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Submerged Forest, Borth Sands

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Map ReferenceSN69SW
Grid ReferenceSN6069190255
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire

The remains of a former fenland/forest landscape, usually only exposed in small areas at a time after winter storms have caused the covering of sand to be drawn offshore. The exposures comprise compacted peat and the stumps and branches of trees (see also NPRNs 506512-4). 
Event and Historical Information: 

A survey was undertaken in 1985 by University of Lampeter accompanied by an analysis of palaeobotanical aspects. The results suggest that the forest flourished between 5,000 and 4,500 BP. From 4,800 - 4,000 BP, the area became waterlogged with peat growth, although oaks were growing until 3100 BP at the southern end. A hearth (NPRN 506498) was dated by association with the peat to 4,000 BP. Finds recovered included a Mesolithic composite tool of antler, two flints, and part of the skeleton of an auroch. In recent years, the exposures of the forest appear to have become more extensive. For example, in late January - early March 2010, a large area of peat and tree stumps was exposed running northwards from approximately opposite Borth Tourist Information Centre. In December 2010, a new £13 million pound Coastal Defense Scheme was begun to protect the village. Yet, over the winter of 2011-2012, another large area of peat became exposed at Upper Borth (southwards of the RNLI Lifeboat Station). In this area, human and animal footprints fossilized in the now hardened peat surface, a line of post holes and scatters of burnt stone have been detected by staff and students of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology at the University of Wales Trinity St David. The Royal Commission has provided survey support, mapping the extents of the peat and other exposed features. Borth's completed Coastal Defence Scheme was opened by Environment Minister John Griffiths on 8 March 2012. During the winter storms of January 2014 further erosion exposed a wattle walkway with associated posts. Sitting below the hardened peat surface the walkway possibly dates from 4000 – 3100 BP, being dated by association with previous finds. The walkway is formed from coppiced timber laid side-by-side running away from the beach, with posts to either side to secure the walkway in place. 
Sources include: 

  • Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER, PRN 30898 

  • Hughes, P.D.M. and Schulz, J. , 2001, The development of the Borth Bog (Cors Fochno) mine system and the submerged forest beds at Ynyslas. In, Walker, M.J.C. and McCarroll, D. (eds.) The Quaternary of West Wales: Field Guide pp. 104-112. 
    Internet resources: 



 Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, March 2012. 

The EU-funded CHERISH Ireland-Wales project (2017-2023) undertook archaeological and palaeoecological work around Borth beach. This included taking cores from the dunes and beach ridges at Borth and Ynyslas. Dating of the sand overlying the peat bog deposits was undertaken using Optically Stimulated Luminesence dating (OSL). These data were used to understand how long the spit took to develop through long-shore drift, and when it reached its current location. In the wider landscape, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) was combined with high-resolution Airborne Laser Survey (ALS) data to reconstruct how the course of the river Leri has changed through time. 

H. Genders Boyd, CHERISH, October 2022

application/pdfRCSR - RCAHMW Digital Site ReportsNon-Intrusive Survey of Ynyslas Nature Reserve:Aberdyfi Estuary carried out by RCAHMW 2012 and updated 2014.
application/pdfDSC - RCAHMW Digital Survey CollectionDigital copy of Report: Level 1 Survey, Borth Submerged Forest.