A sand bank in the North Sea, between Great Britain and Denmark, has long been a popular fishing ground. Dutch vessels, known as doggers, plied the shallow waters above the bank for cod as early as the 14th century. But others were gathering food there thousands of years earlier -- not by fishing, but by hunting for deer and other animals.
The bank is known today as Dogger Bank, after the Dutch boats. It was the highest region of what’s known as Doggerland -- a land bridge that connected Great Britain to the European mainland during the last ice age.
About 12,000 years ago, sea level around the British Isles was about 400 feet lower than it is today. That exposed the bottom of a wide strip of the present-day North Sea. As the ice began to thaw, that region grew warmer and wetter. It attracted a good-sized population of humans, who hunted abundant game and established small villages.
As the warming continued, though, melting glaciers caused sea level to rise, and Doggerland began disappearing. The land bridge vanished by about 8500 years ago.
Because Dogger Bank was higher than the surrounding landscape, it became an island. But by 7,000 years ago, it, too, had vanished -- swallowed up by the rising North Sea.
In the 1800s, though, fishing vessels began dredging up plant remains, animal bones, and human artifacts from Dogger Bank. And in recent decades, oil exploration has produced good charts of the sea floor, allowing scientists to map the submerged landscape of Doggerland.