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People stealing souvenirs from Isle of Man’s ancient forest

Archaeologist Andrew Johnson, Curator of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage, examining a length of coastline at Cranstal, Bride, which has been washed away by the recent storms to uncover a prehistoric forest

Archaeologist Andrew Johnson, Curator of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage, examining a length of coastline at Cranstal, Bride, which has been washed away by the recent storms to uncover a prehistoric forest

  • by Alan Vincent
 

Manx National Heritage has appealed to the public not to disturb the prehistoric forest discovered earlier this month after reports of people taking pieces of it.

iomtoday reported that the storms lashing the Isle of Man had uncovered an area of prehistoric forest at Cranstal, Bride, after shingle and sand were washed away.

Curator of field archaeology at Manx National Heritage, Andrew Johnson, said: ‘I received an email saying people had been seen removing pieces from the site.

‘I’ve been out to the site and can confirm that a small number of the trees have been removed.

‘The force required to do this, and the positions from which some timbers have been taken, would lead me to suspect that this has not happened as a result of wave action.

‘It is regretable, we’re not saying it’s illegal or a crime, but what we are trying to do is get a small number of local specialists, who have expressed an interest, to assist in examining the site over the coming weeks.

‘It’s primary evidence that we could make use of in any scientific investigation of these remains.

‘All I can ask is that if people can resist the temptation to help themselves, it will help us to understand the site much better.

‘I would emphasise that, whilst we already knew of the existence of this forest, only a limited amount of research has previously been possible.’

Mr Johnson estimates that the large timbers, root systems and perfectly preserved tree stumps are more than 10,000 years old but says without the opportunity to study the findings it is difficult to get the full picture.

He continued: ‘It’s a sort of layer cake of thousands of years of geology, you can’t really say how old it is until you understand the relationship between the layers, we’ll have to take scientific samples to understand the environment at that time.

‘It’s a very technical job to understand how it all takes place and takes a good amount of time.

‘We can take radiocarbon dates, study silty deposits to see if there are any fresh water creatures in there, or marine creatures which will tell us how the sea reclaimed the Irish Sea basin after the Ice Age, it’s very exciting.

‘There’s a whole range of analysis providing deposits aren’t disturbed.

‘I completely understand the public interest but it makes it harder to take this great opportunity if things are disturbed.’

This follows the discovery of 10,000-year-old trees uncovered by storms at a Newgale beach in Pembrokeshire, and tree stumps and roots believed to date from the Bronze Age unearthed on a shore near the Welsh village of Borth.

Further down the west coast of the UK the storms have uncovered more ‘submerged forests’ on Cornish beaches.

 

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