Where I Once Walked (A Sunken Kingdom)

28 Jun


In May 20l3 shortly after the first set of storms to hit Britain there appeared what looked like many spikes protruding from the sands at a well known site in Borth Wales These were tree stumps exposed from a prehistoric forest, which had been flooded some 5,000 years ago by rising sea levels after the last Ice Age. The stumps previously disappearing from the sands for many years through the coming and going of the tides.

There is a poem children in Wales learn about the sunken kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod, swallowed by the sea and drowned forever after. On a quiet night legend has it, one can hear the kingdoms church bells ringing.  When the sea battered Britain’s coastlines during these storms many people were left homeless and lives lost, but the prehistoric forest tree stumps re emerged.

Ancient Forest exposed at Borth

Ancient Forest exposed at Borth Wales

Ancient Forest exposed at Borth

An ancient forest as it would have looked .


Animal footprints as well as Human prints.

As well as hoof marks from cattle & sheep also goats. human prints were also found at Borth

Just to think I have walked this stretch of sands with my children many times at Borth looking for fossils.

Not even thinking there may have been a sunken kingdom we were walking on.


Shortly after the first set of storms, Dr Nicholas Ashton ,Curator of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic collection at the British Museum commissioned Dr  Martin Bates, a Geoarchaeologist at the University of Wales Trinity St. David to work on Britain’s East coast  in Norfolk. The beach nr Happisburgh, a long standing archaeological site, had suffered severe erosion. Dr Ashton an expert in early humans, required a geophysical survey to map any channels and rivers that may lie beneath about 30 feet of sediment. Some of these channels, he believed may contain evidence of early humans because sources of fresh water would have natural gathering spots.


This ancient footprint with toe print and arch preserved was found at Happisburgh

It is the oldest ever found outside Africa

It was on the second visit May 10th 20l3, that Dr Bates noticed some indentations which looked like human footprints such as those found at Borth. Footprints of humans and animals in Borth had been dated to around 6,000 years ago, the site in Happisburgh was about 900,000 years old, a time when mammoths and hippos still roamed in these parts.


Ancient animal footprints. Borth Wales

A close up of ancient animal footprints discovered at Borth. Wales.

Standing on the ridge of Cardigan Bay  in Borth,  Dr Bates described what the area would have looked like at the height of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago: more than half a mile of ice overhead and dry land stretching across today’s North Sea. The sea level was 400 feet lower than today he said. You could have walked from Denmark to Yorkshire in those days, ” he said.

About 10.000 years ago, temperatures warmed sharply, by eight to ten degrees Fahrenheit. By that time the European ice sheets had melted, but the much thicker North American sheets took much longer. While the climate had warmed to today’s levels, allowing mixed oak woodland to grow and humans to recolonize Britain, the sea level remained some 130 feet lower for another 3,000 years.

When it did rise it would have been traumatic for the population, wiping out whatever settlement there was, and eventually the forest of Borth. The displaced humans of the time, Dr. Bates, said, were prehistoric refugees from climate change. Even in the reduced life span of the day, the coastline would have advanced dramatically, ” said Dr. Bates, who is convinced that the stories like Cantre’r Gwaelod originated in this period.

Similar tales abound on the western European seaboard: There are Cornish and Breton versions, and variations of the theme exist in Jersey and the Orkney Islands. The ultimate legend of course, is Atlantis, which Plato placed  somewhere in the North Atlantic.






Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


8 responses to “Where I Once Walked (A Sunken Kingdom)

  1. Silver in the Barn

    June 28, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Absolutely fascinating!!!! The imagination reels at all of this — ancient footprints and hoofprints and the idea of such an ancient civilization right there in Wales. The legend of church bells tolling really hit me.


    • ritaroberts

      June 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you !. I am so pleased you enjoyed the read. When I recently heard about this I was so astonished to think I used to visit Borth regularly every year because it was only l hour journey from where I lived, and was a good day out to take the kids to the seaside Just to think I was not aware of this fantastic history I had been walking across makes me want to go back again and trace my steps .


  2. dorannrule

    June 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Fascinating as always Rita! Reminds me of a book I loved called “Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier – about the discoveries of fossils on the beaches of Lyme Regis, England in the 19th century. Attributed to men of consequence, the first remarkable finds were actually made by two women, the story takes place in a time when women were thought to be ill-suited to the work or incapable of understanding the scope of their finds. A historical novel based on real people.


  3. ritaroberts

    June 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Yes Dora ! I have that book. Lyme Regis is a great place for fossils. When I go back to England for a holiday shortly I want to go there for more fossils. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment so well.


  4. Alice Nash

    June 29, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Rita, I loved your ;descriptions of the sunken Kingdom. Very well done. Alice xx


    • ritaroberts

      June 29, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Thanks Alice for your nice comment. Glad you enjoyed the read. How are you ?


  5. dianabuja

    July 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Rita – How very interesting! Thanks for piece! (I’m trying to catch up on emails of the past couple of weeks, slow…)


    • ritaroberts

      July 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      O.K. Diana. Glad you liked this post. thanks for nice comments.



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