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article imageAncient Ice Age forest found underwater off Norfolk coast

By Karen Graham     Jan 26, 2015 in Science
Imagine if you will, seeing a forest of 10,000-year old Oak trees, the branches reaching out 8 meters (26 feet) from the trunks. Diver Dawn Watson, 45, saw this remarkable forest, under the sea, 300 meters off the coast of Cley next to the sea, Norfolk.
Nature experts, Dawn Watson and Rob Spray with Sea Search, were on a diving trip studying marine life when they discovered the prehistoric forest under the sea off the coast of Norfolk. The forest was part of a now-submerged landmass called Doggerland, discovered in July, 2012. The forest was exposed after extreme storms whipped the East Coast of England in 2013.
The forest was part of Doggerland, a landmass connecting Germany and Great Britain 8,000-years ago. It is believed that when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose 120 meters, the forest drowned. The trees are now lying on the ground and form a natural reef, teeming with marine life.
Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 8 000 BC)  which provided a land bridge between Gr...
Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 8,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain and continental Europe. (Norway has been excluded by the illustrator.)
Max Naylor
Watson runs the Marine Conservation Society's survey project, Sea Search in East Anglia with partner, Spray. Watson says she was "absolutely thrilled" with the discovery. The Daily Mail reports Dawn Watson said:
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first. The sea was quite rough by the shore so I decided to dive slightly further out and after swimming over 300 metres of sand I found a long blackened ridge. When I looked more closely I realised it was wood and when I swam further along I started finding whole tree trunks with branches on top, which looked like they had been felled."
The felled Oaks now serve as a reef for marine life.
The felled Oaks now serve as a reef for marine life.
Doggerland's forest was like something out of the "Hobbit"
Richard Bates, with the University of St Andrews, says the name Doggerland was coined for "Dogger Bank, but it applies to any of several periods when the North Sea was land." He goes on to explain, "Around 20,000 years ago, there was a 'maximum' - although part of this area would have been covered with ice. When the ice melted, more land was revealed - but the sea level also rose."
Rob Spray and  Dawn Watson talk about their discovery.
Rob Spray and Dawn Watson talk about their discovery.
Doggerland was a massive land mass in the southern North Sea, stretching from the east coast of Britain to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and the Danish peninsula into Denmark. During the Mesolithic period around 10,000 to 5,000 BC, this land mass teemed with life, both animals and humans, hunter-gatherers. While scientists were aware of the sunken land mass, little was done until 1931, when a fishing trawler dragged up barbed antler point from the time when the land was tundra. Since that time, mammoth, lions, and other land animal remains have been found, along with prehistoric tools and weapons.
The forest would have  looked like a scene from the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.  says Rob Spray.
The forest would have "looked like a scene from the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings." says Rob Spray.
Rob Spray, in describing what the forest might have looked like, says, “At one time it would have been a full-blown Tolkien-style forest, stretching for hundreds of miles. It would have grown and grown and in those days there would have been no one to fell it so the forest would have been massive. It would have looked like a scene from the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, which is something we don’t get in this country anymore. Geologists are very excited about it, it was a really miraculous find.”
More about ancient forest, Underwater, Norfolk Coast, Doggerland, North sea
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