Going home to Doggerland

If you are of Western European descent, there’s a strong possibility that you once had ancestors who lived in an area of Europe called Doggerland. If you’re sitting there thinking to yourself that you’ve never heard of Doggerland and haven’t the faintest idea where it is, I can help you.

Doggerland was a stretch of land which now lies submerged beneath the North Sea between the United Kingdom and continental Europe. During the Ice Age, this area of land was exposed and was likely a fertile area for growing crops and raising livestock. As the ice began to melt, rising sea levels eventually turned Doggerland into a few scattered island before it would eventually disappear beneath the Black Sea in its entirety.  Here’s a map of what the area might have once looked like.

Doggerland map
Doggerland” by Max NaylorOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

As you can see, one of the interesting features of this map is that the Thames and the Rhine once both shared the same outlet into what is now the English Channel before Doggerland was submerged by the rising waters from the melting ice.

Over the years, trawling fishing vessels have dredged up interesting prehistoric finds from the area of Doggerland in the Black Sea such as the remains of animals, plants, and humans as well as many tools and weapons contemporary with the time period in which Doggerland would have been inhabited.

However, truly exploring Doggerland and creating accurate maps of the area has been nearly impossible because of the simple fact that it lies submerged.  However, new technology is changing this.

Just this September, the University of Bradford announced plans to take detailed readings of Doggerland and use that to construct a three dimensional map of the area. The team of archeologists, biologists, and computer scientists also plan to collect deep sea core samples from various parts of Doggerland in the hopes of being able to learn more about this area using DNA testing to learn about the plants and animals that would have once inhabited Doggerland.

As for your ancestors, when the water started creeping into Doggerland, it’s likely they left for less soggy pastures in either the modern United Kingdom or continental Europe.

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