This website is the result of a partnership between Dyfed
Archaeological Trust, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
(RCAHMW) and The University of Birmingham, whose aim was to summarise recent research into
the prehistoric landscapes beneath the Bristol Channel and Liverpool Bay. The University
of Birmingham used the data collated through seismic reflection surveys, carried out by
commercial companies searching for gas and oil reserves or planning mineral extraction,
to identify and record the submerged landscapes that survive below these areas. These seismic
surveys can detect earlier coastlines, higher ground, river valleys and flood plains, and
in so doing provide valuable information about potential locations of archaeological sites.
The information was gathered within a computer mapping system and interpreted to produce
maps showing broad landscape changes. These will be used to help with the future management
of the survey areas and protect them from the potential impact of dredging or offshore development.
After the last great Ice Age, global warming raised sea levels to such an extent that vast
areas of lower lying land between Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe became flooded
and the British Isles, as we now know them, were eventually created. For thousands of years
these now lost lands formed the living landscape of our ancestors. Indeed, these areas were
the heartland for Mesolithic communities, providing fertile land with rich, diverse resources,
until flooding forced them back onto the higher lands we live on today. This study of the
Bristol Channel and Liverpool Bay follows on from The University of Birmingham’s pioneering
work in 2007 on the submerged landscapes of the southern North Sea, now referred to as ‘Doggerland’.
This revealed a submerged Mesolithic landscape in unprecedented detail, significantly changing
the way that prehistory is perceived and understood by archaeologists. Already, in recent
work on data from the North Sea, there is an indication that some areas may have remained
habitable much longer than initially thought, perhaps even into the early Neolithic period.