English Channel formed from ancient flood

 English channel carved by huge ancient flood

A cataclysmic flood cleaved Britain from France hundreds of thousand years ago, in a violent act of nature that carved out the white cliffs of Dover and set the course of history for a new island.

High-resolution sonar images of the English channel collected over more than 20 years have revealed a deep scar in the seabed that was ripped from the limestone bedrock by a torrent of water 400,000 years ago. At the time, glaciers pushed down from the north pole to the tip of north London and England’s southern coast was reachable from France by a broad land bridge. The images show a deep sub-marine channel that today reaches down to 90m, with scour marks and landforms shaped by the overwhelming rush of water.

Sanjeev Gupta and Jennny Collier at Imperial College London, who compiled and analysed the images, believe the megaflood was unleashed after a vast freshwater lake formed over thousands of years in what is now the southern north sea.

Fed by the waters of the Rhine, the Thames and other European rivers, the lake spread 650km from East Anglia across the Netherlands to Germany and 350km northwards. It was hemmed in by glaciers to the north and a large, natural chalk dam at what is now the Dover straits.

The images suggest that the chalk barrier at Dover was suddenly breached by the rising lake, releasing a devastating surge of water that pounded and gouged the land beyond, creating a giant channel between the two land masses.

Megaflood ‘made Island Britain’

Professor Chris Stringer is director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (Ahob) project, which has sought to fill out the details of the British Isles’ prehistory. “The timing and method of formation of the Channel has been a long-running argument – after all, it really makes Britain what it is today, geographically,” he commented.“The evidence presented in this paper is spectacular. It certainly explains and reinforces the picture the Ahob project has been putting together of the increasing isolation of Britain from Europe after 400,000 years ago.”

  • Research suggests there were eight major incursions
  • Early immigrations were totally dependent upon land crossings
  • All but the last incursion – about 12,000 years ago – failed
  • A number of major palaeo-sites mark the periods of influx
  • Extreme cold made Britain uninhabitable for thousands of years
  • Warm climate – high sea level; cold climate – low sea level
  • Varying depth of rivers and Channel acted as immigration filter


14 – 21 JULY

For a week from Saturday 14 July, the people of Madeley will have a chance to excavate their own history! Participating residents of the historic township will be at the forefront of a unique archaeological project being jointly run by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the Madeley Living History Project.

Working alongside professional archaeologists to excavate their own ‘back garden sites’ in the week-long project, Madeley residents could unearth a wide range of historic artefacts from pottery to glassware and hopefully provide new information about the origins of the town.

The project kicks off with an introductory session on Saturday 14 July at 10am at Jubilee House, Madeley when participants will be introduced to the history of the area and the techniques of archaeological excavation. At the end of the week, it concludes with an exhibition of finds and results at the local library on 21 July.


Edward Lhuyd’s Cornish Dictionary online

Geirlyer Kyrnẁeig (NLW MS Llanstephan 84), the Cornish dictionary by the erudite Welshman, Edward Lhuyd, is now online.

In 1702 Lhuyd spent around 4 months in Cornwall travelling from parish to parish in order to gather material for the Geirlyer Kyrnẁeig. During this time he talked to the natives of the region and recorded their vocabularies in a notebook. That, in its essence, is the content of the Geirlyer Kyrnẁeig, namely a Cornish glossary with corresponding meanings in English.

As to its size, the Geirlyer Kyrnẁeig is a small notebook of 172 pages, with the glossary filling 162 of those pages. It was written in black and red ink in Lhuyd’s own handwriting and contains a large number of corrections and several words have been crossed out.

Edward Lhuyd was born in 1660 and was educated at Oswestry Grammar School before going to study law at Jesus College, Oxford in 1682. Lhuyd had a great interest in antiquities, botany and geology. He died in 1709.

Llanstephan 84 is not the only Cornish manuscript that is contained in the National Library’s collections. There are also 2 of the language’s most important manuscripts, namely Beunans Meriasek, a drama in Middle Cornish that was written in 1504 (NLW MS Peniarth 105) and Beunans Ke, a copy from the second half of the 16th century of a drama based on the life of Saint Ke (NLW MS 23849D).

Rotherwas Ribbon/Dinedor Serpent update

Leader of Hereford City Council, Cllr. Anna Toon, has called for the suspension on work on the Rotherwas Access Road.

Cllr. Toon said: “I… call for a suspension of the works on the Rotherwas access road [to] allow English Heritage and archaeologists to conclude their findings. There is no doubt that this is an incredible find and rushing to encase it without due process would be irresponsible. The public and all elected councillors should be kept informed of the impact of this find. There will, no doubt, be financial ramifications to the County Council and the local people in this commercial vs. historical dilemma but options should be explored and we should be open-minded to offers of expert assistance and advice from within the Council, English Heritage and beyond.)
This is a great opportunity for Herefordshire to clearly demonstrate that it can find workable solutions for history, industry, agriculture and tourism to co-exist in a financially viable way as it has done so since Domesday.”

Save the Dinedor Serpent (or Rotherwas Ribbon) Campaign


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