Monday 23 October 2017

Storms reveal forest's secrets

The remains of an ancient forest which echoed to the sound of hunter gatherers 10,000 years ago which have been uncovered by a week of severe new year storms
The remains of an ancient forest which echoed to the sound of hunter gatherers 10,000 years ago which have been uncovered by a week of severe new year storms

The remains of an ancient forest which echoed to the sound of hunter gatherers 10,000 years ago has been uncovered by a week of severe new year storms.

Hidden under a dense pebble bank sea defence, the ancient forest became visible on the beach at Newgale, west Wales, only when the weather died down.

The site, which falls within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, was severely battered by gale force winds and violent storms last week.

Archaeologists from the National Park Authority (NPA) are now battling against time to ensure that vulnerable parts of the submerged forest are protected.

Working with colleagues from Pembrokeshire County Council, NPA experts are also involved in the major coastal clean-up operation now under way.

Raging storms pushed the pebble bank sea defence back across the coastal road, in Newgale, making it impassable to traffic.

Phil Bennett, NPA culture and heritage manager, said: "We've known of the existence of this forest for many years but I, for one, have never seen it so close to the road.

"The storms and high seas have pushed the pebble bank back and scoured the sand, exposing the remains of this woodland. We have been able to identify some recognisable timbers from the Mesolithic period.

"Ten thousand years ago this woodland area would have been visited by hunter gatherer bands from time to time, looking for game and collecting edible plants, nuts and berries as these resources became available during the year."

NPA archaeologist Pete Crane has also visited the site to give advice on how the council should restore the pebble bank on top of the fragile remains.

Council workers are now covering the most vulnerable parts of the forest with pebbles, as extended exposure to the sun will dry it out and it will be lost.

Mr Bennett added: "It's really important that people are aware of how fragile these remains are and understand that unless we protect them they will be gone forever."

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