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Submerged Forest, Newgale

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Map ReferenceSM82SW
Grid ReferenceSM8475422138
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPembrokeshire
Old CountyPembrokeshire
CommunityNolton and Roch

The remains of a submerged forest, and associated peat deposits are periodically exposed on Newgale Beach when sand levels are lowered (see also NPRN 544148). Finds have included a Bronze Age Axe and an antler. 

The remains at Newgale are amongst the oldest to be attested in historical sources; Gerald of Wales, writing in 1191, provides a colourful description of petrified forests at Newgale in Pembrokeshire which had been exposed in the 1170s:

“We then passed over Niwegal [Newgale] sands, at which place (during the winter that king Henry II spent in Ireland), as well as in almost all the other western ports, a very remarkable circumstance occurred. The sandy shores of South Wales, being laid bare by the extraordinary violence of a storm, the surface of the earth, which had been covered for many ages, re-appeared, and discovered the trunks of trees cut off, standing in the very sea itself, the strokes of the hatchet appearing as if made only yesterday. The soil was very black, and the wood like ebony. By a wonderful revolution, the road for ships became impassable, and looked, not like a shore, but like a grove cut down, perhaps, at the time of the deluge, or not long after, but certainly in very remote ages, being by degrees consumed and swallowed up by the violence and encroachments of the sea.”

More recently, the historical Ordnance Survey mapping describes 'Submarine Forest' running along the low water line as part of the annotation at Newgale.

Sources include:
Bell, M, 2007, Prehistoric Coastal Communities: The Mesolithic in Western Britain, CBA Research Report 149, pg2
Cambrensis, Geraldus, 1191 (1908 edition), The Itinerary through Wales: Description of Wales, Dent, London
Dyfed Archaeological Trust, HER Ref: 12991, 111198
Leach, A L, 1918, Flint working sites on the submerged land (submerged forest) bordering the Pembrokeshire coast, Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 29, 46-67NAW aerial photography 2006-9
OS 1st edition 25in

J.Whitewright, RCAHMW, March 2022