Doggerland is a term applied to a shallow region (Fig.1) of the North Sea between Denmark and the North of England and has an area of around 10,000 sq. miles. The appellation was coined by Professor Bryony Coles in 1998. However, the name has been applied recently(f) to nearly the totality of the Celtic Shelf (Fig.2). Ulf Erlingsson who had promoted his theory(b) that Atlantis had been located in Ireland (with 98.9% confidence!)*has explained that Egyptian story of Atlantis is the result of an account of megalithic Ireland conflated with a report of the inundation of Doggerland in 6200 BC resulting from a Norwegian storegga. In turn, this flooding may*have been the inspiration behind the ‘impassable shoals’ described by Plato following the submergence of Atlantis.
However, it was Rachael Carson who was probably the first to suggest the Dogger Bank as the home of Atlantis in her 1951 book, The Sea Around Us. Later a Scandinavian writer, Nils Olof Bergquist, in his 1971 book, Ymdogat-Atlantis. who appeared next to support this idea.
Other writers such as Jean Deruelle(a), Sylvain Tristan(c) and Guy Gervis(d) have also linked the Dogger Bank with Atlantis. Gervis has written two related papers(k)(l) on the subject. The earliest suggestion of such a connection was briefly supported by Robert Graves[342.39-3]. Rob Waugh, a British journalist, has offered an illustrated article(g) with the provocative title of Britain’s Atlantis found at the Bottom of the North Sea, in which he touches on some of the discoveries made on Doggerland.
Some have combined Doggerland with exposed land further north, now known as the Viking-Bergen Banks, as constituting the territory of Atlantis(x).
In 2009 a book was published with the subtitle of The Rediscovery of Doggerland, based on the research of a team led by Professor Vincent Gaffney of the University of Birmingham. In July 2012 the UK’s Daily Mail published(h) an extensive article on Doggerland. The flooding of the Dogger Bank has been attributed to a 6200 BC event apparently caused by either an outpouring of meltwater from Lake Agassiz in North America ora huge tsunami generated by a Norwegian storegga(e). This event was covered in an extensive article in the November, 2012 edition of the BBC Focus magazine. The same article has a sidebar on Atlantis which suggests that there is “perhaps just one archaeological theory that has any serious claim on the myth.” Then, not for the first time, the BBC offered tacit support for the Minoan Hypothesis in spite of the fact that, at least ostensibly, it does not match Plato’s description of Atlantis in terms of either time, size or location and offers no rationale for its stance.
It has been estimated that over a period of a couple of hundred years the English Channel was also created in a comparable manner(n).
The December 2012 edition of National Geographic magazine has also published an informative article on Doggerland and the ongoing work by archaeologists in the region. It considers the Storegga or the Lake Agassiz meltwater to be the cause of Doggerland’s final inundation. For me it was interesting that a map in the article showed a small area around where I live as the last glaciated region of Ireland.
Alfred de Grazia’s online Q-Mag also published an overview of the Doggerland story in 2012(j) that was originally taken from the German magazine Der Spiegel. The same site has another paper(r) by Jean Deruelle in which he also argues that Doggerland was the location of the Great Plain of Atlantis that stretched from the east of the Dogger Bank and extended as far as what is now Denmark. Plato described the plain as being surrounded by a huge ditch. Then Deruelle, with a flash of ingenuity claims that it was not a ditch but instead was a dyke, designed to hold back the slowing advancing waters of the North Sea that were being fed by deglaciation. He endeavoured to reinforce this claim with the proposal that the Greek word for ditch, ‘taphros’ can also be used for dyke. This interpretation seems possible according to W.K. Pritchett, the distinguished historian [1622.52.5].
Robert John Langdon has proposed that megalith builders from Africa came to Doggerland as the Ice Age ended and when Doggerland submerged they migrated to what is now mainland Britain, eventually constructing Stonehenge(i).
A 2014 ‘Drowned Landscapes’ exhibition(m) organised byDr Richard Bates of the Department of Earth Sciences at St Andrews University, reveals in greater detail the flora and fauna, as well as the lives of its inhabitants, of this submerged world. Much of the information was gleaned from data provided by oil and gas companies, combined with artifacts recovered from the seafloor.
