Atlantis Online

Timelines of Ancient Europe => History of Britain => Topic started by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 08:34:34 am

Title: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 08:34:34 am

                                         New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'

(Jan. 18, 2008)

— The lost city of Dunwich, Britain's own underwater 'Atlantis',

which has captured the imagination of people for centuries, could be revealed for the first time with high-tech underwater sonar.

Professor David Sear, of the University of Southampton, and marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon, will explore the ancient sunken city, off the Suffolk coast, in the early summer.

Dunwich, fourteen miles south of Lowestoft, was once a thriving port, and in the 14th century similar
in size to London. However, storms, erosion and floods over the past six centuries have almost wiped out this once prosperous city, and the Dunwich of today is a quiet coastal village.

The project will use the latest underwater acoustic imaging technology to assess the existence of any remains from the city that lies between 10ft (3m) and 50ft (15m) down.

Professor Sear comments: 'We will be applying new technology to the investigation of what has become known as "Britain's Atlantis", and making this information publicly available. Technical advances, such as side-scan multibeam sonar have massively improved our ability to create accurate acoustic images of the seafloor, and this survey should greatly enhance our knowledge of the site.'

Diving evidence suggests the site contains debris from at least two churches and a priory, but underwater visibility at the location is very poor, and no one has any idea what remains (if any) exist from the medieval settlement that was lost in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Stuart Bacon, Director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies, first located the lost city in the 1970s and has dived there many times. He and Professor Sear hope to begin exploring the seabed in June.

The city-scale survey of the sea floor will provide information on the location and state of any structures of archaeological interest in relation to historical records. The findings will be presented as a new public display for the Dunwich Museum, documenting the technology used and what the project has revealed of the lost city.

The expedition is being funded by a £20,000 donation from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The GeoData Institute, a University of Southampton-based research and consultancy group, is managing the project and dealing with collation and digital capture of the data and interpretation, while EMU Ocean Survey are conducting the actual survey.


Adapted from materials provided by University of Southampton.
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 MLA University of Southampton (2008, January 18). New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/01/080116165058.htm

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 10:12:14 pm

Dunwich shown within Suffolk

OS grid reference

 - London
112 miles (180 km)


Suffolk Coastal

Shire county


Constituent country

Sovereign state
United Kingdom

Dunwich (IPA: /ˈdʌnɨtʃ/) is a small town in Suffolk, England, within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

Dunwich was the capital of East Anglia 1,500 years ago and was once a prosperous seaport and centre of the wool trade during the Early Middle Ages, with a natural harbour formed by the mouths of the River Blyth and the River Dunwich, most of which has since been lost to erosion. Its decline began in 1286 when a sea surge hit the East Anglian coast and it was eventually reduced through coastal erosion to the village it is today.

It is assumed that the Roman 'Stone Street' runs from Dunwich to Caistor St Edmund near Norwich.

There is currently a project to reveal the 'lost' city with high-tech underwater cameras.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 10:19:12 pm

At its height Dunwich was one of the largest ports in Eastern England, with a population of around 3,000, eight churches, five houses of religious orders, three chapels and two hospitals. The main exports were wool and grain and the main imports were fish, furs and timber from Iceland and the Baltic region, cloth from the Netherlands and wine from France.

Dunwich is first referred to in the 7th century when St Felix of Burgundy founded the See of East Anglia at Dommoc in 632. Years later antiquarians would describe it as being the 'former capital of East Anglia',[2] although this reference is almost certainly a romantic creation as no documents survive from the town's heyday which refer to Dunwich as such. The Domesday Book of 1086 describes it as possessing three churches. The historian and diver Stuart Bacon, who has made several visits to the seabed in a bid to find the remains of the old town, has found evidence that it may have possessed up to 18 churches and chapels at the height of its fortune during the 12th and 13th centuries.

In 1286 a large storm swept much of the town into the sea and the River Dunwich was partly silted up. Residents fought to save the harbour but this too was destroyed by an equally fierce storm in 1328, which also swept away the entire village of Newton, a few miles up the coast. Another large storm in 1347 swept some 400 houses into the sea. A quarter of the city had been lost and the remainder of Dunwich was lost to the sea over a period of two to three hundred years through a form of coastal erosion known as long-shore drift. Buildings that sit on the present day cliffs were once a mile inland. In 1754 the antiquarian Thomas Gardner published a highly influential history of Dunwich (and two other towns, Blythburgh and Southwold) with images of some of the lost churches, but some of his claims have been disputed by later historians.

Most of the original buildings have disappeared, including all eight churches and Dunwich is now a small coastal "village", though retaining its status as a town. However, the remains of a Franciscan priory (Greyfriars) and a building constructed as a hospice for lepers can still be seen. A popular local legend says that, at certain tides, church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves.

