Divers discover underwater forest off Norfolk coast

  • 26 January 2015
  • From the section Norfolk
Media captionThe submerged forest was uncovered after last winter's storm surge

A submerged prehistoric forest, discovered 200 metres off the Norfolk Coast, is about 10,000 years old, according to geologists.

Discovered by divers, the forest is part of a prehistoric Doggerland which once spread all the way to Germany.

It was uncovered when last winter's storm surge shifted thousands of tonnes of sand beneath the ocean.

Geologist Martin Warren said it was part of a "country Europe forgot".

Professor Julian Andrews, from the University of East Anglia, called the discovery "very exciting".

He said studies of wood found near the forest, dated it at about 10,000 years old.

Image caption The underwater forest can be found a little more than 200 metres off the Norfolk Coast
Image caption The prehistoric forest was part of a land which once spread all the way to Germany

The forest was discovered by volunteer Sea Search diver Dawn Watson, who came across "an enormous wave of black stuff".

It was only later she realised it was the remains of a forest of "probably oak trees" that had been knocked flat.

Doggerland was home to hunter gatherers and would have consisted of a landscape of salt marshes, spits, hills and estuaries.

Image caption Studies of wood found close to the forest found it dated back 10,000 years
Image caption The prehistoric forest is part of a land that "Europe forgot"

It flooded over several thousand years forcing the people who lived there to gradually abandon their homes.

But it is also believed the remaining tribes were wiped out by a five metre-tall tsunami that came down from the North Sea, caused by a sub-sea landslide.

Mr Warren said before the water rose back to its present state after the end of the last ice age, the land would have stretched for miles.

Image caption The forest was uncovered after thousands of tonnes of sand was shifted in a storm surge
Image caption It is believed the forest was flattened by a five metre-tall tsunami

"There was another country out there that Europe forgot that it had," he said.

Mr Warren said: "The more you look, the more you find. There are bound to be things that are still to be discovered."

See more on Inside Out in the East on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on 26 January, and then on the iPlayer.

Image caption Geologists believe other hidden landscapes are present under the sea

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