Comparable discoveries have been made submerged deep under the waters of Hanö Bay near the coast of Havang, Sweden and dated to about 7000 BC(v).
In 2015 it wasa announced that €2.5 million funding from the European Union has enabled a number archaeologists from Britain’s top universities to team up for what will be the most intensive study of Doggerland so far(o)(q). Joined by experts from the University of Ghent and assisted by the Belgian Navy they located the first identifiable submerged settlements on the floor of the North Sea. Until now (2019) the only evidence of human habitation in the region were occasional artefacts caught up in fishermen’s nets.
In 2016, it was announced(p) that the ancient footprints of both adults and children had been discovered off the coast of Northumberland, formerly a part of Doggerland. Their feet had apparently been shod.
On Sunday, January 13th 2019. the UK’s Sunday Express delighted its readers with two Atlantis stories(t)(u) . First, the online edition of the paper had a story by one of its reporters, with an ‘Atlantis Discovered’ headline claiming that the remains of an ancient 8,000-year-old city, home to ‘tens of thousands’ of people, had been discovered in the North Sea, in a huge region sometimes referred to as Doggerland. The reporter cites Dr.Richard Bates in support of this account. Unfortunately, the 2012 comments by Dr. Bates never mentioned ‘a city’, but a vast area occupied by ‘tens of thousands’ of people, presumably early farmers(s) . Then the same edition of the same paper by the same ‘reporter’ with another ‘Atlantis Found?’ headline, offered a video clip of the Maltese island of Filfla, while the commentator told us that Plato had said that a devastating earthquake had destroyed Atlantis it was finished off by an eruption. This is factually incorrect as Plato never mentioned an eruption. These two accounts are a sad reflection on the quality of media reporting today.
(i) http://www.the-stonehenge-enigma.info/#!/2013/06/stonehenge-atlantis-momentous-discovery.html See:http://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2071/(both links are live Jan.19)
(k) See: Archive: 2073
(l) See: Archive 2074
Storegga submarine slides are enormous underwater movements of glacial sedimentary deposits that were only recently identified. While many of these occurred following the melting of the glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age some more recent movements have also been identified. Either earthquakes or the decomposition of gas hydrates are their most likely cause. As many as three storegga have been identified that occurred off the west coast of Norway around 6000-5000 BC(a). The combined volume of material involved in the last two events has been calculated at 1700 cubic kilometres. As a consequence, gigantic tsunami were generated which flooded a number of landmasses including Scotland. Ulf Erlingsson suggests that one of these events, around 6100 BC, may have been responsible for the final submergence of the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, creating the impassable muddy shoals mentioned by Plato.
The dating of these events is discussed by Bernhard Weninger and his associates in a 2008 paper available online(b).
Knut Rydgren and Stein Bondevik of Norway’s Sogn og Fjordane University have concluded that the flooding of Doggerland as a result of the Storegga event took place at the end of autumn(g).
The evidence to-date suggests that the flooding of the Black Sea coincided with a storegga event, which would require a catastrophe on a scale not previously considered. In a 2017 paper(e), John M. Jensen offers additional evidence to support this contention.
In 2014, Dr. Jon Hill revealed(d) the results of a study of the impact of the 6,200 BC Storegga on the low-lying Doggerland stating that “We were the first ever group to model the Storegga tsunami with Doggerland in place. Previous studies have used the modern bathymetry (ocean depth).” The study was commented on further by Axel Bojanowski in Der Spiegel with an English translation on the de Grazia website(f). The scale of the landslide is graphically described there.
In 2015 the UK’s Daily Mail offered further details(c) gleaned from articles in the respected journal Geology and Science Nordic.
Floods on a catastrophic scale have been recorded in the mythologies and histories of all ancient civilisations. There are various possible causes for such devastating floods. Undoubtedly, many of these legends originated with the raising of sea levels that followed the de-glaciation at the end of the last Ice Age.
