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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

West Coast Palaeolandscapes

 Moving on from all that work in the North Sea (relating to Doggerland etc) Simon Fitch and Vince gaffney have now reported on a very big project looking at the west coast of Great Britain -- concentrating on Liverpool Bay and the Bristol Channel.  Many organizations have been involved, including Dyfed Archaeological trust -- and funding has come from the Aggregates Levy.

This is the blurb:
Nowadays climate change and global warming are hot topics for debate, but other humans, our ancient ancestors, have themselves had to witness the dramatic consequences of such changes in their environment. Four Ice Ages are known to have occurred during the Palaeolithic period, approximately 800,000 – 12,000 years ago, interspersed with warmer conditions. During the last Ice Age, the cold temperatures and extensive ice sheets made much of northern Europe uninhabitable. As temperatures rose and glaciers melted, at the start of what is known as the Holocene period 12,000 years ago, Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were able to start spreading north and west. However, a consequence of this release of glacial water was a rise in sea levels and over time the rich lowlands favoured by the hunter-gatherers became inundated, turning woodland to salt marsh and pushing coastlines back towards higher ground. At times a slow and insidious process, at times dramatically fast, the loss of familiar landscapes occurred within the memory of living generations.
These lost lands off the coast of modern Britain can now be revisited due to innovative work by The University of Birmingham. They have used the seismic reflection surveys developed by commercial companies to map the landscape of the seabed. Following the rediscovery of Doggerland, below the waves of the North Sea, landscapes now beneath the Bristol Channel and Liverpool Bay have been studied, expanding our knowledge of Wales in prehistoric times.


The big report now published by Birmingham University is full of fascinating detail, and can be downloaded as a PDF.  Full reference below.  These are the most interesting maps:

Late Palaeolithic landscape features

Mesolithic landscape features

There are obvious implications here for our interpretations of Neolithic landscapes as well -- and for the legacy of the glacial episodes to have affected western Britain.  More to follow....

By Simon Fitch and Vince Gaffney With Contributions from Eleanor Ramsey and Emma Kitchen
(Visual and Spatial Technology Centre Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT)

The West Coast Palaeolandscapes Project partner’s WWW pages can be accessed at:
Dyfed Archaeological Trust:
University of Birmingham:
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales:


BRIAN JOHN said...

If anybody has a problem with the pics on this post, please let me know...

Anonymous said...


I've been having problems with your pictures in a number of your recent posts! Maybe that's good. Fewer comments coming from me!


Tony H said...

Only the top 25% of the pics are showing, Brian, which is a shame as I'm more interested in the Bristol Channel areas.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Have re-inserted the pics. OK now?

Tony said...

Thanks, Brian.