Yorkshire’s Lost ‘Atlantis’ Nearly Found, Says Hull Professor | shell

Hopes are high that a legendary medieval city known as “Yorkshire’s Atlantis” is about to be located and will begin to reveal secrets held for over 650 years.

Ravenser Odd was a thriving port town built on sandbanks at the mouth of the Humber Estuary before it was abandoned and then destroyed and submerged by a calamitous storm in 1362.

Daniel Parsons, professor of sedimentology at the University of Hull, was on a family outing at the seaside at Withernsea when he heard of Ravenser Odd, one of the largest of a number of places on the Holderness coast that have been lost over the centuries due to coastal erosion.

He chatted with historian Phil Mathison. “He was telling me that at low tide local lobster boats saw disturbances on the surface suggesting that there are real remnants of the town on the seabed.”

Map of the Humber Estuary showing the intended location of Ravenser Odd.

He started to learn more about the fascinating story of Ravenser Odd and the idea started to form. Parsons is a geoscientist who uses high-resolution sonar systems to better understand how sediment moves. He wondered, could the equipment be used to find that lost Atlantis, and could history be used to shed light on the threat of coastal erosion facing communities today?

Funds were raised for a research project which resulted in a survey of an area off Release point about 10 hectares last year. He didn’t locate Ravenser Odd, but they were close, Parsons thinks, and a second investigation will take place in two to three weeks.

Funds have been raised for a research project which resulted in a survey of an area off Spurn Point of around 10 hectares last year. Photography: c/o University of Hull

“We think we were a little too east,” he said. “Given the stories we’ve had from people on the lobster vessels, I’m pretty confident we’ll find something.”

Once located, it is hoped that funds can be raised for archaeological exploration – and who knows what may be found next, Parsons said.

Ravenser Odd was founded around 1235 with its name coming from the Old Norse hrafn’s eyr (raven’s tongue). It has become a city of national importance with docks, warehouses, a court and a prison. It had two deputies and collected dues from more than 100 merchant ships a year.

There was also a breakwater and a port. “These things are not easily washed away,” Parsons said. “After looking at historic sites and places that have been similarly lost, like in the Bay of Naples, what you tend to find is that the foundations of those settlements are still there.”

The November 2021 Ravenser Odd survey searched an area off Spurn Point.
The November 2021 Ravenser Odd survey searched an area off Spurn Point. Photography: c/o University of Hull

Coastal erosion caused the town to decline and it was flooded in the mid-14th century. In 1362, Northern Europe was hit by a terrible storm called the Grote Mandrenke Storm, or Saint Marcellus Flood, which completely plunged the city into the cold waters of the North Sea.

Parsons is director of university institute of energy and environment and thinks the story of Ravenser Odd could be used to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the climate crisis and coastal erosion, especially as the Holderness coast is one of the most eroding coasts quickly in the world, some areas receding up to 10 meters. one year.

“Understanding the past helps us better prepare for the future,” he said.

“Ravenser Odd is an incredibly evocative story of the impacts of coastal change on entire colonies.

“I think it’s a fantastic way to start conversations with people about the impacts of long-term climate change using these stories from the past.”