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Genealogy Places of Interest

Some Thoughts on History

Sea Levels

There are in the British Isles today a great many knowledgeable and investigative historians of our nation. Whilst learning a lot from their writings I am rather amazed that so little emphasis is put on the water levels surrounding these islands of ours. Quite a lot has been reported on the flooding of the North Sea immediately following the Great Ice Age, but little has been reported of more sea rises of much more recent times, such as the late BC and early AD years.

The formation of the North Sea, disconnecting us from mainland Europe, may in part have been by an earth shift into the Atlantic, but the melting ice and/or rising sea levels must also have had the effect of disconnecting the Isle of Wight to the mainland and of the formation of Cardigan Bay and much of the Irish Sea and of the flooding of a kingdom joining most of the North Wales coast to England close to the Lake District.

My reading gives me hints that in the pre-Roman years of this country the sea rose 44 feet and that during the Roman occupation it rose close on half as much again, so forming the Solent, carving out a lot more of Cardigan Bay and the aforementioned land along the North Wales and Lancashire coast. This is born out by maps drawn in the 2nd century by Ptolemy which, even though by today’s standards were not completely accurate, were drawn using a grid reference. These maps show a very shallow curve for Cardigan Bay, a north-west coastline for North Wales and the coasts of Devon and Cornwall running fairly parallel.

Sea Erosion

Even as late as 1532 Waddum Thorpe on the Ribble estuary disappeared and in 1555 Cleveley, south of Fleetwood, was also washed away by the sea. Today many coastal residences are threatened and being destroyed by the power of the sea lashing our coastline, which is wearing away at an alarming rate.

Nowadays we regularly hear news of cliff shorelines collapsing after being eroded by the might of the sea. This can be a fall of land of varying length and of a depth from one foot to thirty or forty, in some cases taking buildings with it.

With the sea no more or less powerful now than in history it must therefore be assumed that over hundreds of years many square miles of land has been lost to the sea.

Stonehenge

All of the above gives one a new perspective on Stonehenge. If, since the pre-Roman years the sea has risen so much, surely in the preceding 2000 years or so there would have been other rises; so much so that the bluestones from south Wales used to construct Stonehenge may have been moved overland across the Severn Estuary, which must be less than 70 feet deep. Should this thought be correct it knocks a lot of the mystery out of the construction of Stonehenge. Even in south Wales a lot of hills and rivers had to be crossed, and while the route may have been largely downhill, there were still rivers and streams to be navigated, probably by the construction of bridges. If this is the case, why not a bridge across the present Severn Estuary before the sea level reached the depth at which it is today?

Having explored a rather fanciful theory on the grounds that primitive man of about 2000 BC could manufacture bridges with wood and ivy ropes, which would be so time consuming as to take many hundreds of years to complete, we should try and find an alternative.

As recently as 1800 to 1850 this country had what was referred to as a Mini Ice Age. At this time the Thames was frozen solidly in winter and there are many paintings and drawings in existence to show tent shops, etc. set up on it as late as 1853. These Mini Ice Ages seem to happen in about seven mini cycles of 22 years, a mini cycle being a particularly hot summer, cold winter or very dry or wet weather, giving an ‘Ice Age’ cycle of about 150 years or so.

If the above is the case a) The Severn would also have been frozen solid, and b) If this occurred about 2000 BC, then the massive rocks could have been slid easily across and the journey would have been less difficult.

Conclusions.

Where Dartmoor is now one of the wettest, windiest and coldest parts of the country, in days gone by it was one of the warmest and driest. Indeed, Dartmoor may one day be a dessert. This goes to prove that the weather of this country has been in constant change throughout history and continues to be so.

I have long had the conviction that history has been overcomplicated in its interpretation and that there are many very much easier methods than historians would have us believe. This is not to say that the construction of such as Stonehenge was not an extensive man made undertaking of breath-taking proportions, but I do believe that transportation of materials was easier than stated.

That the hills and mountains of Scotland and Wales are due to the Ice Age is not questioned, the land in these locations being on the colder Atlantic side of the continental land mass, but the slow erosion ever since by the action of the sea has changed the shape tremendously.

To come to more modern times, we are now learning that with global warming the sea levels could again rise so that over the next fifty years the land mass of these islands could be reduced by as much as five percent. With the population rising at much the same rate, how long before there is virtually only standing room?