Evidence of prehistoric settlement found on sea bed

A European research team, including researchers from University College Cork (UCC), has found evidence of a lost prehistoric settlement in the North Sea.

It has long been suspected that the southern North Sea hides a vast landscape that once was home to thousands of people. Mesolithic people are thought to have lived there in about 10,000BC-5,000BC.

An 11-day expedition was undertaken by European scientists to explore three sites of potential geological and archaeological interest in the Brown Bank area of the southern North Sea.

Acoustic techniques and physical sampling of the seabed was carried out and a large river system identified in prior modelling was also targeted.

The survey recorded not only remains of peat but also nodules of flint which may originate from submarine chalk outcrops near the ancient river and coast.

Among archaeological artefacts from the survey area was a small piece of flint that was possibly the waste product of stone tool-making as well as a larger piece, broken from the edge of a stone hammer.

“These fragments of flint hold the promise of future discoveries which will shed important light on human activity in past landscapes now lost to climate change and rising sea levels,” said Dr Benjamin Gearey, archaeologist at UCC. University College Cork.

The material recovered suggests that the expedition has revealed a well-preserved, prehistoric landscape which, based on preliminary inspection of the material, must have contained a prehistoric woodland.

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