Somerset Lost Islands, Hidden Landscapes Conference

A conference about Archaeology in the Somerset Moors and Levels at Strode Theatre, Street, January 14th 2011

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  1. The event was a public conference, which quickly sold out. It was part supported by the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society.
  2. Dr Richard Brunning of Somerset County Council's talk was an overview of coastal change through time. This is the dominant feature of lowland archaeology in Somerset, with some very significant changes throughout the period of human occupation.
  3. In the early Holocene, Somerset was actually quite far inland
  4. By about 5000 BC, sea level rises and much of the Levels and Moors are submerged. The coastline retreats again at about 3500 BC, before another sea level rise in the middle Bronze Age (c.1500 BC). The coastline retreats once more, and land is drained in the Romano-British period; however in AD 390 - during the Roman occupation of Britain - there is another phase of marine transgression. By roughly AD 1000 the coastline is back to its present position. 
  5. This work is a mixture of research funded by Somerset County Council and developer-led work funded by the Environment Agency
  6. Some of the Holocene deposits here are 25 metres deep.
  7. The river is visible on aerial photographs and by using LiDAR, especially a very large meander at Edithmead. Large meanders occur in lowland rivers close to the sea (such as the Thames at Greenwich or the Parrett at Bridgwater) because the volume of water the river has to carry is both the river flow and the tidal flow, meaning that the wavelength of the meander adjusts to to take into account the increased discharge. 

    As the Siger became increasingly tidal, it began to silt up, and is now completely infilled. 
  8. Break time gave a chance to meet former colleagues and fellow members of SSARG (South Somerset Archaeological Research Group)
  9. This project has revealed some very interesting multi-period settlement in quite a deserted area of the county.
  10. The coast is an area where the density of known archaeology is lower than inland, hence the surveys were commissioned by English Heritage. In particular, a number of relics of fishing were found dating from medieval to relatively recent times. 
  11. Walpole is a very large area, which contains a lost island with Mesolithic to Bronze Age occupation, saltmarsh with Neolithic trackways and Romano-British and Medieval field systems.