Britain’s Atlantis revealed

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Deep sea oceanographers from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton have produced a detailed report on the archaeological remains of the lost medieval town of Dunwich – dubbed Britain’s ‘Atlantis’.

Dr Tim Le-Bas, a sonar acoustics expert at NOC, was behind translating the sonar readings into 3D high resolution maps - the first time that the buildings of the town have been seen in 750 years.

“Not only can we see the remains of the town we can also measure how the coastal erosion has impacted the buildings over the centuries”, he said.
Working in the shallows of the North Sea at the site has been a challenge for archaeologists, it’s impossible for divers to see the archaeological remains because of the murky waters, hence the need for high frequency sonar called DIDSON, to map the features.

The mapping project, funded by English Heritage, was led by Professor David Sear from the University of Southampton and partnered by NOC, Wessex Archaeology, and local divers from North Sea Recovery and Learn Scuba.

Dunwich was one of the most important medieval ports of the Middle Ages but was wiped out by extreme storms in the 1280s when a huge storm swept most of the port into the sea and silted up the Dunwich River. It now lies 10 metres down just off the coastline of present day Dunwich.

The project to survey the site began in 2008 and it has since developed in to the world’s largest submerged medieval town site. Archaeologists have discovered that the town was approximately 1,8 sq km - almost as large as the City of London in the 14th century.

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