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(a) that around 6000 BC a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Flood Myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with a consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but nonetheless a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(f) in Scientific American has full details.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(e) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers. They date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated at around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods having apparently occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a land bridge cannot explain this succession of inundations, but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, that was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper[0750.183]to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that convention wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
*In an August 2017 paper, on the Migration & Diffusion website(g), Stuart L. Harris has put forward his reasons for dating the Flood of Noah to 3161 BC and the Exodus Flood to 1445 BC.*
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(b). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(c). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(d).
Dr. Ulf Erlingsson is a Swedish geographer, geomorphologist and an expert in underwater mapping. In order to explain several puzzles regarding the Ice Age he developed The Captured Ice Shelf Hypothesis. He was the chairman of the Geographic Society of Uppsala, Sweden and 1991 he received the Linnaeus Prize from the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala.
Erlingsson is currently the American representative of AB Hydro consult(a), a spin-off from Uppsala University, Department of Physical Geography.
During the 1990’s while studying the geography of the Baltic region, Erlingsson obtained a set of Soviet maps, which greatly assisted the building of the database he was engaged in. However, these maps, which had been bought openly in Riga, outlined plans for a Russian invasion of Sweden in the event of a war in Europe with NATO(b).
Since moving to Florida, Erlingsson has been very involved politically with the ‘Progressive’ wing of the Democratic Party.
Erlingsson recently identified the empire of Atlantis with the megalithic cultures of Western Europe and North Africa and suggested its capital may have been located in Ireland. His book is interesting and contains a number of original ideas. However, as an Irishman, I am not convinced that our remarkable monuments in the Boyne Valley are the remains of or related to Atlantis. I will discuss this further in my review of his book. Erlingsson sees Atlantis everywhere, for example, in a carving on a stone basin in the Knowth passage tomb close to Newgrange.
Erlingsson has also suggested that the Irish authorities have deliberately made Newgrange inaccessible. This is total nonsense. As a regular visitor to the site over the years, I have witnessed nothing but every effort being made to maximise the throughput of visitors into the very confined space within our most famous national monument. The carved basin (see image) discovered near Newgrange, is perceived by Erlingsson as a replica of Plato’s circular city of Atlantis while I can see an early version of a Babylonian winged disk. In 2005, probably as a promotional ploy, he issued a challenge for an open debate on his theory.
Frank Joseph has related speculative ideas claiming that “the early date for New Grange, its circular construction, sophisticated solar orientation and mythic tradition all point to Atlantean origins.”[0636.70]
Erlingsson has more recently suggested that the ‘sunken’ island referred to by Plato was probably located in the vicinity of the southern end of the North Sea. He proposes that around 6100 BC a tsunami generated by a massive storegga off Norway reduced the then low-lying Dogger Bank to the impassable muddy shoals recorded by Plato!*He has suggested that the original Atlantis narrative, conveyed to Solon, was a mixture of an account of megalithic Ireland and a report of the inundation of Doggerland.*
Dr. Patrick Wallace, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, declared that he was unaware of any archaeological evidence to support Erlingsson’s claims.
Nevertheless, Erlingsson has produced some interesting material on the bursting of glacial lakes or what are known in Iceland as jökulhlaups and their possible effect on the ending of the last Ice Age(c).
Atlantis from a Geographer’s Perspective  by Dr. Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer and geomorphologist, endeavours to identify Ireland as the original Atlantis described by Plato. As an Irishman, I would be delighted to support this view, if the evidence was strong enough. Unfortunately, I cannot see Erlingsson’s book advancing the case for an Irish Atlantis. I am willing to accept that the megalithic cultures of Western Europe and North Africa were probably part of a loose confederation of societies that led to a later tale of a mighty empire, as its existence was relayed through the myths of succeeding civilisations. However, to claim that Ireland was the centre of this civilisation is rather fanciful and unsubstantiated by anything other than the fertile imagination of Dr. Erlingsson.
Erlingsson refers to Henry O’Brien’s book, The Round Towers of Ireland as a sort of precursor of his own. In fact, O’Brien’s book was an attempt to link the Round Towers of Ireland with a pre-Christian period. O’Brien never referred to Plato or Atlantis at all. Now after more than a hundred and fifty years, no evidence to support O’Brien’s claim has been forthcoming. There is a consensus that the round towers date from the early part of the first millennium AD, but it must be admitted that with regard to their purpose, some mystery still exists.
