– A very long time ago, Britain was connected to the European mainland. Then a series of dramatic geological events resulted in that Britain was separated from Europe.
Researchers have found evidence of how an ancient great flood destroyed a thin strip of land that once connected ancient Britain to Europe.
The new evidence is very interesting because unlike previous theories of the process, however, the study claims it took at least two major events to complete the separation.
It was previously assumed that Britain separated from mainland Europe because of rising sea levels, but the truth was more complex.
According to Imperial College London professor Sanjeev Gupta co-author on a paper published in Nature Communications, a chance series of geological events set the stage for Britain becoming an island
“If it weren’t for these events, in a sense the history of Britain would have been completely different,” he added, pointing out that if the ridge had never been breached, Britain would have remained attached to northern France with easy access to the rest of Europe.
About 450,000 years ago Britain was connected to France by land bridge that was about 32 km long. Behind it was a great lake, likely dotted with icebergs, with ice stretching across what is now the North Sea.
The data shows a valley system and huge holes on the seafloor. In France, there are around seven of these holes, or plunge pools, around 328 feet deep in a solid rock line between Dover and Calais. The straight line backs up the idea the holes were created by waterfalls cascading over a ridge about 328 feet high and around 20 miles long – the land bridge – to hit the ground below and erode rock.
Whether the flooding was caused by melting of the ice sheet or some something else is not yet entirely clear, but about 125,000 years ago, water sweeping out of a glacial lake in what is now the North Sea resulted in a megaflood that destroyed the land bridge.
“The breaching of this land bridge between Dover and Calais was undeniably one of the most important events in British history, helping to shape our island nation’s identity even today. When the ice age ended and sea levels rose, flooding the valley floor for good, Britain lost its physical connection to the mainland. Without this dramatic breaching Britain would still be part of Europe. This is Brexit 1.0 – the Brexit nobody voted for,” Professor Gupta said.
Britain is currently going through a separation from Europe politically, but the Geological Brexit took place almost half a million years earlier.