Thursday, 10 January 2013

Chapter & Section One - TSE

By Robert John Langdon

FULL Documentary that accompanies this Section Introduction and Chapter One

Narrated by Robert John Langdon and Annette Jones - 30 minutes.

EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK - The Stonehenge Enigma - Second Edition © 2013


In this section, we will look at the sequence of events that occurred directly after the last Ice Age and the consequences it had on the environment and landscape of Britain.   If my hypothesis is correct, it will prove that these events increased the groundwater tables, not only in the South of Britain, but more importantly, at the case study site, Stonehenge.

BGS Map showing ancient Waterways
BGS Map showing ancient waterways

If you study any British Geological Society (BGS) map of Britain you will notice it shows a series of bedrock, sedimentary and superficial deposits.  At a scale of 1:50,000 km and below these deposits start to form a labyrinth of material that look like canals and gigantic waterways which lay under the surface on top of the bed rock. This lays testament to how the landscape must have looked at some stage in of our natural history and this is particularly prevalent in the Stonehenge area as well as other chalk bedrock outcrops.

These superficial deposits that resemble ancient rivers can clearly be seen on the surface and are known to the archaeologists, geologists and the general public as ‘Dry River Valleys’ -  because the river valleys are currently dry.

But this was not always the case!

Until recently geologists believed that the contours of these chalk hills and valleys were cut during a ‘Periglacial Phase’ of the ‘Quaternary Period’, which is the current geological period that started about 2.6 million years ago - although there is no real evidence of the exact date of their formation.  Recent theories (and in Geology these new ideas are occurring on a regular basis) suggest that these dry river valleys are the result of water flooding, washing away the top soils and rounding the chalk sub-soil, during the melting period after an Ice Age.

Dry River Valley of the South Downs
Dry River Valley on the South Coast

The problem for archaeologists and geologists is - which one?  - For there has been several during the quaternary period.

Geologists seem content to give rough estimations on the construction date of geological objects such as dry river valleys, which for the archaeologist can become misleading.  For the origin of these objects is of some interest, the actual dates when they could have been used by man is even more important, if we are to understand the anthropological implications and through this process, any archaeological findings in relation to their locations.

So we must best try to understand not WHEN the dry river valleys were formed, but when LAST did they have water running within them?

Geological maps clearly indicate that great rivers once flowed through Britain and we know that the greatest deluge of water that has ever affected the landscape is at the end of an ice age, when the gigantic ice caps finally melt, at the end of the last ice age some 17,000 years ago, geologists have estimated that the ice was over two miles thick in some places. This substantial level of ice MUST have created huge flooding all over the Mesolithic landscape including the Valleys of the South Downs, even thought they were over 100 miles away from the main ice sheet.

South Downs showing water cut valleys
South Downs showing water cut valleys

Modern geologists now accept that the dry river valleys are the product of water (not ice as previously believed) and looking at some extreme examples of the soil erosion and valleys cut, we are not talking about just frozen tundra slowly melting in the summer seasons - but millions of gallons of fast flowing water cutting away at the top-soil and sedimentary deposits, all the way down to the bedrock in some instances.

This geological evidence can clearly be seen in the cliffs and valleys of the South Downs.  Just like the Stonehenge region, this area has the same chalk sedimentary bedrock and ancient post-glacial rivers.  Evidence for these rivers are found by the subsoil consisting of sand, silt and clay.

This subsoil can be seen in the valleys (known as deans) of the South Downs and most graphically in the exposed face of the white chalky cliffs that have been eroded  by the sea giving us a perfect ‘dissection’ of a typical prehistoric waterway.  Modern geologists have yet to identify these huge concave sections of the cliffs, as being the remains of the ice melt from the last glaciation which had filled with water leaving the sandy sediments embedded in the chalky sedimentary rock face, just after the great melt, some 15,000 years ago, instead they claim they are 'wind blown' loess or wash from the valley walls.

What they can't explain is the relatively short distance from the sandy soil to today's top soil and the exact date of this sandy sediment.  If you look closely at the cliffs, you will see the sandy remains of the river is touching the top soil.  If this dry river valley was as old as some archaeologists and geologists suggest - where is the rest of the top soil?

Sandy river deposits JUST under the top soil
Sandy river deposits JUST under the top soil

If the top soil erodes as quickly as some 'experts' also suggest - why is there 18 inches of top soil on top of the chalk today, there should be none or are we expecting some massive climatic event to wipe away the top soil in the near future or is the dating of the prehistoric river beds and consequently dry river valleys totally incorrect?

As a matter of practice, archaeologist investigating Stonehenge have always ignored  the obvious dry river valleys that surround the site.  For they have incorrectly perceived that this area looked similar as today in the time of Stonehenge's construction and therefore, they falsely believe that these river valleys were dry not wet in the Mesolithic and Neolithic Periods.

Chapter 1 – The Land called DOGGER

One of the strangest mysteries in archaeology is the disappearance of Doggerland. This was a land mass the size of Wales, which lay approximately 50 miles East of Norwich, between Britain and Denmark - within what is now known today as the North Sea.

