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Frankie goes to Cantre’r Gwaelod

11 September 2020

Robert sent in this link – www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8718291/ … Storm Francis, or Frankie, has exposed parts of a petrified Welsh forest  that has been submerged for around 4500 years, it is alleged. The petrified trees, possibly not entirely turned to stone, or even marginally stone like in composition, were uncovered by the storm and high tides on the west coast of Wales, at Llanrhystud on Cardigan Bay to be exact …

.. Cardigan Bay is thought to be the legendary Cantre'r Gwaelod, a mythical sunken kingdom. Remains of trees are regularly unearthed during storms – but they are not necessarily petrified in the true sense of that word. Submerged tree stumps in my experience still feel quite woody. However, it is possible they were petrified – it depends on what  was happening at the time. I have some stumps of definitely petrified tree that go back to the Jurassic, found in a sand quarry. They are thought to have been buried in a great storm. I won't labour the point but this is a journalistic report. Remains of similar tree stumps were found at Borth just a few years ago, not far from Llanrhystud (see map above) and are regularly uncovered from Norfolk in the east to Devon in the  west. It emerges the tree stumps were bruied in peat and covered by sand, and drowned by salt water. The new discovery suggests the extent of the forest extended far out to sea, as in the legend. If you go to the link you will find climate change invoked – as if storms did not occur before the present generation were alive and kicking. Fear not. There is a lot of historical information on buried forests around the coasts of Britain – but you can't expect a journalist to sniff this out.

       in a few  weeks time the sand will shift again and the tree stumps will disappear once more. The daily tide will see to that.

Later, we learn that alder (which grow in watery and wet locations) as well as oak and birch trees (a drier kind of forest habitat) and even pine trees, are involved, and they stopped growing between 4500 and 6000 years ago. One suspects they are referring to the tree stumps from Borth rather than Llanrhystud, and it is being blamed on rising sea levels.

For further information on flooded landscapes around the UK see Nigel Pennick, 'Lost Cities and Sunken Lands'  Capall Bann:1997 (revised edition), Basil Cracknell, 'Outrageous Waves: Global Warming and Coastal Changes in Britain through Two Thosand Years'. Phillimore of Chichester:2005, and Alastair Dawson, 'Introducing Sea Level Change' Dunedin Academic Press:2019.


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