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DOVER STRAITS

  1. Summary
  2. Maps
  3. Additional Information
Summary
DATE06/04/1580
ORIGIN TIME18:00:00 UTC
LOCATION 51.060 1.600
DEPTH 22.0 km
MAGNITUDE5.8 ML
LOCALITYDOVER STRAITS

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Additional info

This is one of the most celebrated of all British earthquakes, supposedly alluded to by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. The epicentre was undoubtedly between Dover and Calais, and the earthquake was felt over most of England, certainly as far as York and possibly as far as Edinburgh in Scotland (the dating of the Edinburgh report is uncertain). Also the earthquake was felt over much of Northern France, throughout the Low Countries, and perhaps also in Germany.

Damage was caused in Kent and the Pas de Calais/Low Countries area, and also in London (where two apprentices were killed) and as far away as Ely and Leicestershire. There were also casualties in the Low Countries.

Seismic sea effects in the Channel were certainly observed. It has been suggested that some of the strong effects attributed to the earthquake were actually caused by a storm a few days later.

In London, a spate of pamphlets describing the earthquake and exhorting people to repentance were published, and some of these have survived, providing fuller contemporary descriptions of the effects of this earthquake than for any previous British event. A special prayerbook to be read in churches or by families was issued as a means of calming the alarmed population. As far as I am aware, the last time this prayerbook was actually used was in 1884 after the Colchester earthquake.

Sources: Neilson et al (1984a), BGS material.

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