In the Prehistoric Society’s 1998 annual journal, the archaeologist Bryony Coles contributed a survey of the land that had once existed under the southern North Sea.* She named this place “Doggerland” (after the Dogger sandbank) and pointed to evidence of a distinct landscape and a unique people who had left behind tools different from those found in the adjoining countries.
Around 5500BC this land was completely submerged and thus lost to the sea. But on the coasts around that sea, centuries of land reclamation have taken place. Swathes of Holland, East Anglia, Frisia, Flanders and Jutland have been formed by digging dykes and dredging the seabed. As is evident in Happisburgh in Norfolk or on the island of Sylt, the sea is all too willing to get these places back. Nation states have to build coastal defences to keep hold of these lands. If they didn’t, they would be subsumed back into the sea.
You could argue that these places should, by right, belong to the North Sea – and, if so, to Doggerland – and not to the Netherlands, to the United Kingdom, to Belgium, to Germany or to Denmark. Perhaps Doggerland still exists, and perhaps it has a right to its own nationhood.
This project is an attempt to remap Europe and claim back the lost territories of the North Sea.
* Coles, BJ, 1998, “Doggerland: A speculative survey”, Proceedings of Prehistoric Society vol 64.
The following images have been scanned from Coles’s paper and are copyright BJ Coles and SE Rouillard.