Doggerland was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Great Britain to continental Europe. It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BC. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain's east coast to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and the peninsula of Jutland. It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period, although rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final submergence, possibly following a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide.
The archaeological potential of the area was first identified in the early 20th century, and interest intensified in 1931 when a fishing trawler operating east of the Wash dragged up a barbed antler point that was subsequently dated to a time when the area was tundra. Vessels have dragged up remains of mammoth, lion and other animals, as well as a few prehistoric tools and weapons.
Until the middle Pleistocene, Britain was a peninsula of Europe, connected by the massive chalk Weald–Artois Anticline across the Straits of Dover. During the Anglian glaciation, approximately 450,000 years ago, an ice sheet filled much of the North Sea, with a large proglacial lake in the southern part fed by the Rhine, Scheldt and Thames river systems. The catastrophic overflow of this lake carved a channel through the anticline, leading to the formation of the Channel River, which carried the combined Scheldt and Thames to the Atlantic. This probably created the potential for Britain to become isolated from the continent during periods of high sea level, although some scientists argue that the final break did not occur until a second ice-dammed lake overflowed during the MIS8 or MIS6 glaciations, around 340,000 or 240,000 years ago.
During the most recent glaciation of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended around 18,000 years ago, the North Sea and much of the British Isles were covered with glacial ice and the sea level was about 120 m (390 ft) lower. The climate later became warmer and during the Late Glacial Maximum around 12,000 BC Britain, as well as much of the North Sea and English Channel, was an expanse of low-lying tundra.
Evidence, including the contours of the present seabed, indicates that after the first main Ice Age, the watershed between the North Sea and English Channel extended east from East Anglia then south-east to the Hook of Holland, rather than across the Strait of Dover. The Seine, Thames, Meuse, Scheldt and Rhine rivers joined and flowed west along the English Channel as a wide slow river before eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean. At about 10,000 BC the north-facing coastal area of Doggerland had a coastline of lagoons, saltmarshes, mudflats and beaches as well as inland streams, rivers, marshes and lakes. It may have been the richest hunting, fowling and fishing ground in Europe in the Mesolithic period.
One big river system found by 3D seismic survey, undertaken by the Birmingham "North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project," was the "Shotton River", which drained the south-east part of the Dogger Bank hill area into the east end of the Outer Silver Pit lake. It is named after Birmingham geologist Frederick William Shotton.
As ice melted at the end of the last glacial period of the current ice age, sea levels rose and the land began to tilt in an isostatic adjustment as the huge weight of ice lessened. Doggerland eventually became submerged, cutting off what was previously the British peninsula from the European mainland by around 6500 BC. The Dogger Bank, an upland area of Doggerland, remained an island until at least 5000 BC. Key stages are now believed to have included the gradual evolution of a large tidal bay between eastern England and Dogger Bank by 9000 BC and a rapid sea-level rise thereafter, leading to Dogger Bank becoming an island and Great Britain becoming physically disconnected from the continent.
A recent hypothesis postulates that much of the remaining coastal land was flooded by a megatsunami around 6200 BC, caused by a submarine landslide off the coast of Norway known as the Storegga Slide. This suggests: "that the Storegga Slide tsunami would have had a catastrophic impact on the contemporary coastal Mesolithic population.... Britain finally became separated from the continent and in cultural terms, the Mesolithic there goes its own way." A study published in 2014 suggested that the only remaining parts of Doggerland at the time of the Storegga Slide were low-lying islands, but supported the view that the area had been abandoned at about the same time as the tsunamis.
Another view speculates that the Storegga tsunami devastated Doggerland but then ebbed back into the sea, and that later Lake Agassiz (in North America) burst releasing so much fresh water that sea levels over about two years rose to flood much of Doggerland and make Britain an island.
The prehistoric existence of what is now known as Doggerland was established in the late 19th century. H. G. Wells referred to the concept in his short story A Story of the Stone Age of 1897, set in "a time when one might have walked dryshod from France (as we call it now) to England, and when a broad and sluggish Thames flowed through its marshes to meet its father Rhine, flowing through a wide and level country that is under water in these latter days, and which we know by the name of the North Sea...Fifty thousand years ago it was, fifty thousand years if the reckoning of geologists is correct", though most of the action seems to occur in what is now Surrey and Kent, but stretching out to Doggerland.
