Liverpool Bay during the Palaeolithic period

Liverpool Bay during the Mesolithic period




Almost the whole of the Liverpool Bay study area was above water during the Palaeolithic period. It was a landscape of open tundra and floodplains cut by numerous watercourses draining from the surrounding highlands into large shallow lakes. The post glacial environment was cold and dry, some areas of ice may still have survived, but the large floodplains would have supported grazing animals, such as the prehistoric giant elk Megaloceros, which were hunted for food. Evidence from caves in the surrounding landscape tells us that the hunters took meat from these kills to be eaten there, and other body parts, such as bone or sinews could have be used to make tools or other equipment.


The inundation of the landscape proceeded relatively rapidly throughout the Mesolithic, but an extensive intertidal zone is likely to have existed throughout the period. The effects of sea level rise on the Palaeolithic lakes remains uncertain but it is possible that they remained prominent features within the landscape. Several large river systems flowed across the area that may well relate to rivers visible nowadays, notably the Mersey and the Dee. These rivers acted as corridors of movement for Mesolithic hunter-gatherers accessing the rich coastal resources. Excellent hunting locations would have been found in the drier plains, where aurochs, red and roe deer, and wild boar would have browsed, drinking from the fresh water filled basins that would be populated with waterfowl and fish.


The dramatic effect on the prehistoric landscape by relatively rapid inundation is most effectively shown by a series of illustrations in the above slideshow. The sequences show Liverpool Bay from the end of the Palaeolithic at approximately 12,000BP until the later Mesolithic at 7,500BP. Only those areas of highland, such as the Isle of Man were left above water by the conclusion of the Mesolithic and the resulting coastlines are not dissimilar from the ones we know today.