Sunday, 28 July 2013

To the Bronze Age in search of a Tsunami

In 2012 Druridge Bay’s ponds and wetlands teemed with invertebrates flourishing in the summer-long floods and were waist deep in rushes, grasses and herbs. This summer the ponds dry and crack in the July heat-wave, their wildlife hunkered down, plants desiccated or grazed as livestock can now reach the swards that were behind deep moats of unseasonal flooding last July. These two years capturing a powerful example of how the ecology changes, but the Bay currently offers a more striking example of changes through time and landscapes, but also of human continuity. Along the dune front at Low Hauxley Archaeological Research Services are leading a dig to record the Bronze Age burial sites that had been revealed as dune erosion cut into a burial cist. The dig, "Rescured from the Sea" has been a revelation. The occasional burial remains had been known for many years but the dig has unearthed two arcs of large stones, the half circle outline of a Bronze Age cairn (far edge of site in photo), the outer half having already been washed away by the tides gnawing at the dunes. A few metres inland, and unexpectedly, an Iron Age round house is traced in the sand (right, foreground), with at least two hearths and what one digger described as a crazy paving patio out the front. Stone Age finds have also appeared in the concreted sand base of the site, perhaps from the same people who left their foot prints in the peat beds which are occasionally unveiled when winter tides rip back the sand from the adjacent beach. The Bronze Age site looked across a kilometre of land to a distant shore line, a world of wet woodland populated by red deer, wild boar and huge wild cattle known as Aurochs, a world which has been preserved in the peat beds along the dune face (Blog, 5/12/2012 and 10/12/2012 ). The continued use (or perhaps revisiting) of the Hauxley site from Stone Age, Bronze age through to Iron Age is a compelling tale and perhaps one laced with startlingly sudden change. The archaeologists are now digging down at Hauxley to search for evidence of the North Sea Tsunami, which occurred ~8000 years ago, a tidal drive driven by colossal undersea sediment slides, the Storegga slides, off the east coast of Norway. The floods of 2012 and heat wave of 2013 are much smaller events, but work with the archaeology to show just how dynamic this landscape can be. The diggers happily show you around at 11am or 1pm everyday, so get along and take a trip through time

No comments:

Post a Comment