During May 2019, an 11-day expedition by European scientists from Belgium and Britain was undertaken to explore three sites of potential geological and archaeological interest in the southern North Sea.
Although the survey was heavily impacted by poor weather, confirmation of the occurrence of a well-preserved Early Holocene land surface was made near Brown Bank where several large samples of peat and ancient wood were recovered. This evidence strongly suggests that a prehistoric woodland once stood in this area.
Survey also targeted a large river system identified through the work of the Lost Frontiers Project. Survey was focused on a zone where the river entered an ancient sea, and was suspected to be a location where evidence of human activity was more likely to be preserved. 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. These findings are supported by the results of vibrocores acquired in the area for the Europe’s Lost Frontiers project.
Further study has now revealed the first archaeological artefacts from the Southern River survey area. One was a small piece of flint that was possibly the waste product of stone tool making. The second was a larger piece, broken from the edge of a stone hammer, an artefact used to make a variety of other flint tools. As well as being evidence for flint tool production the hammer fragment derived from a large battered flint nodule would once have been part of a personal tool kit. Research is still ongoing into this artefact and its context within the landscape.
A 3D model of the hammerstone fragment may be seen at https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/north-sea-sr2-777d1c425b5d46df9721a63a915f0c02/
In the relatively short period of time available for survey and sampling around the Southern River and the Brown Bank, the project methodology has clearly demonstrated its value. Marine geophysics has been used to map the topography of these lost lands and identify areas where prehistoric sediments may exist. Where these are accessible and are within areas of the landscape that are likely to be attractive for human occupation or use, sediments can be extracted for careful examination and with a higher expectation of making finds than was previously possible.
Work will now proceed to refine our knowledge of the larger context of these finds and to plan further expeditions to explore these hidden prehistoric landscapes.
More at – https://lostfrontiers.teamapp.com/newsletters/648863