Close-up of the intricate pattern of woodgrain in ancient wood preserved by peat.

Some of the ancient wood that has long been buried in peat and clay deposited after the last ice age has wonderful textures and woodgrain patterns. Whole recumbent tree trunks have been emerging from the peat as a result of recent beach erosion at Whiteford on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. This wood is not fossilised but is preserved in its original state by the anaerobic conditions in which it was buried – in the same way that the bodies of the so-called Bog People were preserved.

12 Replies to “Ancient Wood in Peat”

  1. A lot of people on Gower apparently hold that belief. I do not know if it is true. I do know that enormous quantities of sand can be moved around naturally by tide and current resulting in redistribution of the sand to new areas. At Whiteford, the sand seems to be moving from one area to another, so that sand erodes from the dunes and the shore at the Point and then accumulates in a massive bank closer to Broughton Bay.

  2. Thank you, Allison. I would love to know what kind of tree it was. The trunk is big. I could guess at oak but maybe someone else with greater expertise could say for sure. I cannot believe that no one is undertaking research on this newly emerging archaeobotanical material (not sure if that is the right term but it sounds right).

  3. Delightful post, Jessica. So fascinating. I love it when these ancient forests show themselves. They pop up from time to time along the Oregon and Washington coastline. If these would have emerged on a Pacific Northwest beach, biologists would have been all over them. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. Thank you, Julie. I expect someone from the nearby Swansea University is aware of this and working on it. The whole peat exposure is interesting. I am going to post more pictures. You can see the stumps of trees with their root systems just where they were growing; and if you break up the peat you can find leaves and twigs.

  5. Thank you, Jo. I am wondering whether the alternating beds of peat and clay in the beach hold any artefactual or other evidence for early human activities!

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