Ancient animal prints found on Cresswell beach

Barry Mead, left, and Morpeth historian Alan Davison.
Barry Mead, left, and Morpeth historian Alan Davison.

Fresh evidence showing what life may have been like at Druridge Bay as long as 7,000 years ago, has been unearthed by an archaeologist.

Barry Mead has discovered a second set of well-preserved hoofprints, possibly made by an ancient breed of wild cattle, on the beach near his Cresswell home.

One of the 7,000-year-old hoof prints on Cresswell beach.

One of the 7,000-year-old hoof prints on Cresswell beach.

Eighteen months ago, he had found more animal and human prints preserved on the beach in a peat bed, which had been exposed by an exceptionally high tide.

His finds back up the discoveries unearthed during the Rescued from the Sea project at Low Hauxley at the northern end of Druridge Bay.

Led by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Archaeological Services and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this 13-week dig at a Bronze Age burial cairn and Iron Age round house, hit the headlines because of the significance of the evidence it unearthed of human habitation on the Northumberland coast and the sort of animals, including wild boar and deer, that may have been roaming the area thousands of years ago.

Another recent exceptionally high tide coupled with a northerly wind has combined to strip the sand dunes above an area of peat close to Cresswell village, revealing more animal prints.

The remains of a large tree trunk from the same period, when a forest would have covered what is now the beach, can also be seen.

“Although the hoofprints are not as well defined as the ones I found earlier, they could, I believe, have been made by aurochs, a type of cattle that has been extinct in Britain for some 3,000 years,” said Barry.

“What also intrigued me is that my latest find links archaeology from two vastly different time periods existing virtually next to one another; Second World War anti-tank blocks put in place along the beach to hinder the progress of a possible German invasion in 1940 and well-preserved animal prints dating back to the days not long after the North Sea was formed and Britain became an island.”

This Saturday, Barry will lead a tour around the 15th-century Pele Tower at Cresswell as part of Heritage Open Days.

The tower is generally not accessible to the public so it is a rare chance for people to look around.

His historical walk starts at 2pm from Cresswell Ices and if the animal hoof prints are still visible, Barry will include a visit to the site in his walk and talk to show people his find.