Friday, 21 October 2011

Hartlepool’s Submerged Forest (NZ520315 & thereabouts)

On the foreshore at Hartlepool, and a little to the south towards Seaton Carew, lies an expanse of ancient submerged forest dating to around 6-8,000 years ago.  It isn’t always submerged: the occasional harsh winter scouring brings it to the surface once every decade or so, when it then makes the news for a short period before disappearing from view.

In Mesolithic times, this little corner of the North-East was covered with woodland and peat bog – and extended a good way out to sea, too, with Britain, at the time, still connected to mainland Europe via a chunky land-bridge.  When the sea level rose, the forest was flooded, and the present-day coastline slowly developed. 

Several archaeological investigations have taken place in the area in recent decades, during which time worked flints and lines of stakes, etc., have been discovered, including a two-metre stretch of wattle hurdling dated to 3,600BC.  In 1971, the remains of a Neolithic man were found in nearby peat deposits.

But ancient remains have always been coming to the surface, ever since the 18th and 19th century development work in and around the town.  And records show, in fact, that a ‘wood of Hartlepool’ still existed as recently as the 13th century.

It is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

More info here, and a picture of one of the famous stumps can be found here.

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