Ancient Cornish forests exposed by storms

Oak or possibly beech tree trunks revealed at Chyandor Photo: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The recent damaging storms have shifted huge quantities of beach sand and shingle in several places around the South West's coastline, uncovering the remains of ancient forests which once extended far off-shore. Cornwall Wildlife Trust says the large trunks of oak, beech and pine in peat beds that are now exposed in Mount's Bay near Penzance are particularly impressive.

An exposed tree trunk at Daymer Bay Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The forest bed at Wherry Town on the west side of Penzance has not been exposed to this extent for 40 years or more. The storms have revealed two to five metre trunks of pine and oak as well as the remains of hazel thickets with well-preserved cob nuts and acorns washed out by streams running across the beach.

– Frank Howie, Cornwall Wildlife Trustee
Large bough of oak washed out of peat and onto rocks at Chyandor Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Although the ‘submerged forests’ of Mount’s Bay have been known for centuries, the trust says they are rarely uncovered to the extent now seen at low tide on the beaches at Wherry Town and Chyandour.

Eroding bed of peaty soil at Daymer Bay Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Geologists have used radiocarbon dating on timber from the peat beds in Mount’s Bay and it is thought that extensive forests extended across the bay between 4000 and 6000 years ago.