Great Britain: The Intertidal and Underwater Archaeology of Britain’s Submerged Landscapes

Geoff Bailey, Garry Momber, Martin Bell, Louise Tizzard, Karen Hardy, Andrew Bicket, Lauren Tidbury, Jonathan Benjamin, Alex Hale

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


The submerged landscapes around Great Britain are extensive and would have offered productive territory for hunting, gathering, exploitation of aquatic and marine resources, and—in the final stages of postglacial sea-level rise—opportunities for agriculture. They would also have provided land connections to continental Europe and opportunities for communication by sea travel along now-submerged palaeocoastlines and river estuaries. Most of the archaeological material has been discovered in intertidal or shallow water conditions, but there are also discoveries in deeper water, with dates ranging from earliest human presence nearly one million years ago up to the establishment of modern sea level. Some later material is present where coastlines have continued to sink in more recent millennia. Intertidal sites are especially well represented because of relatively large tidal ranges and shallow offshore gradients on many coastlines. These are often associated with remains of submerged forests, which are periodically exposed at low tide and then covered up again by movements of sand. Some of the most distinctive intertidal finds are the human and animal footprints preserved in intertidal sediments in many locations, especially at Goldcliff East. The earliest, at Happisburgh, are dated between 0.78 and 1 Ma. Fully submerged sites include the Mesolithic site of Bouldnor Cliff with its worked timbers, and the Middle Stone Age artefacts from offshore aggregate Area 240 along with well-preserved ice age fauna and environmental indicators. Pioneering work using oil industry seismic records has produced detailed reconstructions of the submerged landscape, and this is being followed up by new work involving targeted acoustic survey and coring of sediments.
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 pages31
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


  • Submerged forests
  • Intertidal
  • Happisburgh
  • Bouldnor Cliff
  • Goldcliff East
  • Area A240

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