Doggerland in the Mesolithic Period (10,000 BCE to 6,000 BCE)
Doggerland in the Mesolithic Period (10,000 BCE to 6,000 BCE)

Until very recently, we were unaware of Doggerland’s existence. Past geological theories proposed that the North Sea and the English Channel were formed by the rising water at the end of the last Ice Age 15,000 years ago.  This theory was accepted for a long period of time as it fitted with the traditional view of our prehistory.  However, over the past 100 years fishing boats and in recent times Dutch trawler men, while fishing at the bottom of the North Sea, repeatedly found evidence of tools from post-Ice Age occupation.
Initially, because of existing archaeological theories, it was suggested that these finds were from a pre-Ice Age Europe, when Britain was still connected to the continent. Subsequent evaluation, however, showed that the level of sophistication in the construction of these tools, that showed to be the work of skilled Mesolithic or Neolithic people,  i.e. after the Ice Age.

Sonar images obtained by the wealthy companies prospecting for oil and gas provided the answer to this mystery by discovering a land mass we now call ‘Doggerland’ which lays 15 to 60 metres under the North Sea. The current view held by both geologists and archaeologists is that this land did in fact existed in Mesolithic period (10,000 BCE to 4500 BCE) but disappeared with the rising sea levels, caused by the melting ice caps.

However, this theory is fundamentally flawed.

The problem is the Ice Age ended at least 5,000 years BEFORE the Doggerland was swamped - geologists will tell you that the water came from ice cap of the last ice age.  But it does not take 5,000 to 10,000 years for an ice cap to melt in the Northern Hemisphere. If it did, why is there so much fuss about Global Warming today – if the risk of flooding was 5,000 years down the line?  The truth is that there is a large hole in the current post Ice Age theory.

Sea levels over the last 20,000 years
Sea levels over the last 20,000 years

Where was the water for those thousands of years before it engulfed Doggerland?

In an attempt to validate this unfounded, almost ludicrous sea level theory, they have even suggested that a tsunamis played a part in the submergence of Doggerland. Now, it is quite possible that Doggerland was hit by a massive wave resulting from the collapse of a continental shelf, but as we have seen recently with the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster in Sumatra and more recently 2011 in Japan, the wave only temporarily covers the land, it does not sink the landmass completely.

After the initial destruction, the water would then recede. At the time geologists estimate this tsunami, 7,000 years ago, it would not have covered Doggerland permanently unless the sea level had risen at the same time and obviously, vast quantities of NEW water would be needed for that event.  The second problem with the ice cap melting theory is one of displacement.  When ice melts in the sea, it does NOT raise the sea level as reported in our media.  This simple process can easily be seen with ice cubes in a glass of water.  When the ice cubes melt the water in the glass does not overflow, in fact the water level decreases, because (as any housewife knows) when you freeze water in your fridge the volume increases.  Consequently, frozen ice displaces more water not less!

So why did the sea level rise and cover Doggerland?

The simple answer is that the water that makes up the North Sea and English Channel was “sitting on” the land and was released into the sea very slowly, over a period of time.  My hypothesis being proposed here is that when the ice melted on the land, the environment was swamped by immense floods, as we have now shown, these floods can be seen in the geological post-glacial river bed as superficial deposits of sand and gravel.  All of the melting ice water did not run into the sea because of two main reasons; the land mass had been compressed (known to geologists as an ‘isostatic transformation’) and therefore sunk into the earth’s surface due to the colossal weight of the ice cap (‘glacial loading’) and secondly, the nature of the soil below us, allows water to seep into the bedrock which is stored in vast groundwater reservoirs known as ‘aquifers’.

Isostatic Transformation - sinking the landmass
Isostatic Transformation - sinking the landmass

Over the course of the next 10,000 years the groundwater slowly seeped from the aquifers through the rock bed into the sea. This was because the land mass started to recovered from the ice age squashing and started to rise up to its normal height  “Isostatic Rebound”.  This released greater amounts of groundwater into the sea,  to eventually cover the low lying lands including Doggerland.

This recovery from the ‘isostatic transformation’ is still seen in parts of Scotland as the landmass around the Forth, Tay and Clyde Valleys rises about 2mm every year.  All this evidence suggests that at the end of the ice age the British landmass flooded with so much groundwater that it took up to 10,000 years for all this flood water to move from the soil and bedrock to the seas - raising sea levels.

But what is Groundwater and where does it come from?

Hydrology and Groundwater (from the UK Groundwater Forum)

The presence and flow of groundwater is the key element to my hypothesis, so it is worth spending bit of time in understanding what this substance is and how it flows invisibly under our environment.

When a hole is dug in permeable rocks, at a particular depth water begins to flow in. The surface of the water that accumulates in the hole is the water table and the water in the ground below the water table is groundwater.  The variations in the shape of the water table reflect the topography in a subdued form. The water table is near the ground in valleys, actually intersecting the ground surface where rivers, lakes and marshes occur, but it is at much greater depths below hills.

