Europe's Lost Frontiers · Research Projects

Europe’s Lost Frontiers Project


Europe’s Lost Frontiers, is a major ERC-funded research project exploring the lost landscapes that were inundated at the end of the last Ice Age. I was the Chief Scientist on board RV Celtic Voyager, directing marine geophysical surveys in the Irish Sea which were used to create new high resolution maps of the submerged landscape. Volume 1 of the research was published in August 2022 and is available via Archaeopress, including the Open Access eBook.

Europe’s Lost Frontiers was the largest, directed archaeological research project undertaken in Europe to investigate the inundated landscapes of the Early Holocene North Sea – the area frequently referred to as ‘Doggerland’. Funded through a European Research Council Advanced Grant (project number 670518), the project ran from 2015 to 2021, and straddled both Brexit and the onset of the Covid pandemic. Despite suffering the curse of interesting times, more than 30 academics collaborated within the project, representing institutions spread geographically from Ireland (that’s me) to China. A vast area of the seabed was mapped, and multiple ship expeditions were launched to retrieve sediment cores from the valleys of the lost prehistoric landscapes of the North Sea. This data has now been analysed to provide evidence of how the land was transformed in the face of climate change and rising sea levels.

My Outputs on the Project (see here for a full list of all the Project Outputs):

Harding, R., Fitch, S., Bates, R., Bates, M., Boyd, S. and Bonsall, J. 2021. ‘Exploring the Submerged Landscapes of Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea’. Lost Frontiers and Drowned Landscapes in Britain and Beyond, Society of Antiquaries, London, UK. 6-7 May 2021. Available to view:

Harding, R., Fitch, S., Bates, R., Bates, M., Bonsall, J. and Gaffney, V. 2019. ‘Revealing the lost landscapes of Cardigan Bay, Wales: mapping the Holocene transgression using parametric echosounder data’. From the North Sea Lowlands to the Celtic Edge: Reconstructing Interconnected Environments for the Past 500 KYRS, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 18-20 November 2019.

Harding, R., Fitch, S., Gaffney, V., Bates, R., Bates, M. and Bonsall, J. 2019. ‘Lost Frontiers: Mapping the archaeological potential of submerged Holocene landscapes using multi-scale geophysical and borehole data’. Session on – Integration of seismic geomorphology, stratigraphy and borehole data in palaeo-environmental reconstruction. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2019, Austria Center Vienna, Austria, 9 April 2019.

Bonsall, J., Davis, E., Gearey, B., Bates, M., Bates, R., Gaffney, V., Allaby, R., Fitch, S. and Murgatroyd, P. 2018. ‘Mapping the Palaeolandscape Beneath the Irish Sea’. Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland Annual Conference, Clayton Hotel, Sligo, 23-24 March 2018.

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