Cardigan Bay 4,000 Ago

25 Sep

Around 4,000 year ago, Cardigan Bay was filled not with salt water but with thick forest,, divided by a broad river channel. This landscape was lost to rising sea levels in the early Bronze Age- but now storms have stripped back centuries of accumulated sand and peat to reveal traces of this lost landscape, and the people who inhabited it.

Among the remains of ancient tree stumps and branches, a team of staff and students from The University of Wales Trinity St David, supported by RCAHMW, have recorded human and animal footprints, including tracks from red deer, and most likely horses and sheep

The prints are preserved in the top layer of peat-we think they broadly correspond with the end of the forest in the early Bronze Age or late Neolithic, ‘said  Geoarchaeologist  Dr Martin Bates. They are particularly concentrated around the river channel. In a previous visit to the site we found a great mass of tracks belonging to humans and adults like those discovered at Happisburgh but there are also tracks further from the channel, in what would have been marshy clearings where humans were probably coming to hunt in the forest. They were clearly exploiting a wide range of habitats.’  He added, the forest was pretty massive-we know it goes inland from the modern beach about 5-6km (3.l-3.7 miles) . It is hard to say how far it extended seawards due to later erosion, but the most recent stretch to be exposed stretches about (l.2 miles) north to south.’

Scatters of burnt stones have been found near some of the footprints, while further evidence of human activity was recorded by RCAHMW’s Deanna Groom and Ross Cook who recently discovered a wattle walkway during a beach walking survey after a storm. Made from  short lengths of coppiced branches  secured on each side with posts, it would have helped the area’s Bronze Age  occupants to navigate their waterlogged home. These traces give a really nice link with the past. In one place there are two very clear footprints belonging to a prehistoric child and one could even stand in those footprints where prehistoric people stood thousands of years ago and look out over what is now sea, but what would then have been the land they lived on.

The Prehistoric walkway.

The Prehistoric wattle walkway. Recently discovered by RCAHMW’s Deanna Groom and Ross Cook.


Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “Cardigan Bay 4,000 Ago

  1. Silver in the Barn

    September 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I just love these posts, Rita, they completely spark the imagination! To think that under our beaches are the footprints of prehistoric man and evidence of their farms and homes is just….well, totally awesome! In the true sense of the word!


  2. ritaroberts

    September 26, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for reading Barbara, I agree with your comment. We just don’t know what we are walking on or across, where there is evidence of prehistoric peoples. As you are aware I am always on the lookout for new evidence from ancient times I can write about especially now that I am retired and not involved as it were quite so much.


  3. dorannrule

    September 26, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    It is wonderful to be able to look back so far to a different age and place. They say whete I am living was once beneath the sea. There are fossils to prove it and were displayrd in parlors in the 1840’s as conversation pieces. That was part of my speech as a docent at the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington Virginia so I hop e it is true.


    • ritaroberts

      September 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Dora, I would have loved to hear your speech. Can you remember what were the fossils found and have you found any in your garden. I am really interested.


  4. Violet Shimer-Love

    October 2, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Rita, Great article! I have familial roots from the UK and enjoy ancient stories very much. I feel a kinship with these survivors and I’m strengthened by their fortitude, somehow.


    • ritaroberts

      October 3, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Hi Violet, Nice to see you on my blog, Thanks for reading! Do you live in England now?



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