Illustration (rendering) of a sunken city

Legendary Lost City Emerges from the Northern Sea

A legednary city, long-lost to the North Sea's watery depths, has emerged leaving experts surprised. The city was said to have sunk in one single day after a punishment from God due to its inhabitants sinful behaviours.


A fabled city, Rungholt, long lost to the North Sea’s watery depths, has emerged from the shadows. According to legend, a punishing storm sank the city in a single night due to its inhabitant’s sinful behaviors.

(*The featured image is an artistic rendering)

Legendary Lost City Emerges from the Northern Sea

The book of Genesis recounts God’s wrath raining fire and brimstone upon the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Rungholt’s legend has served a similar warning in German lore. Inhabitants’ hedonistic lifestyle led to their downfall during one Christmas when a group of inebriated young men sought to force a priest into giving a pig the last rites at a local inn. The priest prayed for divine punishment and left the city. A cataclysmic storm followed, wiping Rungholt off the map.

Ring the Bells of Rungholt

The city’s lore maintains that its bell tower’s sound echoes from the North Sea’s depths. Despite historians’ doubts about the city’s existence outside of mythology, a collaborative effort from several university archaeologists and geologists has unearthed this “Northern Atlantis” in the Wadden Sea, near the island presently known as Südfall, located 17 kilometers off Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein west coast.


Resurrecting Rungholt

“We’ve located and mapped the hidden settlement remains beneath the mudflats over a wide area using various geophysical methods like magnetic gradiometry, electromagnetic induction, and seismic,” said Dennis Wilken, a geophysicist from Christian-Albrecht-University in Kiel.

The discoveries have included a port, large church foundations, and drainage systems, shedding unprecedented light on the North Frisian people’s lives.

Racing Against Time to save a Legendary City

Archaeologists are in a race against time as continuous erosion threatens the uncovered remains and save what they can from the legendary lost city that finally emerged from the Northern Sea. Hanna Hadler from the University of Mainz’s Institute of Geography warns, “The remains of medieval settlements are already badly eroded and often only detected as negative traces. So, we urgently need to step up the investigation.”

Challenging the Sea

While divine punishment theories are beyond modern archaeology, researchers found compelling evidence that Rungholt’s inhabitants attempted to tame the North Sea with vast dikes. Beneath the tidal flats lies a 35-meter thick levee, complemented by small artificial hills known as terps, designed to keep buildings safe during floods.

Rungholt: The Prosperous Fortress

Rungholt was a prosperous city for its time. Settled by mainland Frisian people in the 8th century, the island was fortified against the waves, complete with cultivated bogs and numerous drainage ditches. Evidence suggests the traders acquired pottery, metal jewelry, and weapons from distant lands, including Flanders and Spain.


Unfortunately, neither their cunning nor wealth could shield them from the 1362 “great drowning of men” – a disastrous storm surge that devoured Rungholt and 250,000 acres of lowland, claiming thousands of lives and displacing the coastline by approximately 15 miles to the east.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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