A vast plateau of land between England and the Netherlands was once full of life before it sank beneath what is now the North Sea some 8,000 years ago. Archaeologists now hope to find out what the vast landscape looked like before it slipped beneath the salty water so long ago.
To do this, they’ve hauled up cores of sediment from the bottom of the North Sea in an area called Doggerland. It’s named for the shoal called Dogger Bank in the southern part of the North Sea, which in turn is named for a type of medieval Dutch fishing boat called a dogger. The land became ice-free about 12,000 years ago, after the end of the last ice age.
More recently, about 8,000 years ago, the plateau of land between what is now the east of England and the Netherlands was flooded by the sea. This brought an end to the forests and animal life that had colonized the region from other parts of Europe, including early human communities. [See Images of a Treasure Trove Found Beneath North Sea]
The chief marine geoarchaeologist for Wessex Archaeology, Claire Mellett, said that 10 of the sediment cores taken by an offshore wind-farm developer from the North Sea contained ancient deposits of peat. This organic material can form only in marshes on land.
Those cores are now being studied for clues about the flooded region. This research includes studies of ancient pollen grains and other microscopic fossils contained in the peat samples, which would reveal details of the landscape and climate of Doggerland before it sank.