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Doggerland: The real Atlantis beneath the North Sea

PortandTerminal.com, December 10, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND – About 12,000 years ago, the sea level around the British Isles was about 400 feet lower than it is today. That exposed the bottom of a wide strip of the present-day North Sea. In the same way that lower sea levels created the Bering Strait land bridge, lower sea levels also exposed the bottom of the North Sea and gave it time to evolve into fertile, populated land.

A map of what Doggerland what was thought to look like about 10,000 years ago. Doggerland was drowned by seas some 8,000 years ago and is an area that stretches from the east of England to the Netherlands and Denmark

Clues and artefacts

Mammoth skull dredged up in the North Sea between Britain and Denmark.

In the 1800s the first clues that an inhabited land used to exist beneath the waves of the North Sea began to emerge. Fishing vessels began dredging up plant remains, animal bones, and even human artefacts from Dogger Bank.

Fast forward to 1988 and one Doggerland’s most remarkable finds was made at Bruine Bank, an area in the North Sea, by a Dutch fisherman.

A stone tranchet axe between 12,000 and 6,000 years old from Doggerland
Stone tranchet axe between 12,000 and 6,000 years old from Doggerland

Amongst fishermen like Aart Wolters, Bruine Bank is known for its good catches in cold weather and the bones, mammoth teeth, and even artefacts which get caught in the nets and sometimes cause annoying tears. This one particular find that Wolters’ fishing nets brought up was remarkable – a stone tranchet axe between 12,000 and 6,000 years old. Proof positive that intelligent, tool-producing humans once inhabited Doggerland

Archaeologists and anthropologists say the Doggerlanders were hunter-gatherers who migrated with the seasons, fishing, hunting, and gathering food such as hazelnuts and berries.

Archaeologists now believe that they have also found the first signs of two potential prehistoric settlements under the North Sea. Teams from universities in England and Belgium discovered evidence of woodland and worked flint in the seabed 25 miles off the coast of Cromer, Norfolk. The researchers used the latest sound wave technology to scan the seabed in May 2019.

They found evidence of human activity in two places, including an ancient submerged river estuary. Two pieces of stone flint were recovered in seabed sediment samples taken from a depth of 32m (104 ft).

Images of flint artefacts found on the seabed 25 miles off the Norfolk coast
Handworked flint found on the seabed 25 miles off the Norfolk coast

Researchers say that recent finds and data from commercial seafloor mapping suggest a population as large as tens of thousands lived in Doggerland before it was consumed by the sea.

“These are people who were just like us, who around that time built some of the first houses around Britain.”

Over time, the Doggerlanders were slowly flooded out of their seasonal hunting grounds. Water previously locked away in glaciers and ice sheets began to melt, drowning Doggerland. Around 6,000 years ago, the Mesolithic people were forced onto higher ground in what is today England and the Netherlands.

READ: What will happen to PortMiami as the sea levels continue to rise?

So just like the fabled Atlantis, Doggerland is now nothing but a long-sunken and forgotten Stone Age habitat, the remnants of which are the decayed bones and artefacts of its people that end up in the nets of fishing boats.

The story of it can easily be interpreted as an admonishing tale for the ultimate outcomes of rapidly rising sea levels caused by climate changes.

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