The remains of plants brought to the surface from Dogger Bank were studied in 1913 by paleobiologist Clement Reid, and the remains of animals and worked flints from the Neolithic period had also been found. In his book The Antiquity of Man of 1915, anatomist Sir Arthur Keith discussed the archaeological potential of the area. In 1931, the trawler Colinda hauled up a lump of peat whilst fishing near the Ower Bank, 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Norfolk. The peat was found to contain a barbed antler point, possibly used as a harpoon or fish spear, 220 millimetres (8.5 in) long, which dated from between 4,000 and 10,000 BC when the area was tundra.
Interest was reinvigorated in the 1990s by Bryony Coles, who named the area "Doggerland" ("after the great banks in the southern North Sea") and produced speculative maps of the area. Although she recognised that the current relief of the southern North Sea seabed is not a sound guide to the topography of Doggerland, this topography has more recently begun to be reconstructed more authoritatively using seismic survey data obtained from oil exploration. Between 2003 and 2007 a team at the University of Birmingham led by Vince Gaffney and Ken Thomson mapped around 23,000 square kilometres (8,900 square miles) of the Early Holocene landscape, using seismic data provided for research by Petroleum Geo-Services, as part of the work of the University of Birmingham North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project. The results of this study were published as a technical monograph and a popular book on the history and archaeology of Doggerland. Names have been given to some of its features: "The Spines" to a system of dunes above the broad "Shotton River", the upland area of the "Dogger Bank", a basin between two huge sandbanks called "The Outer Silver Pit".
A skull fragment of a Neanderthal, dated at over 40,000 years old, was recovered from material dredged from the Middeldiep, some 16 kilometres (10 mi) off the coast of Zeeland, and exhibited in Leiden in 2009. In March 2010 it was reported that recognition of the potential archaeological importance of the area could affect the future development of offshore wind farms.
In July 2012, the results of study of Doggerland by the universities of Birmingham, St Andrews, Dundee, and Aberdeen, including surveys of artefacts, were displayed at the Royal Society summer exhibition in London. Richard Bates of St Andrews University said:
We have speculated for years on the lost land's existence from bones dredged by fishermen all over the North Sea, but it's only since working with oil companies in the last few years that we have been able to re-create what this lost land looked like.... We have now been able to model its flora and fauna, build up a picture of the ancient people that lived there and begin to understand some of the dramatic events that subsequently changed the land, including the sea rising and a devastating tsunami.
Since 2015, the University of Bradford's Europe's Lost Frontiers project has continued mapping the prehistoric landscapes of Doggerland and has used this data to direct a programme of extensive coring of marine palaeochannels. Sediment from the cores has provided sedimentary DNA as well as conventional environmental data and these will be used in a major computational modelling programme replicating colonisation of the submerged landscape.
The year 2009 in archaeologyAtlantis
Atlantis (Ancient Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, "island of Atlas") is a fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato's works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges "Ancient Athens", the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato's ideal state in The Republic. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato's concept of a state. The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favor with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite its minor importance in Plato's work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature. The allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and Thomas More's Utopia. On the other hand, nineteenth-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato's narrative as historical tradition, most notably in Ignatius L. Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato's vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his time—and the alleged location of Atlantis—"beyond the Pillars of Hercules"—has led to much pseudoscientific speculation. As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire contemporary fiction, from comic books to films.
While present-day philologists and classicists agree on the story's fictional character, there is still debate on what served as its inspiration. As for instance with the story of Gyges, Plato is known to have freely borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors from older traditions. This led a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War. Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato created an entirely fictional nation as his example, drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events such as the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC.Bryony Coles
Bryony Jean Coles, (born 12 August 1946) is a prehistoric archaeologist and academic. She is best known for her work studying Doggerland, an area of land now submerged beneath the North Sea.Clement Reid
Clement Reid FRS (6 January 1853 – 10 December 1916) was a British geologist and palaeobotanist.Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank (Dutch: Doggersbank, German: Doggerbank, Danish: Doggerbanke) is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about 100 kilometres (62 mi) off the east coast of England.
