Doggerland is a term applied to a shallow region (Fig.1) of the North Sea between Denmark and the North of England that covers 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 or a 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.
In December 2020, a degree of revisionism was offered in a New Scientist article, which suggested that storegga tsunami may have been less than previously thought. Furthermore, it proposes that parts of what is now the submerged Dogger Bank was not completely flooded by the tsunami, but that parts continued as dry land, perhaps for centuries!(y)
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 by Dr 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 was 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 revealed(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.
(k) See: Archive: 2073
(l) See: Archive 2074
Jean Deruelle (1915-2001) was a French mining engineer, who identified Northern Europe as the cradle of technological development, preceding the great civilisations of the Middle East. He contends that the advances of Northern Europe diffused to the southern nations of the Mediterranean. Deruelle identified Imhotep as an Atlantean immigrant to Egypt, where he contributed to the advances of its civilisation during the 3rd millennium BC and became its chief architect.
More specifically, he places Atlantis in the North Sea, on the Dogger Bank, which is a shoal around 100 km off the northeast coast of England. He has written at least two books on the subject of Atlantis.
A number of maps illustrating his theory are available on a French forum(a).
Fortunately, an English translation of his theory is available on the de Grazia website(b).
*Deruelle imaginatively proposed that great plain of Atlantis lay to the east of the Dogger Bank, stretching as far as what is now Denmark. Plato described the plain being surrounded by a huge ditch. Then Deruelle, with a flash of ingenuity claimed 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].*
A Shoal of mud is stated by Plato (Tim.25d) to mark the location of where Atlantis ‘settled’. Plato describes these shallows in the present tense, clearly implying that they were still a maritime hindrance in Plato’s day.
Three of the most popular translations clearly indicate this:
….the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.
…..the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.”
…..the sea in that area is to this day impassible to navigation, which is hindered by mud just below the surface, the remains of the sunken island.
Since it is probable that Atlantis was destroyed around a thousand years or more before Solon’s Egyptian sojourn, to have continued as a hazard for such a period suggests a location that was little affected by currents or tides. The latter would seem to offer support for a Mediterranean Atlantis as that sea enjoys negligible tidal changes, as can be seen from the chart below. The darkest shade of blue indicates the areas of minimal tidal effect.
If Plato was correct in stating that Atlantis was submerged in a single day and that it was still close to the water’s surface in his own day, its destruction must have taken place a relatively short time before since the slowly rising sea levels would eventually have deepened the waters covering the remains of Atlantis to the point where they would not pose any danger to shipping. The triremes of Plato’s time had an estimated draught of about a metre so that the shallows must have had a depth that was less than that.
The reference to mud shoal resulting from an earthquake brings to mind the possibility of liquefaction. This perhaps what happened to the two submerged ancient cities close to modern Alexandria. Their remains lie nine metres under the surface of the Mediterranean.
Our knowledge of sea level changes over the past two and a half millennia should enable us to roughly estimate all possible locations in the Mediterranean where the depth of water of any submerged remains would have been a metre or less in the time of Plato.
The tidal map above offers two areas west of Athens and Egypt that do appear to be credible location regions, namely, (1) from the Balearic Islands, south to North Africa and (2) , a more credible straddling the Strait of Sicily. This region offers additional features, making it much more compatible with Plato’s account.
By contrast, just over a hundred miles south from that Strait, lies the Gulf of Gabés, which boasts the greatest tidal range (max 8 ft) within the Mediterranean.
The Gulf of Gabes formerly known as Syrtis Minor and the larger Gulf of Sidra to the east previously known as Syrtis Major, were greatly feared by ancient mariners and continue to be very dangerous today because of the shifting sandbanks created by tides in the area.
There are two principal ancient texts that possibly support the gulfs of Syrtis as the location of Plato’s ‘shoal’. The first is from Apollonius of Rhodes who was a 3rd century BC librarian at Alexandria. In his Argonautica (Bk IV ii 1228-1250)(a) he unequivocally speaks of the dangerous shoals in the Gulf of Syrtis. The second source is the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27 13-18) written three centuries later, which describes how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on “Syrtis sands.” However, good fortune was with them and after fourteen days they landed on Malta. The Maltese claim regarding St. Paul is rivalled by that of the Croatian island of Mljet as well Argostoli on the Greek island of Cephalonia. Even more radical is the convincing evidence offered by Kenneth Humphreys to demonstrate that the Pauline story is an invention(b).
Both the Strait of Sicily and the Gulf of Gabes have been included in a number of Atlantis theories. The Strait and the Gulf were seen as part of a larger landmass that included Sicily according to Butavand, Arecchi and Sarantitis who named the Gulf of Gabes as the location of the Pillars of Heracles. Many commentators such as Frau, Rapisarda and Lilliu have designated the Strait of Sicily as the ‘Pillars’, while in the centre of the Strait we have Malta with its own Atlantis claims.
Zhirov[458.25] tried to explain away the ‘shoals’ as just pumice-stone, frequently found in large quantities after volcanic eruptions. However, Plato records an earthquake not an eruption and Zhirov did not explain how the pumice-stone was still a hazard many hundreds of years after the event. Although pumice can float for years, it will eventually sink(c). It was reported that pumice rafts associated with the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa were found floating up to 20 years after that event. Zhirov’s theory does not hold water (no pun intended) apart from which, Atlantis was destroyed as a result of an earthquake. not a volcanic eruption and I think that the shoals described by Plato were more likely to have been created by liquefaction and could have endured for centuries.