The Atlantic Margin and the North Sea: Introduction

Hans Peeters, Fraser Sturt, K Westley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


The North Sea and Atlantic margins of Europe encompass a vast area of seabed and coastline, and a correspondingly large area of potential submerged landscape. This once-seamless landscape has been divided by modern political geography, leading to different research traditions, management regimes and, consequently, necessitating division into national summary chapters. This chapter presents a synthesis of the national summaries that follow by focusing on four common themes. Within each, we explore the variability and commonalities between countries. Firstly, we assess the overall archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence base. It is clear that the evidence is temporally deep, incorporates material ranging from in situ human footprints and wooden structures to derived and isolated lithic finds, contains indications of both aquatic and terrestrial activity, and can be found across the study area, albeit unevenly distributed, with a bias to the North Sea. Secondly, we examine preservation and discovery conditions. In addition to spatially variable taphonomy caused by regional geological, palaeoenvironmental (e.g. sea-level change, glaciation) and hydrodynamic conditions, there are also national differences in methods of investigation, notably the role of systematic investigation versus chance finds. Based on work done in the North Sea, thoughts are suggested as to possible methodological ways forward. Thirdly, we address the research potential of the wider region. Extant research frameworks have identified numerous common themes, but sub-regional themes also exist. In both cases, these may cross-cut existing borders and require transnational collaboration. Research potential also extends to a range of evidence types, including derived as well as in situ archaeology and palaeoenvironmental records. Finally, we look at the management context, highlighting the key role played by historic environment management and offshore industry in data collection and methodological advances. Overall, this synthesis demonstrates that much progress has been made, though concentrated in certain areas (e.g. the North Sea). Still more remains to be done, in terms of extending approaches to less-studied parts of the Atlantic margin but also in improving the quality of data collected.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes
EditorsGeoff Bailey, Nena Galanidou, Hans Peeters, Hauke Jöns, Moritz Mennenga
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-37367-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-37366-5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameCoastal Research Library
ISSN (Print)2211-0577
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0585


  • Atlantic margin
  • Intertidal
  • North Sea
  • Submerged landscapes
  • Submerged prehistory


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