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            Scottish scientific instrument maker, invented a revolutionary steam engine which

            burned coal as its fuel. Around the same time, Abraham Darby, a Quaker and owner
            of an iron works in Shropshire, discovered how to make iron using coke (baked coal)
            instead of charcoal. Between them, Watt and Darby triggered an industrial revolution
            based on coal, iron and steam power. The rise of the Atlantic world and the industrial
            revolution both show how geography shapes history, but history changes what the
            geography means.

            Cognitive Geographies

            Morris’ formula implies that geography acts as the framework in which history
            happens. But in the case of Doggerland, we see something highly unusual and even
            paradoxical: geography itself changing as an identifiable event. True, the rise in sea-
            levels of which the inundation was the most dramatic event, did not happen
            overnight, but archaeologists believe the foraging people who lived through it must
            have noticed dramatic changes. Sometimes slowly, sometimes terrifyingly quickly,
            the sea claimed their ancestral hunting grounds, campsites and landmarks. There

            must have been eyewitnesses, even though we obviously don’t know their names or
            have any eyewitness accounts. This is prehistory, which is defined as pre-writing. All
            we have is the hard evidence of the geological surveys and artefacts.

            Yet this inundation was a big moment, both a spectacular and a defining change; it
            made us offshore islanders. Barry Cunliffe argues that archaeologists have to go
            beyond the material evidence and ask how the inundation would have appeared to
            the hunter-gatherers who experienced it. This is apparently unanswerable.


            But he applies an interdisciplinary concept called “Cognitive Geography”. I quote him
            at length (from Barry Cunliffe Britain Begins 2012):

            “How the early Britons perceived the lands in which they lived is impossible to say
            with any degree of certainty. Until around 6,000 BC hunter-gatherers will have had

            little conception of the major geomorphologic changes going on around them, but
            thereafter the rate of inundation and the catastrophic effects of storm surges were on
            such a scale that coastal communities, particularly those around the fast-expanding
            North Sea, will have experienced irreversible changes within a lifetime. The sense of
            the sea as a force for change and as an inundator would have become embedded
            within folk memory.”
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