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Ancient human footprints on Welsh coastline are '7,000 years old'

Ancient human footprints discovered on the Welsh coastline are 7,000 years old and could show a snapshot of a Mesolithic hunting party, researchers have said.

These tracks are thought to be that of a 6-year-old child. Credit: Cardiff University

Discovered in 2014, the pre-historic footprints of both children and adults at Port Eynon, on the Gower peninsula, were initially thought to date to the Bronze Age.

But analysis carried out at Cardiff University has revealed they are actually 3,000 years older than that.

Experts say the tracks show a snapshot moment of a Mesolithic hunting party. Credit: Cardiff University

Archaeology PhD student Rhiannon Philp carried out radiocarbon dating on the fragile footprints, which now places them in the Mesolithic period, a time when humans were predominantly hunting and gathering.

Ms Philp said: "These 'frozen' footprints made in freshwater marshland give us a fleeting glance of a group of adults and children travelling together seven millennia ago."

Traces of the footprints are now glimpsed only at low tide. Credit: Cardiff University

But the picture is even more precise. Wild animal tracks suggest deer and wild boar moving in the same direction.

What we might be witnessing 7,000 years later is a snapshot moment of a Mesolithic hunting party tracking their prey through an open, boggy landscape now lost to the waves.

– Rhiannon Philp

A spokeswoman for the University said post-Ice Age human footprints were rare in the UK, with only nine recorded intertidal sites, the majority of which are in Wales.

Traces of the footprints are now glimpsed only at low tide.