Denmark: Mesolithic Landscapes Submerged

Geoff Bailey, Søren Andersen, Thijs Maarleveld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Denmark has the richest concentration of underwater Stone Age finds in the world, thanks to a combination of factors that include favourable conditions of preservation and a long tradition of professional and amateur interest in underwater prehistory. The majority of finds are from the central areas of the Danish Straits and date back to about 8500 years ago, when rising sea level finally created a marine connection between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Most are in shallow water, c. 2–5 m in depth, but sites at greater depth have also been identified. Most fall within the Ertebølle period, between 7400 and 5900 years ago, and include excavations at shoreline settlements such as Tybrind Vig, Ronæs Skov and Møllegabet II. These sites have yielded large assemblages of material including wooden artefacts such as remains of fish weirs, dugout canoes, bows, spear shafts and leister prongs, as well as remains of fibres and woven fabric. These materials owe their excellent state of preservation to the deposition in fine-grained marine sediments alongside settlement areas located on the shoreline, and to subsequent sea-level rise because of marine inundation, which has maintained the material in permanently waterlogged and anaerobic conditions. This chapter examines the conditions that have given rise to this unusual concentration of underwater sites, provides an overview and illustration of some of the most distinctive finds, discusses their wider significance and addresses future challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Europe's Drowned Landscapes
EditorsGeoff Bailey, Nena Galanidou, Hans Peeters, Hauke Joens, Moritz Mennenga
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-37367-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-37366-5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameCoastal Research Library
ISSN (Print)2211-0577
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0585


  • Boats
  • Fish weirs
  • Submerged settlements
  • Shell mounds
  • Wooden artefacts
  • Mesolithic
  • Kongemose
  • Ertebølle

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