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UK researchers join bid to uncover the mysteries of Doggerland

PUBLISHED: 15:09 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 10 May 2019

Scientists conducting DNA sampling as part of an expedition researching the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

Scientists conducting DNA sampling as part of an expedition researching the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

Archant

Researchers hoping to learn more about the mysterious realm which once connected Norfolk to continental Europe have set sail on a new voyage of discovery.

A map illustrating the contraction of Doggerland over the millienia. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORDA map illustrating the contraction of Doggerland over the millienia. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

An international team of scientists want to create a 3D map of part of Doggerland - a mass of mostly low-lying plains between the East of England, the Netherlands and Denmark - which was lost to rising sea levels about 7,500 years ago.

Archaeologists have long suspected that the southern North Sea plain at Doggerland's heart may have been home to thousands of people.

Now the team from the University of Bradford, Ghent University and the Flanders Marine Institute hope to use echolocation and extract shallow sediment cores to find evidence of these inhabitants and their lifestyles.

During an 11-day voyage on the Belgian research vessel RV Belgica the team are focusing on two areas - 'Southern River' off the north Norfolk coast and 'Brown Banks' due east of Great Yarmouth.

A 'grab sampler', which is being used to fetch soil samples from the North Sea bed as part of an expedition researching the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORDA 'grab sampler', which is being used to fetch soil samples from the North Sea bed as part of an expedition researching the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

MORE: Finding Doggerland: Recalling the era when Britain really was no island

Dr Tine Missiaen, the expedition's leader, said: "The combined use of different state-of-the-art acoustic sources provides a major step forward in the identification and reconstruction of prehistoric land surfaces that now lie buried below the seafloor.

"With the detailed investigations that will be carried out in May 2019 we hope to further unravel the unique history of these landscapes and their inhabitants."

Archaeological material including worked bone, stone and human remains have already been found in the Brown Banks area, suggesting prehistoric settlement, and the Southern River zone is believed to have been a prehistoric river valley, flanked by white chalk cliffs, where our distant ancestors may once have lived.

A map showing the Brown Banks and Southern River areas of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast, where researchers are hopnig to find more evidence of early human habitation. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORDA map showing the Brown Banks and Southern River areas of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast, where researchers are hopnig to find more evidence of early human habitation. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

Dr Maikel De Clercq from Ghent Universiy said: "It is both intriguing and challenging to be able to reconstruct these landscapes in unprecedented detail. Linking these landscapes to human migration patterns would be the apogee to this research project."

Another team member, Professor Vincent Gaffney from the University of Bradford, added: "In 2018 the team demonstrated that we can find prehistoric land surfaces on the Brown Banks that date from the Mesolithic period. This provides the exciting prospect to return and recover larger volumes of sediment from those land surfaces, and find out what evidence they may contain of human settlement."

The RV Belgica, which an international team of scientists is using to explore the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORDThe RV Belgica, which an international team of scientists is using to explore the prehistoric landscape of Doggerland off the Norfolk coast. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD

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