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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Native to Doggerland:

Native to Doggerland:

Doggerland is the former landmass in the southern North Sea which connected the island of Great Britain to mainland Europe during the last ice age. Geological surveys have suggested that Doggerland was a large dry land area that stretched from Britain's east coast across to the present coast of the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and Denmark. The land was likely a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period. Trawlers in the North Sea have dragged up mammoth and lion remains, among other remains of land animals.

Formation

Before the first of the Pleistocene (and current) Ice Ages the Rhine flowed northwards into the North Sea at a time when the North Sea was dry. (It is thought that a Cenozoic silt deposit in East Anglia is the bed of an old course of the Rhine.) The Weald was twice as long as it is now and stretched across what is now the Strait of Dover (and the modern Boulonnais is a remnant of its east end), until Scandinavian and Scottish ice met for the first time. In the southern North Sea a large proglacial lake then formed, which received the river drainage and ice melt from much of northern Europe and western Russia. The water then overflowed over the Weald into the English Channel and cut a deep gap which sea erosion later widened gradually into the Strait of Dover.

Before the end of the Devensian glaciation (the most recent ice age) around 10,000 years ago, the British Isles were part of continental Europe. During this period the North Sea and almost all of the British Isles were covered with ice. The sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today, and much of the North Sea and English Channel was an expanse of low-lying tundra.

It is thought that after the first main Ice Age the watershed between North Sea drainage and English Channel drainage was from East Anglia east then southeast to the Hook of Holland, not across the Strait of Dover, and that the Thames and the Rhine joined and flowed along the English Channel dry bed as a wide slow river which at times flowed far before reaching the sea.

Disappearance

After the end of the last ice age, Doggerland became submerged beneath the North Sea, cutting off what was previously the British peninsula from the European mainland. The Dogger Bank was an upland area of Doggerland. However, several reports warn that the current relief of the southern North Sea seabed is not a sound guide to the topography of Doggerland.

In popular culture

The "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 also featured in the "Britain's Drowned World" episode of the Channel 4 Time Team documentary.

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