• A great wave: the Storegga tsunami and the end of Doggerland?

      Walker, James; Gaffney, Vincent L.; Fitch, Simon; Muru, Merle; Fraser, Andy; Bates, M.; Bates, R. (Cambridge University Press, 2020-12)
      Around 8150 BP, the Storegga tsunami struck North-west Europe. The size of this wave has led many to assume that it had a devastating impact upon contemporaneous Mesolithic communities, including the final inundation of Doggerland, the now submerged Mesolithic North Sea landscape. Here, the authors present the first evidence of the tsunami from the southern North Sea, and suggest that traditional notions of a catastrophically destructive event may need rethinking. In providing a more nuanced interpretation by incorporating the role of local topographic variation within the study of the Storegga event, we are better placed to understand the impact of such dramatic occurrences and their larger significance in settlement studies.
    • Multi-Proxy Characterisation of the Storegga Tsunami and Its Impact on the Early Holocene Landscapes of the Southern North Sea

      Gaffney, Vincent L.; Fitch, Simon; Bates, M.; Ware, R.L.; Kinnaird, T.; Gearey, B.; Hill, T.; Telford, Richard; Batt, Catherine M.; Stern, Ben; et al. (2020-07-15)
      Doggerland was a landmass occupying an area currently covered by the North Sea until marine inundation took place during the mid-Holocene, ultimately separating the British landmass from the rest of Europe. The Storegga Event, which triggered a tsunami reflected in sediment deposits in the northern North Sea, northeast coastlines of the British Isles and across the North Atlantic, was a major event during this transgressive phase. The spatial extent of the Storegga tsunami however remains unconfirmed as, to date, no direct evidence for the event has been recovered from the southern North Sea. We present evidence of a tsunami deposit in the southern North Sea at the head of a palaeo-river system that has been identified using seismic survey. The evidence, based on lithostratigraphy, geochemical signatures, macro and microfossils and sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA), supported by optical stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon dating, suggests that these deposits were a result of the tsunami. Seismic identification of this stratum and analysis of adjacent cores showed diminished traces of the tsunami which was largely removed by subsequent erosional processes. Our results confirm previous modelling of the impact of the tsunami within this area of the southern North Sea, and also indicate that these effects were temporary, localized, and mitigated by the dense woodland and topography of the area. We conclude that clear physical remnants of the wave in these areas are likely to be restricted to now buried, palaeo-inland basins and incised river valley systems.
    • Targeting the mesolithic: Interdisciplinary approaches to archaeological prospection inthe Brown Bank area, southern North Sea

      Missiaen, T.; Fitch, Simon; Muru, Merle; Harding, Rachel; Fraser, Andy; De Clercq, M.; Garcia Moreno, David; Versteeg, W.; Gaffney, Vincent L. (2021-05-20)
      This paper describes some results of the research undertaken over the Brown Bank area during recent (2018/2019) geoarchaeological surveys in the North Sea which included seismic imaging, shallow (vibro)coring and dredging. It examines the benefits of simultaneous high-resolution (0.5 – 1m) and ultra-high-resolution (10 – 20cm) seismic survey techniques and a staged approach to resolving the submerged Holocene landscape in the highest possible detail for the purpose of targeted prospecting for archaeological material from the Mesolithic landscape of Doggerland. The materials recovered from such surveys offer significantly greater information due to an enhanced understanding of the context in which they were recovered. The importance of this information cannot be understated archaeologically, as few locations on land provide the opportunity to recover archaeological finds in situ within preserved landscapes. Moreover, it allows offshore areas of potential human activity to be prospected with some certainty of success.