Groundwater Table
Groundwater Table

The pore spaces of rocks are saturated with water below the water table and groundwater is said to occur in the saturated zone. Immediately above the water table, water is drawn up into pore spaces by capillary forces into a thin zone called the capillary fringe. Rocks above the water table, including the capillary fringe, form the unsaturated zone; although they do contain water they are generally not completely saturated, and the water cannot be abstracted.

Water is continually moving through the environment – we call this the water cycle. Water evaporates from the oceans, condenses into clouds and then falls on the land surface as rain, only to flow into rivers and back into the sea. However, there is one aspect of the water cycle that is often forgotten – groundwater. Rainfall doesn’t only reach rivers by running off over the land surface.

Most of the rainfall will soak into the soil, which acts like a giant sponge. In the soil some of the water will be taken up by plants and, through a process called transpiration, will return to the atmosphere, but some will soak further into the ground – a process called infiltration - and trickle downwards into the rocks, becoming groundwater. The level at which the rock becomes saturated is called the groundwater table. Water in this saturated zone will flow from where it has infiltrated to a point of discharge. This might be a spring, a river or the sea. Much of the flow of a river will be made up of discharging groundwater, and groundwater provides a vital role supporting wetlands and stream flows.

Water is present almost everywhere underground, but some geological formations are impermeable – meaning that water can hardly flow through them – and some are permeable – they contain fine holes that allow water to flow. Permeable formations that contain groundwater are known as aquifers. The holes that water flows through can be spaces between individual grains in a rock like sandstone, or they can be networks of fine cracks. Very occasionally groundwater will flow in underground rivers, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Water Cycle
Water Cycle

Groundwater comes from rain. The average annual rainfall over the UK is about 1100 millimetres, ranging from more than 2500 millimetres over highland Britain to less than 600 millimetres on the lowlands of eastern England. A significant part, almost 500 millimetres in lowland areas, evaporates, mainly in the summer. The remainder is available to infiltrate permeable rocks although where the rocks have low permeability or where they are overlain by layers of relatively impermeable clay, part will flow over the ground as surface run-off  Water infiltrates the ground mainly in the winter and slowly moves down through the unsaturated zone, eventually reaching the water table and becoming groundwater.

After temporary storage in the ground, groundwater drains from springs and seepages into streams and rivers. Maximum discharges occur at the end of the winter when groundwater levels are high following the seasonal infiltration. They steadily decline throughout the summer into the autumn.  The contribution that groundwater makes to the flow of rivers is called base flow and it is responsible for maintaining the flow of rivers during extended periods of dry weather, when surface run-off virtually ceases.

Time water takes to move from the soil to rivers and eventually the sea
Time water takes to move from the soil to rivers and eventually the sea

Groundwater provides about one-third of public water supplies in England and Wales, 7% in Northern Ireland and 3% in Scotland. The regional differences reflect the distribution of aquifers and the more favourable conditions for the development of surface water resources in both Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Groundwater makes up nearly 70% of all the world’s freshwater; only 0.2% is found in lakes, streams or rivers and 30% is bound up in snow and ice on mountains and in the polar regions. As rivers and lakes tend to be supported by groundwater, it is not exaggerating to say that almost all the water we use for agriculture, industry and drinking water is either groundwater or has been groundwater at some point in the water cycle.

Our major aquifers are the Chalk, Jurassic Limestones and Permo-Triassic sandstones, with substantial supplies available from other formations, such as river gravels and Carboniferous Limestone. Over recent years groundwater have been bottled for sale as mineral waters. Often these waters come from minor aquifers in upland areas where distinctive geology imparts interesting flavours.
UK Aquifers
UK Aquifers

It should be remembered that not all groundwater resides at sea level. The natural motion of water means that it moves from rainfall and springs down to rivers and eventually to the sea. However, the pace of this flow back to the sea is dependent on soil types and conditions. This is why we have lakes and reservoirs at high altitudes as they are situated on a form of impervious soil that does not readily leak water and they are constantly fed by small streams and constant rainfall - this variation is known as THE GROUNDWATER TABLE as varies throughout Britain.

My analogy

This process can be illustrated more clearly if Britain is pictured as a giant dry sponge. If an ice cube was placed on the sponge, over time, the ice would melt and the water would soak into the sponge. The key factor here is the melting into the sponge, not out of the sponge to the surrounding areas. Eventually, the water will seep out of the sponge given sufficient volume leaving the majority of the water still in the sponge, this represents the nature of ‘groundwater’ and it has kept us alive since man has evolved two million years ago.

Geologists and Archaeologists would have us believe that the water from the last ice age just disappeared into the sea without a massive reaction to the land surface. If all the water from previous ice age just flowed into the sea without a detour into the massive aquifers under the soil then the rivers would have run dry long ago and man would have died for he would not have been able to dig the wells he has always needed to survive, if groundwater did not exist.


(by Robert John Langdon)


  1. Robert

    A massive change to the first edition, but with more relative information and clarity.
    Well Done!

    Is the video for release to the networks?

    Dr Stuart Love

  2. Stuart

    The videos of each Chapter - will be released as a DVD collection in June 2013.

    If some production company wishes to used them as a basis of a tv series - I'm open to offers ;-)