Scientists with the University of St Andrews in Scotland are preparing a weeklong presentation on the submerged surroundings of the British Isles, according to a report from the university. The submerged region, named Doggerland, was once a broad, populated area of northern Europe, but it lies today underneath the ocean.
Geophysicist Richard Bates, of the Department of Earth Sciences at St Andrews, explains, “Doggerland was the real heartland of Europe until sea levels rose to give us the UK coastline of today. 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.”
Doggerland was submerged as sea levels rose between 18,000 and 5000 B.C.
The researchers have recreated a picture of the ancient region, making use of geophysical data obtained by surveys done primarily by oil and gas companies searching for resources under the seafloor, and also of samples brought up directly from the seafloor. Vegetation and animal life has been extrapolated from fossils, and land features such as hills, valleys, and rivers have been recovered from data.
Dr. Bates notes that the team has not found direct evidence of human habitation yet, but have found promising clues of what may be burial sites, stone monuments, and even mass mammoth graves, which would be evidence of ice age hunting.
He says, “There is actually very little evidence left because much of it has eroded underwater; it’s like trying to find just part of a needle within a haystack. What we have found though is a remarkable amount of evidence and we are now able to pinpoint the best places to find preserved signs of life.” Of the challenge presented by the research, Dr. Bates notes, “There is actually very little evidence left because much of it has eroded underwater; it’s like trying to find just part of a needle within a haystack. What we have found though is a remarkable amount of evidence and we are now able to pinpoint the best places to find preserved signs of life.”
Dr. Bates’ group is presenting their findings to the public with interactive displays featuring artifacts from the time periods the exhibit covers. The exhibit will be presented at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, held in London from July 3 to July 8. Along with St Andrews, other contributors to the project include the Universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Dundee and Wales Trinity St David.