Prehistory: Archipelago SURVIVED the massive tsunami that cut Britain off from ...

An archipelago survived the tsunami that cut Britain off from Europe 8,200 years ago — and may have been a staging ground for early farmers migrating over from the continent and bringing agricultural practices with them.

Researchers from the UK and Estonia analysed sediment cores from the south of Doggerland, which used to link the east of England with the Netherlands, the western coast of Germany and the Jutland Peninsula.

This land mass began sinking around 6,500 BC due to rising sea levels — caused in turn by the melting at the end of the last ice age and the upward 'rebound' of the continental mass after the weight of the ice was removed.  

Doggerland's fate was thought sealed by the 'Storegga slide' — a submarine landslip in around 6,200 BC, believed to have submerged the land bridge through one or more tsunamis, likely killing thousands in the process.

However, the team's analysis suggests that the waters were likely channelled into valleys and low-lying areas — leaving some areas dry and habitable for millennia until they finally succumbed to the rising sea levels.

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This means that the archipelago may have still existed at the time agriculture was first introduced to Britain — and that these easternmost islands may have been the place where the first farmers arrived in the country.

With the ever-growing development of the North Sea, understanding the tsunami risk in the region by studying the past catastrophe of the Storegga event is of increasing importance.

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An archipelago, pictured, survived the tsunami that cut Britain off from Europe 8,200 years ago — and may have been a staging ground for early farmers from the continent, a study has suggested

An archipelago, pictured, survived the tsunami that cut Britain off from Europe 8,200 years ago — and may have been a staging ground for early farmers from the continent, a study has suggested

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DOGGERLAND

Doggerland is an area of low-lying land, flooded more than 8,000 years ago, that connected Lincolnshire to continental Europe and was home to Mesolithic people.

Gradually, the North Sea spread southwards after around 10,000 BC and it began to flood.   

The last of Doggerland was sunk following a tsunami, the Storegga Slide, about 8,200 years ago, experts think.

The present shape of the coastline of southern Britain was roughly established by about 7,500 years ago.

 

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A natural disaster on the scale of the Storegga slide has not been seen in or around England since.

In fact, evidence of the tsunami's devastation has been detected all around the shores of the North Sea — even as far as 50 miles inland in Scotland. 

Nevertheless, the new findings suggest that the episode was not as comprehensively devastating as experts had previously thought. 

'Ultimately, the Storegga tsunami was neither universally catastrophic, nor was it a final flooding event for the Dogger Bank or the Dogger Littoral,' wrote the researchers in their paper.

Dogger Bank is the name given to both was one part of the land mass, which submerged around 8,700 years ago — and also the sandbank which presently lies some 62 miles off of England's east coast.

Dogger littoral, meanwhile, refers to the now submerged lands that would once have extended from the current east England coastline.

'The impact of the tsunami was highly contingent upon landscape dynamics, and the subsequent rise in sea level would have been temporary.'

'Significant areas of the Dogger Littoral, if not also the Archipelago, may have survived well beyond the Storegga tsunami and into the Neolithic.'

This, they added, is 'a possibility that contributes to our understanding of the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in north-west Europe.' 

In their study, archaeologist Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford and colleagues compared their sediment cores from Doggerland with data on the area's topography and analyses of modern-day tsunami

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