It also serves as a warning for the scale of
impact that climate change can cause, according to Professor
Gaffney. Human communities would have lost their homelands as
the rising water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying
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. 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 not permanently.
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 too, gods of
streams and trees, sacred places - it would have been a catastrophic
loss. As the temperature rose, and the glaciers retreated, and the
water levels also rose, the inhabitants would have been pushed off
their hunting grounds and forced towards higher land - including to
what is now modern-day Britain.
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 mapped by the Birmingham researchers was wiped out
in the space of four thousand years.
The rising water levels began to remake the coastline, from
what's seen here around 10,500 BC to the much-reduced coastline
of today's British Isles