During the last ice age the bank was part of a large landmass connecting Europe and the British Isles, now known as Doggerland. It has long been known by fishermen to be a productive fishing bank; it was named after the doggers, medieval Dutch fishing boats especially used for catching cod.
At the beginning of the 21st century the area was identified as a potential site for a UK round 3 wind farm, being developed as Dogger Bank Wind Farm.History of the horse in Britain
The known history of the horse in Britain starts with horse remains found in Pakefield, Suffolk, dating from 700,000 BC, and in Boxgrove, West Sussex, dating from 500,000 BC. Early humans were active hunters of horses, and finds from the Ice Age have been recovered from many sites. At that time, land which now forms the British Isles was part of a peninsula attached to continental Europe by a low-lying area now known as "Doggerland", and land animals could migrate freely between what is now island Britain and continental Europe. The domestication of horses, and their use to pull vehicles, had begun in Britain by 2500 BC; by the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, British tribes could assemble armies which included thousands of chariots.
Horse improvement as a goal, and horse breeding as an enterprise, date to medieval times; King John imported a hundred Flemish stallions, Edward III imported fifty Spanish stallions, and various priories and abbeys owned stud farms. Laws were passed restricting and prohibiting horse exports and for the culling of horses considered undesirable in type. By the 17th century, specific horse breeds were being recorded as suitable for specific purposes, and new horse-drawn agricultural machinery was being designed. Fast coaches pulled by teams of horses with Thoroughbred blood could make use of improved roads, and coaching inn proprietors owned hundreds of horses to support the trade. Steam power took over the role of horses in agriculture from the mid-19th century, but horses continued to be used in warfare for almost another 100 years, as their speed and agility over rough terrain remained unequalled. Working horses had all but disappeared from Britain by the 1980s, and today horses in Britain are kept almost wholly for recreational purposes.Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands. A land bridge can be created by marine regression, in which sea levels fall, exposing shallow, previously submerged sections of continental shelf; or when new land is created by plate tectonics; or occasionally when the sea floor rises due to post-glacial rebound after an ice age.Lemuria (continent)
Lemuria or Limuria is a hypothetical lost land located either in the Indian or the Pacific Ocean, as postulated by a now-discredited 19th-century scientific theory. The idea was then adopted by the occultists of the time and consequently has been incorporated into pop culture. Some Tamil writers have associated it with Kumari Kandam, a mythical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization located south of present-day India in the Indian Ocean.Lofts Farm Pit
Lofts Farm Pit is a 4.5 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Heybridge, a suburb of Maldon in Essex. It is a Geological Conservation Review site.Many fossils have been found at the former gravel pit dating to the last Ice Age, 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. Finds included reindeer, woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros. They date to a period when what is now the North Sea was Doggerland, and the River Blackwater was a tributary of the Thames/Medway river.The site has been converted into a lake and there is no public access.Outer Silver Pit
The Outer Silver Pit is a west-to-east valley in the bed of the North Sea. Its widest part is 125 to 175 km (75 to 105 miles) east of Flamborough Head in England. It is between the Dogger Bank and the ridge dividing the northern from the southern North Sea basins, which runs between Norfolk and Friesland.
When the sea level was lower (such as in the Ice Age) it was a lake in Doggerland, and sea-bed-penetrating sonar bathymetry has found its shorelines and courses and estuaries of rivers that ran into it from the high land of the Dogger Bank; it overflowed into a river at its west end.Wherever the rivers may have run in the southern North Sea, the Outer Silver Pit will not have been initiated by the rivers. One of the other theories must be looked to for that.Prehistoric Britain
Several species of humans have intermittently occupied Britain for almost a million years. The Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD is conventionally regarded as the end of Prehistoric Britain and the start of recorded history in the island, although some historical information is available from before then.
