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Ancient forest buried under sand on Northumberland coast

An ancient forest which dates back more than 7,000 years 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 200 metre stretch of coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland.

Low Hauxley in Northumberland where an ancient forest is slowly being uncovered by the ocean. Credit: Google maps

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 alde 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.

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.

The sea level is now rising again, cutting back the sand dunes, and uncovering the forest.

– Doctor Clive Waddington
Aerial view of Low Hauxley in Northumberland where remnants of the ancient forest are becoming visible. Credit: Google maps

The forest existed in the late Mesolithic period, which was a time of hunting and gathering for humans.

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.

– Dr Waddington