14th March 2014
All around our coastline there have been huge geomorphological changes that came with the ferocious stormy seas and high winds that we have experienced quite consistently throughout this winter. I wrote a blog recently exposing how the Spring Tides and Storm Swell caused damage in Polzeath .
However, some of these changes have brought to the surface some fascinating insights to the natural history of our county.
There have been huge shifts in sand on Daymer Bay in North Cornwall, this has revealed evidence of a 4,400-year-old forest. Between 4000-5000 years ago the coastline at Daymer Bay would have been between 5 and 10 miles further out and this area was covered in extensive forest.
This stunning piece of preserved history reveals secrets from Cornwall’s past and research is being conducted into it’s climate and environmental conditions of the time.
Frank Howie, Cornwall Wildlife Trustee and chair of the Geoconservation Group, said around 20 tree stumps have been uncovered on the bay, which grew when the climate was slightly warmer than today.
“The storms have revealed trunks of pine and oak as well as possibly beach and yew, and as well as several rooted tree stumps, Neolithic shell middens and fossil soils containing snails, some now rare or extinct in Cornwall, have been exposed,” Mr Howie said.
These submerged forests are evidence of how the sea level has risen. It is said that there are also fossilised frogs, toads, undergrowth and other species associated with vegetation of this kind.
It is hoped that in time the ancient forests with again be covered with sand. Mr Howie adds, “These sites are all very fragile and it is likely that any further storms and trampling by interested onlookers may damage the deposits.”
Signs of damage are already visible. Here you can see how chunks of the ancient soil are breaking away:
Here is an example of how the run off is eroding through the delicate layers:
There are many other beautiful natural wonders that the storms have uncovered recently such as these stunning sand formations and large boulders with huge quartz crystal veins cracked open by the elements exposing the glittering treasure inside.
We are very lucky to be given this amazing opportunity to see our past so vividly on our shores.
For further reading see the article published in the Cornish Guardian – Storms uncover 4,400-year-old forest on Cornwall’s Daymer Bay and the article by the BBC – UK storms: Ancient forest revealed in Mount’s Bay sand. This article details some of the other interesting things that have been uncovered around our coastline.