The earliest evidence of human occupation around 900,000 years ago is at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast, with stone tools and footprints probably made by Homo antecessor. The oldest human fossils, around 500,000 years old, are of Homo heidelbergensis at Boxgrove in Sussex. Until this time Britain was permanently connected to the Continent by a chalk ridge between south-east England and northern France called the Weald-Artois Anticline, but during the Anglian Glaciation around 425,000 years ago a megaflood broke through the ridge, creating the English Channel, and after that Britain became an island when sea levels rose during interglacials. Fossils of very early Neanderthals dating to around 400,000 years ago have been found at Swanscombe in Kent, and of classic Neanderthals about 225,000 years old at Pontnewydd in North Wales. Britain was unoccupied by humans between 180,000 and 60,000 years ago, when Neanderthals returned. By 40,000 years ago they had become extinct and modern humans had reached Britain. But even their occupations were brief and intermittent due to a climate which swung between low temperatures with a tundra habitat and severe ice ages which made Britain uninhabitable for long periods. The last of these, the Younger Dryas, ended around 11,700 years ago, and since then Britain has been continuously occupied.
Britain and Ireland were then joined to the Continent, but rising sea levels cut the land bridge between Britain and Ireland by around 11,000 years ago. A large plain between Britain and Continental Europe, known as Doggerland, persisted much longer, probably until around 5600 BC. By around 4000 BC, the island was populated by people with a Neolithic culture. However, no written language of the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain has survived; therefore, the history, culture and way of life of pre-Roman Britain are known mainly through archaeological finds. Although the main evidence for the period is archaeological, available genetic evidence is increasing, and views of British prehistory are evolving accordingly. Toponyms and the like constitute a small amount of linguistic evidence, from river and hill names, which is covered in the article about pre-Celtic Britain and the Celtic invasion.
The first significant written record of Britain and its inhabitants was made by the Greek navigator Pytheas, who explored the coastal region of Britain around 325 BC. However, there may be some additional information on Britain in the "Ora Maritima", a text which is now lost but which is incorporated in the writing of the later author Avienus. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that ancient Britons were involved in extensive maritime trade and cultural links with the rest of Europe from the Neolithic onwards, especially by exporting tin that was in abundant supply. Julius Caesar also wrote of Britain in about 50 BC after his two military expeditions to the island in 55 and 54 BC. The 54 invasion was probably an attempt to conquer at least the southeast of Britain but failed.Located at the fringes of Europe, Britain received European technological and cultural achievements much later than Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region did during prehistory. The story of ancient Britain is traditionally seen as one of successive waves of invasion from the continent, with each bringing different cultures and technologies. More recent archaeological theories have questioned this migrationist interpretation and argue for a more complex relationship between Britain and the Continent. Many of the changes in British society demonstrated in the archaeological record are now suggested to be the effects of the native inhabitants adopting foreign customs rather than being subsumed by an invading population.Prehistory of France
Prehistoric France is the period in the human occupation (including early hominins) of the geographical area covered by present-day France which extended through prehistory and ended in the Iron Age with the Celtic "La Tène culture".
Stone tools indicate that early humans were present in France at least 1.57 million years ago.Shippea Hill SSSI
Shippea Hill SSSI is a 27.6 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest east of Ely in Cambridgeshire. It is a Geological Conservation Review site.The succession of sedimentary layers in the Fens in the Holocene epoch, the period since the last ice age, was determined in the 1930s on the basis of Shippea Hill deposits, although this has been amended as the site has been found to be atypical. It is particularly important for dating the "Fen Clay transgression" of the sea into the Fens in the Holocene.In the early 1930s the pioneer of British Mesolithic archaeology, Grahame Clark collaborated with the botanists Harry and Margaret Godwin to gain a deeper understanding of the environment of past societies by integrating archaeological findings with new scientific techniques in geology and plant sciences. They formed the Fenland Research Committee to study the effect of post-glacial environmental changes on Fenland Mesolithic communities, and their first major collaboration was excavation of Shippea Hill.The site is on private land with no public access. It has been filled in and is now a field.Stone Spring
