Diver Dawn Watson found incredible ancient forest under the North Sea
10,000-year-old trees appear to have been hidden underwater since Ice Age
The 45-year-old discovered oak trees with eight-metre branches off Norfolk.A shocked diver has found an incredible 10,000-year-old pre-historic forest under the North Sea and experts believe it could have once stretched as far as Europe.
Diver Dawn Watson, 45, discovered the remarkable 'lost forest' when she was diving just 300 metres off the coast of Cley next the Sea, Norfolk.
Ms Watson, who runs the Marine Conservation Society's survey project, Seasearch in East Anglia with partner Rob Spray, said she was 'absolutely thrilled' with the find.
She said: 'I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first.
'The sea was quite rough by the shore so I decided to dive slightly further out and after swimming over 300 metres of sand I found a long blackened ridge.
'When I looked more closely I realised it was wood, and when I swam further along, I started finding whole tree trunks with branches on top, which looked like they had been felled.'
'It was amazing to find and to think the trees had been lying there completely undiscovered for thousands of years. You certainly don't expect to go out for a quick dive and find a forest.'
It is believed the forest was drowned when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose 120 metres.
The fallen trees are now lying on the ground where they have formed a natural reef, which is teaming with colourful fish, plants and wildlife.
'At one time it would have been a full-blown Tolkien-style forest, stretching for hundreds of miles,' added Mr Spray, who has begun surveying the forest with his partner.
'It would have grown and grown and in those days there would have been no one to fell it so the forest would have been massive.
How it could have looked
An ancient forest, which dates back more than 7,000 years and has lain buried beneath the sand for millennia, is slowly being uncovered by the ocean.
Tree stumps and felled logs, which have been preserved by peat and sand, are now clearly visible along a 650 feet (200 metres) stretch of coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland.
The forest first began to form around 5,300 BC but by 5,000 BC the encroaching ocean had covered it up and buried it under sand. Now the sea levels are rising again, the remnants of the forest are becoming visible and being studied by archaeologists.
But the relatively rapid change in the surrounding environment would have gradually confined animals and humans in the region to Europe and the UK as the bogs and marshes became flooded, making them impassable.
Doctor Clive Waddington, of Archaeology Research Services, said: 'In 5,000 BC the sea level rose quickly and it drowned the land.
'The sand dunes were blown back further into the land, burying the forest, and then the sea receded a little.
The forest existed in the late Mesolithic period, which was a time of hunting and gathering for humans.
In addition to tree stumps, archaeologists say they have uncovered animal footprints, highlighting the diverse wildlife which would have roamed the ancient Doggerland forest.
Dr Waddington, who says evidence has been discovered of humans living nearby in 5,000 BC, added: 'On the surface of the peat we have found footprints of adults and children.
'We can tell by the shapes of the footprints that they would have been wearing leather shoes.
'We have also found animal footprints of red deer, wild boar and brown bears.'
Seahenge, an early Bronze age structure on the coast of Norfolk,
overlooks the ancient world of Doggerland
Source HERE and HERE
Love and light,