[I’ve only been lucky enough on 2 occasions in South Africa to look at something from the ancient past. The once was in the Eastern Cape viewing small dinosaur footprints and where they dragged their tails through the mud now stone.
But even more incredible for me was to view tree fossils in the sea. I found that most incredible. You are looking at trees complete with tree rings and yet it is now solid rock. Some are tree stumps, others are trees lying on their sides. Its truly incredible. In the case of the dinosaurs and the trees you’re looking at something tens of millions of years old, maybe even hundreds of millions of years old.
Below scientists find footprints in Britain 7,000 years old. Jan]
Ancient forest lost beneath the North Sea is uncovered: Shifting sands reveal 7,000-year-old woodland and human footprints
- Archaeologists believe the forest was part of Doggerland, an ancient stretch of land which connected UK to Europe
- The region would have been gradually flooded by melting glacial ice and geological activity over hundreds of years
- But experts say the ancient forest on the Northumberland coastline has been perfectly preserved in a layer of peat
- Archaeologists say that in addition to the forest remnants they have uncovered human footprints from early settlers
The ebb and flow of the North Sea has revealed a waterlogged archaeological secret of Britain’s past – traces of hunter gatherers stalking animals through a long-lost woodland.
An ancient forest, which dates back more than 7,000 years and has lain buried beneath the sand for millennia, is slowly being uncovered by the ocean.
Tree stumps and felled logs, which have been preserved by peat and sand, are now clearly visible along a 650 feet (200 metres) stretch of coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland.
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The North Sea has eroded the shore of a Northumberland beach to reveal the remnants of an ancient forest dating back 7,000 years. Archaeologists believe the preserved tree stumps and felled tree trunks lining a 200-metre stretch of coastline south of Amble would have stretched to Europe before the water mass formed
Studies of the ancient forest, which existed at a time when the sea level was much lower and Britain had only recently separated from what is now mainland Denmark, have revealed it would have consisted of oak, hazel and alder trees.
The forest first began to form around 5,300 BC but by 5,000 BC the encroaching ocean had covered it up and buried it under sand. Now the sea levels are rising again, the remnants of the forest are becoming visible and being studied by archaeologists.
But the relatively rapid change in the surrounding environment would have gradually confined animals and humans in the region to Europe and the UK as the bogs and marshes became flooded, making them impassable.
Doctor Clive Waddington, of Archaeology Research Services, said: ‘In 5,000 BC the sea level rose quickly and it drowned the land.
‘The sand dunes were blown back further into the land, burying the forest, and then the sea receded a little.
Archaeologists are particularly interested in the forest as it would have covered an area once known as ‘Doggerland’, connecting the British Isles to Europe and stretching all the way to the Norwegian trench
Among the remnants of the ancient forest are tree stumps jutting out of the beach, which have been preserved in a layer of peat (pictured)
ANCIENT FOREST UNCOVERED
A 200-metre stretch of ancient forest has been uncovered in Northumberland, north-east England.
The forest first formed around 5,300 BC but the encroaching ocean buried it under sand.
Now the sea levels are rising again, eroding the sand so the forest is again visible.
Archaeologists say they also found human and animal footprints.
‘The sea level is now rising again, cutting back the sand dunes, and uncovering the forest.’
The forest existed in the late Mesolithic period, which was a time of hunting and gathering for humans.
In addition to tree stumps, archaeologists say they have uncovered animal footprints, highlighting the diverse wildlife which would have roamed the ancient Doggerland forest.
Dr Waddington, who says evidence has been discovered of humans living nearby in 5,000 BC, added: ‘On the surface of the peat we have found footprints of adults and children.
‘We can tell by the shapes of the footprints that they would have been wearing leather shoes.
‘We have also found animal footprints of red deer, wild boar and brown bears.’
A similar stretch of ancient forest was uncovered in 2014 near the village of Borth, Ceredigion, in Mid Wales, after a spate of winter storms washed away the peat preserving the area.
Rather than a continuous solid landmass, archaeologists believe Doggerland was a region of low-lying bogs and marshes connecting the British Isles to Europe and stretching all the way to the Norwegian trench (pictured left). The area, which would have been home to a range of animals, as well as the hunter gatherers which stalked them, became flooded due to glacial melt, with some high-lying regions such as ‘Dogger Island’ (pictured right, highlighted red) serving as clues to the regions ancient past
Remnants of the 7,000-year-old submerged forest have been exposed as the waters of the North Sea recede from the beach in Northumberland, exposing the edge of the region called Doggerland
Doggerland is believed to have gradually flooded from a combination of melting glacial ice and geological activity over hundreds of years
But in addition to tree stumps, archaeologists say they have uncovered animal footprints, highlighting the diverse wildlife which would have roamed the ancient Doggerland forest, including red deer, wild boar and brown bears
Peat is able to preserve trees and even the bodies of animals so well because it is so low in oxygen, effectively choking the microbes which break down organic mater, so preserving their organic contents for thousands of years.
But in coastal regions where ancient forest have been long preserved in peat, such as in Wales and Northumberland, the rising seas are washing away this layer and exposing remnants from Britain’s past.
Dog walkers and archaeologists alike can now see the remains of the petrified woodland south of Amble in the north-east of England
The uncovered forest has drawn interest from members of the public walking along the coast as they stop to inspect the preserved trees
Evidence of the forest, which has been preserved in peat, can be seen on a 200-metre stretch of the Northumberland coastline