It also serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate
change can cause, Professor Gaffney says.
Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising
water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains.
"At times this change would have been insidious and slow - but at
times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very
traumatic for these people," he says.
[Some of the advances by the sea would have been similar to the
widespread flooding of the English East Coast in 1953.
That happened overnight as a result of strong winds and a
particularly high tide, but in the case of the North Sea plains the
floodwaters would not have receded - at least not completely, and
"It would be a mistake to think that these people were
unsophisticated or without culture... they would have had names for
the rivers and hills and spiritual associations - it would have been
a catastrophic loss," says Professor Gaffney.
As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels
rose, the inhabitants would have been pushed off their hunting
grounds and forced towards higher land - including to what is now
[Such changes to their hunting areas, with separate tribal
associations being pushed together in ever smaller and more crowded
territories would have resulted in conflict between tribes or
groupings, and a period of unrest and further disturbance to the
lives of these people.]
"In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the
middle of the North Sea. By 6000 BC, Britain was an island. The
area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years,"
explains Professor Gaffney.
The rising water levels began to remake the coastline