Have you heard of Doggerland? If you think it sounds British, you’re right. If you think it’s a place where people have sex in public, get your mind out of the gutter and into the North Sea because Doggerland is actually a lost land mass sometimes called Britain’s Atlantis because it disappeared 8,000 years ago. Now a diver has discovered an underwater forest of Doggerland in 20 feet of water just 300 meters from the shore of Norfolk near Cley next the Sea.
Prior to the last Ice Age, sea levels were so low that the Doggerland land mass connected Britain to mainland Europe, allowing humans to walk from England to Germany. In Mesolithic times, the area had a large freshwater basin fed by the River Thames and the Rhine and was covered with thick forests, making it excellent for hunting and fishing. Sea levels began to rise around 20,000 years ago as the ice caps melted and by 6,000 BCE it was an island about the size of Wales. That’s when it was flooded and disappeared completely. A recent theory is that it was hit by a tsunami that wiped out the few Mesolithic peoples remaining there.
Britain’s Atlantis stayed a mystery until the early 1900s when plant remains were discovered on the edges of Dogger Bank off the east coast of England. In 1931, a fishing trawler dragged up an antler point, bringing in other vessels that found mammoth and lion fossils as well as prehistoric tools and weapons.
Recently, amateur diver Dawn Watson found huge oak tree trunks, some with branches spanning over 26 feet, on the ocean floor off the coast of Norfolk. Rob Spray, Dawn Watson’s partner in the Marine Conversation Society’s survey project Seasearch in East Anglia, plans to do more dives to estimate the size of the underwater forest and bring up more trees and possibly fossils to determine their age.
Doggerland is lost no more and now stands (or sinks) as a testament to what can happen when polar ice caps melt.