Did you know about Cleethorpes' very own Atlantis?
THE idea of a world drowned and lost forever under the cold, murky depths of water is one many will find as eerie as it is fascinating.
Most will remember watching in horror as the jaws of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami swallowed homes whole, caused chaos as cars crashed on top of roofs, the unnatural sight of drowned animals, horses and cattle slumped in trees.
It was a terrifying reminder that the land, and everyone on it, is simply no match for the sheer force of the sea – a painful stab in our basic survival instinct that we cannot survive underwater and are dependent on air to live.
Perhaps this is why underwater worlds have been at the heart of myths and legends for centuries – from the sunken city of Atlantis to the Little Mermaid's home of Atlantica.
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And fascinating as it is, few locals know that evidence exists of Cleethorpes' own Atlantis – a "lost forest" engulfed in the cold North Sea.
Starting at the toe of the Wonderland groyne, the stumps of a sunken forest stretch the length of the coastal plain and are believed to date back to 2000 BC, suggesting the resort's golden sands were once home to rich green oak, birch and alder.
And flint hand axes and tools found around the site suggest that once Stone Age men wandered this land, foraging for their families.
Local conservationist Robert Palmer came across a flint hand axe in the 1970s, close to what is now Suggitts Lane slipway.
Catalogued by the Lincoln Museum as a Neolithic hand axe – a period of time which relates to the development of human technology – his discovery was one he will never forget.
He said: "I couldn't believe it. It is one of those things you just don't expect to find. I stared at it and thought, the last time a person had this in their hand was thousands of years ago.
"It is probably worthless, but that was never the point. For me it was being able to hold a part of our history. It would have been very interesting to meet the chap who held it before me."
Little is known about the forest, although North East Lincolnshire Council's archaeology team will investigate the site next year.
What is known is that when the trees grew, they were probably 20ft above sea level – but during the last four millennia the relative levels of land and sea have varied.
The fact that they are bedded in peat and are continuously under water – apart from at low tide – has preserved them.
According to the Rapid Coastal Zone Assesment Survey of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (RCZAYL), five Bronze Age stone axe hammers – one of which recorded a radiocarbon date of c1400 BC – have been discovered there.
Similar remnants have been found up and down the Humber – an area which would have been highly attractive to traders and settlers – suggesting the sunken forest settlement continued to thrive throughout the Bronze Age.
In 1954, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield, Councillor and Mrs OS Holmes, visited Cleethorpes, during which they waded out to the forest and sawed off part of a tree.
It is thought this was turned into a chest that is still in Cleethorpes Town Hall. Artefacts also pop up in antique shops around the resort.
But how this once luscious green space became submerged is what fascinates local amateur historians and enthusiasts the most.
While some believe it was down to the ever changing shape of the River Humber, others speculate they are evidence of Doggerland, a huge area of prehistoric land that was swallowed up by the North Sea between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.
And although the dates suggest Cleethorpes' sunken forest came after this, the idea we have remnants of this mysterious land that once attached Britain to the rest of Europe on our doorstep is quite appealing.
Local blogger, known only as Kate, said: "Now the word you want is Doggerland. If anyone has relatives who fished the Dogger Bank area during Grimsby's glory days, I'm sure they can tell tales of ancient logs and even stone tools and the bones and teeth of extinct mammals dredged up by trawler nets."
Scientists believe Doggerland was home to tens of thousands of people and animals before it disappeared under water and they have recovered the fossilised remains of a mammoth and human burial ground from the seabed.
It would have been a land with hills and valleys, large swamps, lakes and rivers, lost forever following a series of dramatic events – including a terrifying tsunami.
But no matter how these eerie stumps of Cleethorpes came to be underwater, they are fascinating evidence of a world we will never know.
That once, men with bare feet roamed these forgotten woods, foraging for their families, protecting their tribe. A simple time fraught with danger.
It is hard to imagine but when the tide washes over to reveal these unassuming tree stumps, it is even harder to forget.