The most glaring flaw in Erlingsson’s theory is his arbitrary use of the diagonal dimensions of Ireland in order to shoehorn it into Plato’s dimensions. Using the island’s latitudinal and longtitudinal dimensions, a much smaller figure would have resulted. However, his application of Plato’s 3,000 x 2,000 stadia (550 x 370 km) to the entire island, is dishonest as Plato’s figures only refer to the plain of Atlantis, whereas the Central Plain of Ireland would only occupy a fraction of that area.
Some of my other reasons for dismissing Dr. Erlingsson’s theory are:
- Ireland is too far north to have produced two crops annually and was mainly covered in ice during the last Ice Age. Furthermore;
- Ireland did not disappear beneath the sea
- Ireland has always been somewhat short of elephants
- Ireland does not have hot springs
- There is no evidence of any harbour in the immediate vicinity of Tara or Newgrange.
- Conventional archaeology indicates that Ireland did not have dressed stone structures until around 5th Century AD.
*Erlingsson, in order to explain the fact that Ireland was not submerged, has proposed that when the story of megalithic Ireland reached Egypt, it became confused with the tale of the inundation of Doggerland, which resulted from the Norwegian storegga event of around 6200 BC.*
My final gripe with the book, or should I say booklet, as it contains just a hundred pages, is that it lacks an index, an irritating omission that a number of authors reviewed here have also been guilty of.
On 19th August 2004, the respected The Irish Times newspaper, reported(c) that Erlingsson had appeared to backtrack on some of his initial claims when he said that “The existence of Atlantis has never been proven” and that “the purpose of his book was to test Plato’s claim that he based the utopia on a real, historic place.”
UPDATE – JULY 2016
It’s over ten years since I read Erlingsson’s book and have only recently re-read it because the author wrote to me complaining that I had included inaccuracies in my original comments on his book. Having perused the first chapter again, I quickly realised that any shortcomings on my part were greatly exceeded by those of Erlingsson’s.
Firstly, he claims that Atlantis was Ireland, but the island which sank, referred to by Plato, was in the North Sea, part of Doggerland. He claims that the story of a sunken island was a tale from Atlantis, not about Atlantis! He attempts to explain this away by simply claiming that Solon/Plato made a mistake! It is far more likely that Erlingsson is making a mistake.
He then uses Doggerland to explain away the elephants that Plato said inhabited Atlantis, claiming that the remains of mammoths were reclaimed from the North Sea. However, he fails to record that the mammoths in question were dated at 40,000 BC(b), tens of thousands of years before Atlantis.*Nevertheless, there is now evidence that mammoths may have existed on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean as recently as 2500-2000 BC(d)(e).*
My second complaint is that he initially matches the dimensions of the entire island of Ireland with those of the plain of Atlantis given by Plato, namely 3000 x 2000 stadia. I have already pointed out that if you remove the mountains from the Ireland, the remaining plains of our island, if combined, might amount to a third of that of the plain of Atlantis(a). In order to shoehorn Ireland into his hypothesis he abitrarily chose to use a value of 166m to the stade, instead of the more generally accepted 185m. On top of that, as already noted, he measured Ireland diagonally rather than north-south and east-west.
Furthermore, speaking of mountains, the highest Irish peak is only 1,038m high. On the other hand, Plato describes the mountains of Atlantis being renowned for their number, size and beauty, which apart from beauty cannot be applied to the modest Irish mountain ranges. I would expect better from a geographer.
The first chapter contains other errors, including the idea that the ancient Greeks knew of America. In fact they only knew of three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya (Africa). Herodotus, who flourished after Solon and before Plato, was quite clear that there were only three known to the Greeks. [Histories 4.42].
There are more speculative claims in this first chapter, but, at this point I could take no more and gave up, unwilling to waste any more time on this nonsense. Erlingsson claims that his hypothesis matches Plato’s Atlantis story with a probability of 99.98%. Hilarious.