By the mid-19th century, the population had dwindled to 237 inhabitants and Dunwich was described as a "decayed and disfranchised borough".  A new church, St James, was built in 1832, after the last of the old churches, All Saints, which had been without a rector since 1755, was abandoned. It fell into the sea between 1904 and 1919, with the last major portion of the tower succumbing on 12 November 1919. In 1971 the historian Stuart Bacon located the remains of All Saints' Church a few yards out to sea during a diving exhibition. Two years later in 1973 he also discovered the ruins of St Peter's Church which was lost to the sea during the 18th century. Most recently, he has located what may be the remains of shipbuilding industry on the site.

As a legacy of its previous significance it retained the right to send two members to Parliament until the Reform Act 1832, making it an example of a rotten borough.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 10:20:30 pm

Ruins of All Saints' Church

Churches and other notable structures

The ruins of All Saints' Church in Dunwich, here in a postcard of 1904All Saints' Church: last of Dunwich's ancient churches to be lost to the sea, All Saints' was abandoned in the 1750s after it was decided the parishioners could no longer afford the upkeep, although burials occurred in the churchyard until the 1820s. All Saints' reached the cliff's edge in 1904 with the tower falling in 1922.  One of the tower buttresses was salvaged, however and now stands in the current Victorian-era St James' Church.

St Bartholemew's: one of two 'Domesday' churches, St Bartholemew's is thought to have been lost in the storm of 1328.

St John the Baptist: situated beside the market place in the centre of the city, St John's was Dunwich's leading church throughout the Middle Ages. It was a cruciform structure which also contained a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas. In 1510 a pier was erected in an attempt to act as a breakwater from the sea and in 1542 further funds were raised in a bid to save the building, but to no avail and the building was largely demolished before it went over the cliffs. During the demolition the 18th century historian Thomas Gardiner records that a stone was uncovered to reveal the remains of a man on whose breast stood 'two chalices of course metal'. It is possible that the remains may have belonged to a Saxon bishop of Dunwich and that therefore St John's may have been built on the site of the original cathedral.

St Leonard's: situated in the north of the town, St Leonard's is thought to have been abandoned soon after the Black Death and was probably lost to the sea soon afterwards.

St Martin's: built before 1175, it was lost to the sea between 1335 and 1408.

St Michael's: the other Domesday church situated in the east of the town. It was lost to the sea in the storm of 1328.

St Nicholas: like St John's this was a cruciform building which lay to the south of the city. Lost to the sea soon after the Black Death.

St Peter's: similar in length to the church at nearby Blythburgh, St Peter's was stripped of anything of value as the cliff edge drew nearer. The east gable fell in 1688 and the rest of the building followed in 1697. The parish register survives and is now in the British Library.

Preceptory of the Knights Templar: the preceptory is thought to have been founded around 1189 and was a circular building not dissimilar to the famous Temple Church in London. When the sheriff of Suffolk and Norfolk took an inventory in 1308 he found the sum of £111 contained in three pouches - a vast sum. In 1322, on the orders of Edward II, all the Templars' land passed to the Knights Hospitallers. Following the dissolution of the Hospitallers in 1562 the Temple was demolished and the foundations washed away during the reign of Charles I.

St Francis Chapel: standing beside the Dunwich River, the chapel was lost in the 16th century.

St Anthony's Chapel: lost around 1330.

St Katherine's Chapel: situated in the parish of St John, this was lost in the 16th century.
The Benedictine Cell: the cell was attached to Ely Cathedral and was lost during the storm of 1328.

Blackfriars: Dominican priory situated in the south east of the city. It was founded during the time of Henry III by Roger Holish. By 1385 preparations were made for the Dominicans to move to nearby Blythburgh as the sea front drew nearer, although these were certainly premature as the priory remained active and above sea level until at least the Dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, with the last building recorded as having fallen to the sea in 1717.

Greyfriars: Franciscan priory founded by Richard FitzJohn between 1228 and 1230 but abandoned due to the advancing sea in 1328. It was rebuilt further inland (outside the original city limits) and the ruins survive to this day, the only building from the town's glory days to do so, although the encroaching cliffs are now but a few feet away

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 10:24:16 pm

RAF Dunwich

During the Second World War an RAF radar station was located at Dunwich.

By the start of the war Britain had a very effective radar system called Chain Home (CH). The nearest CH station to Dunwich was at RAF High Street near Darsham. The CH system was supplemented with Chain Home Low (CHL) stations which, though having a shorter range, could detect much lower flying aircraft.

Two CHL installations were situated on the cliffs at Dunwich Heath (now National Trust land). One site has been lost due to cliff erosion, but the other was further inland and will probably not be lost till early next century (at current rate of erosion). There is, however, very little left on the site. An outline of concrete post holes mark the boundary fence and the concrete base of the guard room are all that appear to survive. The foundations of the masts are believed to have been broken up for hard-core in the 1950s.

Further to the north an American centimetric radar station was established. This site is now a private caravan park.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 12, 2009, 10:25:17 pm

Dunwich Seafront today

Dunwich today

The town lies between Walberswick and Southwold to the north and Sizewell to the south and near the birdwatching areas of Dunwich Heath and Minsmere.

