Lake Flixton was a series of linked post-glacial lakes which were formed in The Vale of Pickering at the end of the Holocene period while the landscape of North Yorkshire was still recovering from the grips of the last ice age. These lakes are known to have supported stone-age human communities due to the artefacts which have been discovered preserved in the peaty soils. From their formation they would have slowly started to in-fill with plant material from marginal and lake bottom habitats. As this plant material built up it formed into layers and because of the saturated conditions with low oxygen availability it could not decay as normal, so peat was formed, which built up in layers until little or no open water remained (around 7,000 years ago). Drainage of the land for agricultural purposes has meant that much of the peat has dried out and shrunk (read more about this in Vanishing Peat elsewhere on this blog), meaning that any artefacts preserved within these rich soils will be lost forever unless we try to preserve it.
Can one see anything of Lake Flixton today? The short answer is ‘no’ but it depends on your perspective. The wetland is very much still there, but it doesn’t look like a lake, rather a series of arable and pasture fields. However, the water table is rarely more than a metre deep and in many places only centimetres down for a large part of the year. If one jumps heavily, the ground quakes and a tremor propagates away from the spot like a ripple. It reminds us that Lake Flixton never went far away, in fact it is only a inches below our feet. This effect was never more apparent than when standing out on The Carrs while a herd of cattle galloped away in an adjacent field. The whole ground itself felt like a wobbling water-bed and could be seen to shake. Perhaps quaking Lake Flixton is still with us?