|12 December 2010
Prehistoric footprints found on a British beach
Prehistoric human footprints have been found along a 4 km strip of coast between Formby and Ainsdale (England) that date back some 5,000 years. Archaeologists dubbed the discovery 'sensational', claiming it is one of the most significant historic footprint finds Britain has seen.
Over the last few weeks hobbyists have been scouring the sand dunes with a fine tooth comb and have struck lucky with their latest findings. Marine scientists explained how the beaches are receding, which forces layers of sand and sediment to disperse, leaving land which has lay undisturbed for thousands of years. They added that while the footprints often appear and disappear depending on the weather and season, the new discovery came as a shock to many people. Mysterious footprints have been found in the area since the 1950s but the latest finds also shows that deer, six foot cattle and birds from the Bronze Age once roamed the area.
The first person to take an active role in studying the footprints was Mr Gordon Roberts back in 1989. Now 81-years-old, Mr Roberts devised his own system of monitoring and tracking the prints by location. "They have found footprints from aurochs, a breed of cattle which is now extinct, but they would have been very ferocious and fearsome animals standing at six feet tall," he said.
Andrew Brockbank, countryside manager for the National Trust, explained how the footprints are unveiled. "Throughout different periods of history there were animals in Formby coming down to the water's edge and as the coastline was building, their footprints became locked in the sediments. But now the coastline is receding it is beginning to uncover some of the sediments and now you can clearly see some really amazing footprints."
Dr Mark Adams, senior archaeological project officer at the museum of Liverpool, is involved with the Sefton Coast Partnership who are investigating Formby's dunes. He hailed the discovery as "up there with the best exposures this country has ever had in terms of prehistoric footprints."
Dr Adams, who recently visited the site, added: "Just weeks ago the finding was between five and ten trails of human footprints along with a really good exposure of red deer prints. We are trying to get local people involved to help us find more and are looking to organise some archaeology training sessions for next year."
Scientists looking to protect the footprints could create a marine conservation zone in the area to protect their heritage. To get involved with the project you can contact Dr Mark Adams on 0151 4784260 or for more information on marine conservation zones visit www.irishseaconservation.org.uk
Edited from Champion News (9 December 2010)
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