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28 January 2006
Experts to study Orkney's underwater past

Archaeologists in Orkney are seeking funding for a project to study the islands' hidden treasures. Orkney-based independent archaeological consultant Caroline Wickham-Jones said they were keen to investigate the submerged prehistory around the islands.
     Orkney is renowned for its archaeology and the main Neolithic sites of the islands were given World Heritage Status in 1999. But Ms Wickham-Jones said there was a hidden side to the archaeology of Orkney that most people knew little about. "At the end of the last Ice Age, the sea level around the islands was as much as 30 metres lower than today. It was at this time, some 10,000 years ago, the first settlers came to the islands," she added.
     She said lower sea levels around Europe meant Britain was joined to the continent by a North Sea plateau, now known as Doggerland, but its treasures were now in danger of being lost forever. "Despite occasional indications of prehistoric settlement, Britain has been slow to realise the potential of this submerged landscape," she said. "The increasing value of the seabed for the extraction of aggregates and other development now poses a major threat to the area and this has alerted bodies to the need for research to understand the nature of the area before it is damaged beyond repair."

Sources: The Press and Journal, This is North Scotland (28 January 2006)

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