Dunwich is the destination of the annual semi-organised bicycle ride, the Dunwich Dynamo, which leaves Hackney in London on the Saturday night closest to the full moon in July and arrives in Dunwich on the Sunday morning.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Trina Prior on May 13, 2009, 01:01:13 am
Very cool.  I heard on a clear day that you can see the submerged buildings off the shore if you look in the water. 

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Trina Prior on May 13, 2009, 01:02:01 am
You should ask the mods to pin this one, too!

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 13, 2009, 07:36:35 pm

Hi, Trina!

I think this is a great story, too.  Yes, I'll get the Mods to give it a stickie.  I don't want it to
get lost.

I couldn't finish it last night, 'my mouse died on me'  LOL, LOL!

So, I'll do it tonight.....

There is one thing that really gets to me, 'though, about the majority of announcements of this type:
very seldom they publish follow-ups for consumption by the the public at large where they can be
easily found.  Very frustrating.

Let's hope this is different.

All the best,


Did you see this article?,10151.0.html

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 13, 2009, 07:41:56 pm

Further reading

Ancient Dunwich: Suffolk’s Lost City, Jean Carter and Stuart Bacon. (Segment, 1975)

The Lost City of Dunwich, Nicholas Comfort (Terence Dalton, 1994), ISBN 0-86138-086-X

Men of Dunwich, Rowland Parker (Alastair Press, 1978), ISBN 1-870567-85-4

A Suffolk Coast Garland, Ernest Read Cooper (London: Heath Cranton Ltd, 1928).

Memories of Bygone Dunwich, Ernest Read Cooper (Southwold: F. Jenkins, 1948).

The little freemen of Dunwich, Ormonde Pickard

"By the North Sea" and Tristram of Lyonesse, Algernon Charles Swinburne, in Major Poems and Selected Prose, Jerome McGann and Charles L. Sligh, eds. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004) 189-202, 206-312.

Dunwich: A Tale of the Splendid City, James Bird, 1828.

See also

Dunwich (UK Parliament constituency)

Lost city


Easton Bavents

External links

All Saints, Dunwich

Low tide reveals lost city find (BBC News, 10 October 2005)

The town, its history, people, and destruction by coastal erosion


Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 13, 2009, 07:47:09 pm

                                                  Low tide reveals lost city find 

Oct. 10, 2005

Archaeologists believe that photographs taken along the Suffolk coast may prove that the ancient city of Dunwich may have been connected with shipbuilding.

Recent exceptionally low tides have revealed timbers and banks that experts say may be connected with shipbuilding at Dunwich nearly 500 years ago.

Photographs taken by members of the Suffolk Underwater Studies group show piles driven into the sea bed.

Director Mr Stuart Bacon said "They might well be a shipyard slipway."

Jane Chick, from Halesworth, one of the beach observers, happened to go on that stretch of beach 10 days ago at low tide and took photographs of what she thought were sea defences.

"I interpreted them as something entirely different to that and highly exciting," Mr Bacon said.

"They might well be slipways used for shipbuilding or might be an anchorage point or quay or a support for a landing area for boats.

"I am confident that they are part of a complex connected with the declining port of Dunwich and whilst I have seen piles more than 30 years ago what these photographs show is something entirely new," he said.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 13, 2009, 07:50:58 pm

Sonar, underwater camera and
scanning equipment will be used

                                                 Underwater city could be revealed 

Jan. 14, 2008
Britain's own underwater "Atlantis" could be revealed for the first time with hi-tech underwater cameras.
Marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon and Professor David Sear, of the University of Southampton, will ex-
plore the lost city of Dunwich, off the Suffolk coast.

Dunwich gradually disappeared into the sea because of coastal erosion.

"It's about the application of new technology to investigate Britain's Atlantis, then to give this information to the public," Professor Sear said.

Mr Bacon, director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies, first located the debris of the lost city in the 1970s.

Title: Re: New Survey To Reveal 'Britain's Atlantis'- HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on May 13, 2009, 07:59:26 pm

Technical advances

"I know the site like the back of my hand because I have dived on it about 1,000 times," said Mr Bacon who has been working on the medieval site since 1971.

"We have found three churches and one chapel."

There is diving evidence of debris from lost chapels and churches but high silt levels in the water means visibility is only a few centimetres.
Mr Sear, professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton, said: "Technical advances have massively improved our ability to create accurate acoustic images of the seafloor."

The expedition will use the latest sonar, underwater camera and scanning equipment to build up a picture of the ancient sunken city, that lies between 10ft (3m) and 50ft (15m) down.

Dunwich was the capital of East Anglia 1,500 years ago.

Its decline began in 1286 when a sea surge hit the East Anglian coast and it was eventually reduced through coastal erosion to the village it is today.

Mr Bacon and Professor Sear hope to begin exploring the seabed in June.

The expedition will cost £25,000 - £20,000 of which has already been raised through a donation from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Maps and images of the lost city will be exhibited at the Dunwich museum.

A dive of the site will take place later in the year.