizawa artefactsTomizawa artefacts