Tue 5 May 20 in History

Atlantis of the north sea - Doggerland


Looking at a map today we can see all the landmasses, oceans, and rivers that make up the globe. But hidden beneath the surface and under our noses, a multitude of lost territories can be found.

One such land was lost to the unyielding waters of the sea. This sounds very much like Atlantis, and in a way, it may be, but it was located in the North sea. Far from any greek poet or the Meditareean, this lost land succumbed to flooding gradually, and archeological artifacts have been found on the bottom of the sea to prove its existence.

This region has come to be known as Doggerland, and it once linked Britain to mainland Europe. A shallow spot in the North sea contains a sandbank named Dogger bank. It is this bank that the entire submerged area has gotten its name from, which in turn got its name from 17th-century Dutch fishing boats called doggers.


Accidental discovery

In 1931 a fishing boat dragged a lump of peat to the surface which contained an ornate barbed antler point. Subsequent investigation revealed that the artifact was from a period between 10,000 and 4000 BC. This accidental discovery became famous, as eyes turned to this expanse of water with a newfound sense of curiosity.

It showcased a glimpse in the past and made people wonder how the landscape would have looked now if it hadn’t flooded. Entire teams of archeologists, marine experts, and scientists have taken an interest in studying and mapping out this once dry land. 


Here there be mammoths

What they found was evidence of rich wildlife spread across the landscape. The area showcased a diverse display of marshland, swamps, forested valleys, and hills. Mesolithic people roamed this lowland region hunting animals and leaving behind tools and bones.

Some of these remains, such as mammoths, have been found at the bottom of the sea by fishing trawlers, enforcing the notion that indeed there was once a landmass here.


Prehistoric underwater forest

Other findings have come up showing that settlements were constructed here, pieces of cloth, canoes, and even a Neanderthal skull have been found. The skull was dated at over 40,000 years old.

A group studying marine life, off the coast of Norfolk discovered instead pieces of compressed trees, which highlighted the remnants of a prehistoric forest.

Some researchers also suggest that rivers like the Thames and Rhine might have even been connected as they wove through the once swampy hill-laden Doggerland.  


Climate change

Around 6000 years ago, climatic changes brought about the melting of glaciers that raised the water level and submerged Doggerland. In time, Doggerland slowly flooded pushing people and animals further back towards what is today Europe and the United Kingdom, seeking higher ground.

A landslide off the coastal shelf of Norway, also known as the Storegga Slide, might also have contributed to the rising water level that ultimately engulfed Doggerland.


A needle in a haystack

Trying to piece everything together now from the surface of the sea is extremely difficult and entirely dependent on the weather conditions. The vastness of the sea combined with dangerous depth poses a difficulty in pursuit of Doggerland. Searching the sea bed is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Scientists and marine researchers are getting there though, slowly but surely, meticulously mapping out the seabed to understand just how big Doggerland used to be. 


The allure of Atlantis

Drawing comparison to Atlantis, the other submerged land that has circulated through our collective consciousness, it is easy to see the allure of such lost lands. Even though Doggerland was not subjected to the same dramatic high-intensity cataclysm as presumably, Atlantis was, it is still a captivating story of our planet.

It almost takes on mythical qualities as we imagine just how rich and lush that land was, and how it contained so much of our history that we did not even know we lost.