Semantics of the Sea — Stories and Science along the Celtic Seaboard

Erin Kavanagh1 and Martin Bates2

1. Sheffield Hallam University. Email:
2. University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Email:

Cite this as: Kavanagh, K.E. and Bates, M.R. 2019 Semantics of the Sea — Stories and Science along the Celtic Seaboard, Internet Archaeology 53.


'The Submerged Forest at Borth' by Ifor Christie, A Level Art student at Ysgol Penweddig. Submitted to Layers in the Landscape. Used with permission.

The stories of Noah, Gilgamesh and Atlantis are internationally known, telling of lands submerged beneath the sea. Similar stories exist for the European seaboard, from Brittany through southern England, Wales, Ireland and parts of Scotland. Today we know that many areas now lost beneath the sea were dry land in the not so distant past; consequently, papers purporting to link the geological events associated with flooding these lands and such stories have been written. However, these papers have been written from the perspective of the scientist, with little regard for the perspective of the story or from that of the story-teller. In this article we attempt to redress this inferred normativity by drawing attention to the problematic nature of such an endeavour, developing a discussion about how else one might approach this balance from that opened by fields as diverse as folklore, ethnography and archaeo-astronomy.

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