When Doggerland Sank Beneath the Waves: Europe’s Lost World
Directed by Pete Kelly (2020)
This documentary concerns the continental shelf that connected Ireland, the UK and Europe during the last Ice Age. The filmmakers date the start of the Paleolithic or Stone Age (ie the first human use of stone tools) to 3.3 million years ago.
In Britain the oldest human remains date from 400,000 – 500,000 years ago. For the most part, they derive the species Homo neanderthalensis. Neanderthals lived during a period when when several human species roamed planet earth. They became extinct around 35,000 BC.
The first British evidence of modern humans (homo sapiens) dates from 31,000 BC. There’s good evidence these early hunter gatherers traveled hundreds of miles, across the Doggerland* land bridge, following herds of woolly mammoth. They would be forced to retreat to more southern areas of Europe when the last ice sheet covered Britain from 31,000 – 11,000 BC.
As northern Europe began to warm in 3,000 BC, tundra throughout Europe gradually changed to savanna and forestland featuring lions, hyenas, saber tooth tigers, bears, hares, badgers and primitive horses. During the period Doggerland connected Britain to the continent, the Thames flowed into the Seine and Danube Rivers.
Between 8,000 – 6,200 BC, rising sea levels steadily shrank the size of Doggerland. By 7,500 BC, Ireland was a separate island and by 7,000 BC, most of Doggerland were so marshy people could only travel to Europe by boat. The Doggerland Hills remained until 6,200 BC, when evidence suggests they were submerged by a mega-tsunami triggered by a landslide off the Norwegian coast.
*The name Doggerland derives from the Dogger Banks, a shallow region off East Anglia, renowned for abundant fish catches. Dogger is the Dutch word for fisherman.
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