The Hidden History of the 1607 Flood

Posted on 19 January 2011
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Professor Simon Haslett

The 1607 flood in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary was the worst ever recorded in the British Isles – but was it due to a tsunami or a storm? BBC2 Wales’ Hidden Histories revisits this debate at 7.30pm on Thursday 20th January in which the eminent Welsh geographer, Professor Simon Haslett of the University of Wales, is interviewed by the program's presenter, Eddie Butler.

Details of the catastrophic flood came to light through the research of Professor Haslett, and his colleague Dr Ted Bryant, a tsunami expert from the University of Wollongong in Australia.

The area affected by the flood stretched from North Devon, through Somerset and Gloucestershire, and along the South Wales coast from Monmouthshire to Carmarthenshire, some 570 km of coast.

“The coastal population was devastated with at least 2000 fatalities according to one of the contemporary sources. In some parts of the coast, such as the Gwent Levels, the population is thought never to have recovered from the social and economic disaster” said Professor Haslett.

In their research, Professor Haslett and Dr Bryant used documentary and fieldwork evidence to propose an interpretation of the floods cause as a tsunami; a theory that grabbed the public’s attention in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

The BBC made a Timewatch programme about Haslett and Bryant’s research entitled Killer Wave of 1607 that was broadcast in 2005, and then a follow up Britain’s Forgotten Floods in 2008, suggesting a tsunami in the Severn may not be an isolated occurrence around the British coast.

Professor Haslett, who is Dean of the School of STEM at the University of Wales, undertakes research into coastal geography and education, and is author of the acclaimed book Coastal Systems (published by Routledge). He is committed to the public understanding of science and has written extensively in newspapers and magazines, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.

/ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Further information about Professor Haslett’s 1607 flood research can be found at: http://profsimonhaslett.blogspot.com/2011/01/great-flood-of-1607-tsunami-or-storm.html 

For more information on The University of Wales please visit: www.wales.ac.uk 

For press and media information, or for interview enquiries, please contact Communications Officer, Tomas Llewelyn Barrett t.barrett@wales.ac.uk 

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