Archaeology discovery: Storm uncovers ‘exciting’ lost ancient beach forest

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This summer the UK has experienced a series of tumultuous weather fronts and several storms, including Storm Francis. When Francis hit Wales, finding its way to the west coast, its gales blew away debris, uncovering even more of the ancient forest that was buried by sand some 4,500 years ago. The forest previously had swathes of it exposed over the preceding ten years, and can often be seen in Borth, Ceredigion.

After the most recent storm, new trees can now be seen 13 miles (21km) south in Llanrhystud.

Tests are now being carried out at the Llanrhystud site to determine its age.

Dr Hywel Griffiths, from Aberystwyth University, said the find was “both exciting and worrying”.

He is part of a joint research project between groups in Wales and Ireland.

As a collective, they are looking at and monitoring the change in coastal environments around the country.

He said: “It’s exciting because it’s additional evidence of these climate change processes that have been going on for so long.

“But also worrying because we are seeing these landscape changes occur more often.

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‘It’s due to the impact and influence of the storms that feel like they are happening more.”

Previous carbon dating of the remains has placed the forest as having lived around 1,500 BC.

The forest has also become associated with a 17th century myth of a sunken civilization known as Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Sunken Hundred.

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According to the legend, the kingdom was lost at sea when Seithenyn, the guardian of sea defences, forgot to close the gates.

Another version of the myth states that the forest once stretched 20 miles to the west of Cardigan Bay.

Historian Gerald Morgan said: “It’s an addition to what we already know about the extraordinary number of petrified trees that have been found all along the coast of Wales.

“It’s exciting because we have found another one that hasn’t been recorded yet.”

The extent of the prehistoric forests’ geographical size was first realised last year after Storm Hannah exposed a considerable mass of it.

The remains of the trees, preserved in the local peat, have been exposed by low tides and high winds.

It was first discovered in 2014 as bits and stumps of tree species such as oak, ash, and birch.

In addition to the tree stumps, the remains of a walkway were also found by members of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

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