Researching The Isthmus Part 2: The Tropical Ocean – Aurochs horn, dredged off Dogger Bank

“The formation of the Agger Isthmus … to the Dogger land bridge and the formation of amber in ancient  submerged forests”.

Last week I had the opportunity to handle an Aurochs horn and skull plate dredged by a local fisherman off the Dogger Bank:


During the last ice age the Dogger Bank was part of a landmass connecting the Europe continent and the current British Isles. Fishing trawlers often dredge up peat, fossil remains of mammoth and rhinoceros, and Paleolithic (Neanderthal) hunting artefacts.

The Aurochs is an extinct type of large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, and is the ancestor of domestic cattle. The last recorded Aurochs died in Poland in 1627.

The horn is incredibly heavy (which it should be, as it is completely silicated), and it was easy to picture herds of these huge animals grazing the prehistoric plains between Jutland and Britain. In May this year, I had the opportunity to see an entire Aurochs skeleton at the National Museum in Copenhagen:


I’m facing a bit of a challenge here: how to tell the earliest history of the Agger Isthmus…

“As the characters struggle for survival, the breathtaking high points of Jutland’s story are woven together: its geographical origins in a tropical ocean to the development of salt deposits, limestone, flint and volcanic ash layers; from the formation of amber and its lure for Roman traders through the dynamic development of Bronze Age farmers to Viking explorers; from the arduous life of fjord-fishermen, farmers and cattle drovers to West Jutland’s pivotal role in the dramatic events of both World Wars.”

… without reading like a history textbook! I am going to have to revisit Bill Bryson and James Michener’s narrative nonfiction in order to find a solution… follow this space!


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