Nature 5: flora not fauna


Despite appearances these are not a fossilised plesiosaur and crocodile –they’re remnants of submerged woodland that reappeared in 2014 as a result of the unprecedented series of storms suffered by the UK this winter (pictured here as on March 8th). 


The storms and tidal surges which scoured Newgale beach in Pembrokeshire exposed ancient peat layers, here seen almost like weathered rock beds but very spongy to touch and rank-smelling.

newgale 3

Pebbles and sand clearly underlie some of the peat layers, suggesting that this sort of episode has happened several times in the past, with new organic material laid down after each disruption.



More substantial pieces of wood remain; these are not fossilised but remain friable because waterlogged in near anaerobic conditions. These pieces variously appear as remains of root systems, branches and logs.

Local geomorphologist Brian John suggests that some of the peat beds “might be more than 7,000 years old” and that “these peat beds and the forest might have survived for at least 5,000 years,” though some others may be not more than a few centuries old.


3 thoughts on “Nature 5: flora not fauna

    1. I’m more familiar with archaeological than geological strata, Lizzie, but the principle’s the same at whatever the scale, as you say.

      The woodland remnants reappearing from time to time all along Cardigan Bay are part of the Welsh legend of Cantref Gwaelod. This is a kind of localised Atlantis legend (also known in Brittany) which is sometimes reminiscent of the moralistic Flood story (Wikipedia page'r_Gwaelod gives some background).


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