Stone Spring is a 2010 science fiction novel by British writer Stephen Baxter. It is set in prehistoric Doggerland (renamed "Northland" in the novel) and focuses on the attempts of Northland's inhabitants to adapt to the rising sea levels slowly eroding Northland's coastline. It is the first part of a trilogy detailing an alternate history in which human efforts were able to prevent Doggerland from being flooded.Storegga Slide
The three Storegga Slides are considered to be amongst the largest known landslides. They occurred under water, at the edge of Norway's continental shelf in the Norwegian Sea, approximately 6225–6170 BCE. The collapse involved an estimated 290 km (180 mi) length of coastal shelf, with a total volume of 3,500 km3 (840 cu mi) of debris, which caused a very large tsunami in the North Atlantic Ocean.Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (French: pas de Calais [pɑ d(ə)‿kalɛ] - Strait of Calais); Dutch: Nauw van Kales [nʌu̯ vɑn kaːˈlɛː] or Straat van Dover), is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel, marking the boundary between the Channel and North Sea, separating Great Britain from continental Europe. The shortest distance across the strait, 33.3 kilometres (20.7 miles; 18.0 nautical miles), is from the South Foreland, northeast of Dover in the English county of Kent, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French département of Pas-de-Calais. Between these points lies the most popular route for cross-channel swimmers. The entire strait is within the territorial waters of France and the United Kingdom, but a right of transit passage under the UNCLOS exists allowing unrestricted shipping.On a clear day, it is possible to see the opposite coastline of England from France and vice versa with the naked eye, with the most famous and obvious sight being the white cliffs of Dover from the French coastline and shoreline buildings on both coastlines, as well as lights on either coastline at night, as in Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach".Submerged forest
A submerged forest is the in situ remains of trees (especially tree stumps) that lie submerged beneath a bay, sea, ocean, lake, or other body of water. These remains have usually been buried in mud, peat or sand for several thousand years before being uncovered by sea level change and erosion and have been preserved in the compacted sediment by the exclusion of oxygen. A forest can become submerged as the result of a lake or sea level rise that results in a lacustrine or marine transgression and in place drowning of the forest. A submerged forest that lies beneath a lake can also be formed by the blockage of a river valley by either a landslide or manmade dam. Marine submerged forests may be regularly exposed at low tide; examples of these can be found at low tide on the fringes of the submerged landmass known as Doggerland, around the coast of England and the coasts of Wales, the Channel Islands, north-west France and Denmark. In some places, such as Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth, the remains are normally covered by sand and only rarely exposed. During the storms of 1974 (see Penparcau) and the Winter storms of 2013–14 in the United Kingdom extensive remains of submerged forests were revealed in a number places around the coast of Britain.As the North American Laurentide ice sheet began receding for the last time some 10,000 years ago, water levels in the future Great Lakes were sometimes much lower than at present. Forests once covered the southern end of what is now Lake Huron but as the glaciers melted and waters rose these forests were inundated and drowned. Today their remnants, well preserved logs and stumps, have been discovered in waters over 200 feet deep.Another submerged forest has been found in Nantucket Sound, off the coast of Massachusetts. and in 2012 a submerged bald cypress forest, which has been dated at around 50,000 years old, was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Alabama.Viking Bergen Island
Viking–Bergen is a hypothetical former island between modern Scotland and Norway, at the boundary of the North Sea, and Norwegian Sea. The area is now known as the "Viking–Bergen banks" (combining the Viking and Bergen ocean banks).
During the Bølling–Allerød Period, known in Britain as the Windermere interstadial, the northern coast of Doggerland began to recede as global sea levels rose. There may have been a Shetland island marking the northern end of a bay north of the Dogger Hills, and the Viking–Bergen island would have been between the bay and the Norwegian Trench.Vincent Gaffney
Vincent Gaffney is a British archaeologist and the Anniversary Chair in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford.
Gaffney has directed research projects around the world. Most recently, he has become known for his work on Doggerland, a submerged landmass that existed in the North Sea in the early Holocene. Other recent work includes the Anglo-Austrian “Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project", The Curious Travellers Project, the Adriatic islands Project, and the pit alignment at Warren Fields He was Co-PI on the EPSRC GG-TOP Gravity Gradient Project. Other fieldwork has included analysis of Roman villas on the Berkshire Downs (UK), survey at Roman Wroxeter, Diocletian's Palace, the Cetina Valley in Croatia, Forum Novum and Cyrene, Libya.