This is the U.K.'s month for unearthing the past. Just weeks after bizarre ancient footprints were discovered on the coast of England, another discovery was made on the coast of Wales — this time of ancient forests.
The recent storms plaguing the U.K. — you might have read about some of the pretty intense flooding — have washed away the layers of peat that typically line the Welsh coast, revealing a series of gnarled tree stumps and roots. Using carbon dating, scientists estimate these trees to have lived during the Bronze Age, between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. The trees are mainly oak, beech and pine, and are thought to have been preserved for so long thanks to the nutrient-rich peat beds that make up much of the coast.
The ancient forests were not entirely unknown — but it's rare to see them more than once in a lifetime. “The forest bed at Wherry Town on the west side of Penzance has not been exposed to this extent for 40 years or more," said Frank Howie, a local resident and Cornwall Wildlife Trustee. “At Chyandour to the east of Penzance rooted stumps are exposed in situ in peaty soils and massive trunks have been washed out onto the rocky foreshore. These forests were growing four or five thousand years [ago] when climate was slightly warmer than today."
The submerged forests are also the source of a popular local legend. The area is said to be home to the Kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod, which was lost under the sea when one of the two princes guarding the area got drunk and left the floodgates open.
This discovery holds important implications about how the coastline might have evolved over the last several thousand years.
"This is an important exposure and research is underway on what it tells us about the climate and environment of the recent past in Cornwall," said Howie. "The storms have washed away parts of this exposure although it is expected that tidal movements will again cover the deposit with sand over the next few months."
Via The Independent