Doggerland was an area now beneath the southern
North Sea that
Great Britain to continental Europe during and after the
last glacial period. 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
The archaeological potential of the area had first been identified in
the early 20th century, but 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.
Doggerland was named after the Dogger Bank, which in turn was named
after the 17th century Dutch fishing boats called doggers.
3 Discovery and investigation by archaeologists
4 In popular culture
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Map showing hypothetical extent of
Doggerland from Weichselian
glaciation until the current situation.
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,
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
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. Subsequently, the climate became
warmer and during the
Late Glacial Maximum
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,
Rhine rivers joined and flowed west along
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
One big river system found by 3D seismic survey, undertaken by the
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.
The red line marks Dogger Bank, which is most likely a moraine formed
in the Pleistocene
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.
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,
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
make Britain an island.
Discovery and investigation by archaeologists
Woolly mammoth skull discovered by fishermen in the North Sea, at
Celtic and Prehistoric Museum, Ireland
The prehistoric existence of what is now known as
established in the late 19th century.
H. G. Wells
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.
Early Holocene landscape features mapped by the North Sea
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 artefacts
survey results, 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 project Europe's Lost
Frontiers project has continued mapping the prehistoric landscapes of
Doggerland and has used this these 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.
In popular culture
Mammoth Journey" episode of the BBC television programme Walking
with Beasts is partly set on the dry bed of the southern North Sea.
The area featured in a 2007 episode of the
Channel 4 Time Team
(specials) documentary series called "Britain's Drowned World".
The first chapter of Edward Rutherfurd's novel Sarum describes the
flooding of Doggerland.
Science fiction author Stephen Baxter's Northland trilogy is set in an
alternative timeline in which
Doggerland (Northland in the books) is
The opening song of Ian Anderson's 2014 album, Homo Erraticus, is
titled "Doggerland," and provides a first person narrative from the
point of view of the prehistoric people who might have lived there.
Viking Bergen Island
University of Exeter
University of Exeter Department of
^ a b c d Patterson, W, "Coastal Catastrophe" (paleoclimate research
document), University of Saskatchewan Archived 9 April 2008 at the
^ a b Rincon, Paul (1 May 2014). "Prehistoric
North Sea 'Atlantis' hit
by 5m tsunami". BBC News.
^ Mihai, Andrei (February 5, 2015). "
Doggerland – the land that
connected Europe and the UK 8000 years ago". ZME Science. Retrieved
February 18, 2015.
^ Pettitt, Paul; White, Mark (2012). The British Palaeolithic: Human
Societies at the Edge of the
Pleistocene World. Abingdon, UK:
Routledge. pp. 98–102, 277. ISBN 978-0-415-67455-3.
^ a b c d University of Sussex, School of Life Sciences Archived 9
June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., C1119 Modern human evolution,
Lecture 6, slide 23
^ a b c d Vincent Gaffney, "Global Warming and Lost Lands:
Understanding the Effects of Sea Level Rise"
^ Stride, A.H (January 1959). "On the origin of the Dogger Bank, in
the North Sea". Geological Magazine. 96 (1): 33–34.
doi:10.1017/S0016756800059197. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
^ a b Scarre, Chris (2005). The Human Past: World Prehistory & the
Development of Human Societies. London:
Thames & Hudson.
p. 180. ISBN 978-0-500-28531-2.
^ a b Bernhard Weninger et al., The catastrophic final flooding of
Doggerland by the
Storegga Slide tsunami, Documenta Praehistorica
^ Britain's Stone Age Tsunami, Channel 4, 8 to 9 pm, Thursday 30 May
^ Online text
^ a b Keith, Arthur (15 August 2004). "3". The Antiquity of Man. Anmol
Publications Pvt Ltd. p. 41. ISBN 81-7041-977-8. Retrieved
12 January 2010.
^ a b B.J. Coles. "Doggerland : a speculative survey
(Doggerland : une prospection spéculative)", Proceedings of the
Prehistoric Society, ISSN 0079-497X, 1998, vol. 64, pp. 45–81
North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project
^ Laura Spinney, "The lost world: Doggerland"
^ Vincent L. Gaffney; Kenneth Thomson; Simon Fitch, eds. (2007).
Mapping Doggerland: The
Mesolithic Landscapes of the Southern North
Sea. Archaeopress. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-905739-14-1.
^ Vincent Gaffney, Simon Fitch, David Smith, Europe's Lost World: The
rediscovery of Doggerland, University of Birmingham, 2009
^ Palarch: Spectacular discovery of first-ever Dutch Neanderthal
Fossil skull fragment unveiled by Minister Plasterk in National Museum
of Antiquities, 15 June 2009
^ "Stone Age could complicate N. Sea wind farm plans", Reuters, 23
^ a b BBC News, "Hidden
Doggerland underworld uncovered in North Sea",
3 July 2012. Accessed 4 July 2012
^ App, Team. "Lost Frontiers (Lost Frontiers) Home page - Lost
Frontiers An Erc Research Project team/club based in University of
Bradford, United Kingdom. Team App". Lost Frontiers. Retrieved
^ Sarah Knapton (1 September 2015). "British Atlantis: archaeologists
begin exploring lost world of Doggerland". Daily Telegraph. London.
Retrieved 2 September 2015.
^ Heritage Action
Coles, B. J. (1998). "Doggerland: a Speculative Survey". Proceedings
of the Prehistoric Society. 64: 45–81.
Gaffney, V.; Thomson, K.; Fitch, S., eds. (2007). Mapping Doggerland:
Mesolithic Landscapes of the Southern North Sea.
Gaffney, Vincent; Fitch, Simon; Smith, David (2009). Europe's Lost
World: The Rediscovery of Doggerland. Council for British Archaeology.
Moffat, Alistair (2005). Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before
Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-05133-7.
Discussed in depth in chapters 2–4.
Morelle, Rebecca (4 April 2017). "Evidence of ancient 'geological
Brexit' revealed". BBC News. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
Spinney, Laura (December 2012). Robert Clark (photog.); Alexander
Maleev (illus.). "The Lost World of Doggerland". National Geographic.
222 (6): 132–143. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Doggerland.
"Hunting for DNA in Doggerland, an Ancient Land Beneath the North
Sea", Elizabeth Preston, Wired, 27 November 2015
"The moment Britain became an island", Megan Lane, BBC News, 15
North Sea Paleolandscapes", Institute for
Archaeology and Antiquity,
University of Birmingham
Britain's 'Atlantis’ found
North Sea Prehistory Research and Management Framework (NSPRMF)
2009", English Heritage, 2009
Doggerland project", Professor Bryony Coles, University of
Exeter. Includes hypothesised map of
Doggerland in the early Holocene.
CGI images (2 stills and a movie) of a
Mesolithic camp beside the
"Das rekonstruierte Doggerland" ("
Doggerland reconstructed"), computer
generated images of a
Doggerland landscape, 19 August 2008, Der
Spiegel (in German)
Doggerland underworld uncovered in North Sea", BBC News, 3
Europe's Lost Frontiers
2013 European Heritage Prize awarded to M. Daniel Thérond and
Professor Vincent Gaffney#
Mapping Doggerland: the
Mesolithic Landscapes of the