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Doggerland

You can get glimpses of a lost world that vanished under the waves more than 8,000 years ago at the Family Day.

Much of the area covered today by the North Sea was once dry land. This was when the Ice Age was at its coldest, and much water was locked up in the massive glaciers that covered much of northern Europe, including Scotland.

The eventual melting of the ice led to a huge outpouring of glacial water which flooded out to raise sea level worldwide.

A picture of the lost land under the North Sea has begun to take shape with the aid of geophysical surveys by North Sea oil companies. Information from these has helped scientists to map the sites of ancient lakes and rivers, hills and coastlines, now covered up by seabed sediment.

10,000 years ago this was a landscape where people roved – hunters, fishermen, plant-gatherers. Tens of thousands of people lived across a vast plain stretching from what is now Aberdeen to Denmark in the north, and reaching southwards to the English Channel and what would then have been hills and are now the Channel Islands of today.

The great plain has been given the name Doggerland, after the Dogger Bank of today. Fishermen from time to time dredge up artefacts from this drowned world. There are mammoth teeth and antlers, some which have been worked, and there are also tools such as harpoons, axes and pieces of flint.

At the Family Day you can see some of these artefacts from long ago, including animal teeth and bones. There will also be full-sized replicas of hunting harpoons, spears, fish prongs and fire-starting kits, which you can handle.

The Doggerland activities have been brought together by a team of experts from the universities of St Andrews, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Dundee and Wales Trinity St David.