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26 May 2012
Ice Age Scapa Flow mapped

A team from the universities of St Andrews, Wales, Dundee, Bangor and Aberdeen (UK), led by Orkney based archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones, have just completed mapping what would have been the Orkney (Scotland) coastline from 10,000 years ago. Since that time, at the end of the last Ice Age, sea levels in the area have risen by approximately 30 metres, dramatically changing the landscape. The project is known as 'The Rising Tide Project - The Submerged Landscape of Orkney' and has taken a year to complete.
     One of the most remarkable findings shows that the entrance into Scapa Flow was severely restricted as the waters between Fara, Flotta and South walls had disappeared, just leaving a very narrow passage between Flotta and Hoxa Head. When thinking of the first settlers to arrive, 10,000 years ago, Caroline Wickham-Jones has some interesting thoughts on what they would have seen "If you consider that you'd be in a low skin boat - I think it would have been quite spectacular, with massive cliffs towering over you on either side". She goes on to say "The map does answer the question why there is so little evidence of the first people that came to Orkney, and that is because what survives is likely to be under water".
     The study and mapping involved combining the results of sedimentary samples with bathymetric data. It is thought that the same techniques could be applied to a study of 'Doggerland' - the landmass that linked eastern Great Britain to Europe at the time of the last Ice Age.

Edited from Orkneyjar (18 May 2012)

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