Book review: ‘Time Song’ by Julia Blackburn

Searching for Doggerland

Time Song

Time Song recounts Julia Blackburn’s personal investigations into Doggerland: the name coined in the 1990s to describe the land that once connected Britain to continental Europe, but which now lies submerged beneath the North Sea. It was a land inhabited by woolly mammoths and rhinoceroses, Neanderthals, and stone-age Homo sapiens. Evidence for these and other former Doggerland inhabitants continues to be dredged from the sea and washed up on the surrounding beaches.

I enjoyed this book very much indeed, not least because it was written by a non-expert. In many ways, it’s more an account of Blackburn finding out about Doggerland than it is about Doggerland itself. It’s the sort of book that encourages you to go and find out stuff for yourself. I’m all for that.

Interspersed between the account of Blackburn’s investigations is a series of poems: the eponymous time songs. Taking their inspiration from various sources, the time songs explore what life in Doggerland might have been like, and summarising the results of recent scientific studies. It’s an unusual approach, but helps to keep the personal narrative flowing without getting sidetracked too far into published research.

An unusual and entertaining book. Recommended.


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