Wessex Archaeology was recently represented at the 7th Developing International Geoarchaeology (DIG) Conference, held this year in Newcastle from the 4−7 September. DIG brings together a wide variety of researchers, practitioners and students to discuss and stimulate research and promote international scholarship in geoarchaeology.
Alex Brown represented Wessex Archaeology and gave a talk on ‘Late-Glacial/Early Holocene palaeoenvironments and evidence for the 8.2 ka event in the Southern North Sea Basin: new Data from the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm’. The results from Dudgeon add to an increasing body of data that reveal the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on the former habitable landscapes of the North Sea.
At the end of the last ice age this landscape was characterised by open grassland with occasional dwarf birch trees. As temperatures rose the cold tundra-like landscape was transformed into a vast wooded plain. But with the warming climate came rapidly rising sea-levels, the woodland began to retreat, replaced instead by saltmarsh, tidal flats and a shallow marine environment.
The sediments also record potential links to a major geological event (called the 8.2 ka event) that occurred between 8500−8200 years ago. The collapse of the North American Laurentide ice sheet resulted in the drainage of two huge proglacial lakes (located in the area of the current Great Lakes), releasing huge volumes of fresh water into the North Atlantic, raising sea-levels by as much as an additional 2 m, and resulting in the accelerated inundation of coastal landscapes. At Dudgeon, peat deposits – representing semi-terrestrial plant communities are overlain by marine sediments, with radiocarbon dating indicating a date for inundation around 8400−8300 years ago, broadly comparable with the timing of the 8.2 ka event. Alex considered how past human communities may have perceived and reacted the rising sea-levels.
The paper was filmed along with all the other presentations and can be viewed here:
If you are unable to see the video please follow this link
Dr Alexander Brown, Senior Geoarchaeologist