Once, the island of Britain was connected to mainland Europe. This was after the last Ice Age during the Mesolithic Period when the world's sea levels were significantly lower than they are today. Between what is now the east coast of England and The Netherlands and the North Sea coasts of Germany and Denmark there were fertile plains, forests, meandering rivers, marshes and lakes.
Birds were as plentiful as the animals that roamed there for some six thousand years, until sea levels rose and a mighty tsunami caused by a huge landslip in Norway finally saw Britain cut off from the rest of the continent.
That lost land is now known as Doggerland. It lies beneath The North Sea and part of it is called The Dogger Bank which remained as a low-lying island long after the Norwegian tsunami turned Britain into an island.
Fishing trawlers from Hull, Grimsby and other east coast ports have frequently dredged up evidence of Doggerland's existence - tree stumps, animal bones, antlers, peat, seed pods and long-buried insects though of course we must remember that fishing boats are not archaeological survey vessels and so much precious evidence of the lost land bridge was simply cast back into the water, unrecorded.
In the Mesolithic Period (10,000 to 4500BC) the world's population was tiny, growing from an estimated one million in 10,000BC to around eight million by the end of the Mesolithic age. Some of these people inhabited Doggerland. They hunted and they gathered - mostly nomadic but occasionally setting up more permanent encampments where they may have even undertaken rudimentary forms of farming. I neglected to mention that the fishing trawlers also dragged up a small number of primitive stone tools - arrowheads, axe heads and even personal adornments - proof that Doggerland was indeed inhabited.
How I would love to go back to Doggerland for just one day. To walk upon its beaches, to follow its rivers and then in the hinterland to crouch upon a hillock, hidden by greenery, looking down upon a group of our ancestors, seeing the smoke rising from their fire, watching their activities at the end of the day - hearing their laughter and their singing. I cannot believe that they were grunting neanderthals with clubs in their hands. Though they couldn't see the future they were living life just like us. Food and shelter would have been the main preocupations but there would have also been time for dreams and memories, practical jokes and tears.
When I was a child, English people spoke of "visiting the continent" and by "continent" they meant Europe as if Britain somehow did not belong to Europe. But the ghosts of Doggerland confirm our belonging. Though separate we belong.
An enjoyable history lesson thanks Yorkie.ReplyDelete
Thank you Leishy and make sure you get your homework in or there'll be trouble!Delete
This is a wonderful story but I know that the earth is only five thousand years old, the Bible says so and so do several loonies in the USA. I am not alone.ReplyDelete
I might be mistaken but I suspect that your remark was made with your tongue pushed hard against your cheek.Delete
Interesting! It must have been incredible, the world back when there were only a few million of us on the entire planet. Hard to imagine.ReplyDelete
Yes Steve hard to imagine but unless you subscribe to Adrian's view (above) it really happened. When walking in the southern Peak District I find it astonishing that what I am seeing is the remains of an ancient undersea world. And what about The White Cliffs of Dover?Delete
Not at all what I expected from the title. Very disappointing.ReplyDelete
Oh, you were expecting me to write about that car park near the old Rivelin post office! That's not Doggerland it's Doggingland!Delete
Great post. I didn't know that there had been a connection to the continent.ReplyDelete
Well as they say Red, we learn something new every day and I learnt that once much of central Canada was a vast lake which when it burst out had a big impact on world sea levels. Thanks for that!Delete
Interesting anthropology lesson, Mr. Pudding. How far under the surface have those relics been discovered, do you know?ReplyDelete
Neanderthal people were lovely and emotional and kind people. The few graves and habitat sites that have been discovered proved this to be. Which, maybe, contributed to their extinction. Who knows? Did they entwine their genes with the more dominate modern human beings? Perhaps, when their numbers were extremely low and they were already on their way to extinction.
Quite recently some divers off the east of England discovered the remains of a Mesolithic forest - less than thirty metres below the surface of the sea. And there are sandbanks and other shallow areas in The North Sea that are a challenge for larger ships. Isn't it tantalising that we will only ever know bits and pieces of the anthropological jigsaw.Delete
Doggone it! And everyone would've been on a Paleo diet and not know it!!!ReplyDelete
Yes. Paleo diet and you would have been cooking it Lee!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the lesson. I love the name of your blog.ReplyDelete
Thanks for calling by KB. In names you have good taste ma'am!Delete
I just love learning about ancient history and early humans! I had never heard of Doggerland until I read this post. Fascinating! Thanks!ReplyDelete
Thank you Jennifer. The echoes of early humans are everywhere... even under the sea!Delete
I always think of such massive changes taking place over a long period of time but, in geological terms, 18,000 years is a mere blip.ReplyDelete
Fascinating, as is all history to me - the further back in time, the better.ReplyDelete
Doesn't "Gondwana" have a ring of thrill for you? It certainly does for me, in spite (or maybe because of?) there not having been any humans about back then.
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