Happy New Year! It always feels odd when I sit to write my December letter, knowing that I am addressing you in a different year – and the past year has been a particularly strange one, both in our own lives and for archaeological fieldwork. I hope 2021 brings brighter times for us all – and I look forward to joining you there in a few weeks!
Around 8,150 years ago, a sudden shift in the seabed created the Storegga tsunami in the North Sea. With all known evidence pointing towards this event greatly affecting, but not completely inundating, Doggerland (the strip of land that once connected Britain to continental Europe – see CA 367), the search is now on for evidence of human occupation. While it is thought that there must have been significant Mesolithic groups living here during the period, without knowing just how populated the area was likely to be it cannot be determined how catastrophic the tsunami may have been.
The Storegga tsunami, caused by the sudden shift of a Scotland-sized section of the seabed off the coast of modern-day Norway, raged across the North Sea approximately 8,150 years ago. Archaeological evidence for this event has been found in onshore sediments across western Scandinavia, in parts of north-east Britain, and even as far away as Greenland. But, although models of the tsunami suggest that it possibly affected parts of the southern North Sea, no concrete evidence for it had been found in this region – until now.
In June, the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2018 saw Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford awarded an MBE ‘for services to archaeology’. Formal honours are a rarity in our community, and so all the more to be celebrated when they occur. In the spirit of my ongoing mini-series of ‘great excavations’ reported in the pages of Current Archaeology down the years, I give here the story behind the MBE from one perspective, that of the great ‘site’ (if it can rightly be called that) of Doggerland.