The Stone Age Atlantis

Source: NASA/Per Høj

An entire landmass once existed in the North Sea. But now, it only exists at the bottom of the ocean. What happened to this mysterious land, and why was it so important for Stone Age man?

This landmass was known as Doggerland, and in prehistoric times it was a broad expanse of plains and grasslands, verdant and teeming with life. Stone Age hunters would hunt bison, mammoths and aurochs here.

It was an idyllic place to live, and many humans settled here, choosing it in favour over the harsher, higher ground of England and Denmark.

If it had not been for Doggerland, connecting Britain to continental Europe, the legacy of the British Empire might have been quite different indeed.

Mammoth remains have been found across the sea floor, along with human remains, weapons, tools and cutlery.

Doggerland stayed a land of plenty for Stone Age man for millions of years, until the last glacial period ended. When the ice finally began to melt, global sea levels rose dramatically.

The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a massive tsunami off the coast of Norway. This tsunami, known as the Storegga Slide, wiped out Doggerland and sent it beneath the waves for good.

The name Doggerland has little to do with prehistory and everything to do with the 17th Century.

Dutch fishing vessels, known as doggers, found a spot in the North Sea where cod was particularly plentiful. This is now known as The Dogger Bank.

In the past century, thanks to sea floor surveys conducted by oil companies, and to the material dredged up from fishing trawler, people discovered that this bounty of fish was due to a shallow bank below the waves, where submerged peat reserves provided plenty of nutrients.

The archaeological importance of Doggerland is great enough to impact offshore wind farm planning. Many Stone Age beforeigners might be pleased to learn the extent to which modern man values a place that, for many of them, was their homeland.