Ancient secrets of the sand unveiled

Barry Mead at the newly revealed site at Druridge Bay.
Barry Mead at the newly revealed site at Druridge Bay.

A DOG walker took a step back in time during his routine stroll, finding footprints thought to be 7,000 years old.

Archaeologist Barry Mead was walking his dog Peedie on the beach near his Cresswell home when he came across a newly-exposed inter-tidal peat bed.

The find, at the southern end of Druridge Bay, included footprints dating back thousands of years, which are the first of their kind to be found at that part of the beach.

Some of the tracks were made by animals, but others could be human. Experts have described them as a ‘fantastic find’ and say they may even be better than ones found last year further north.

Mr Mead, who is Heritage Officer at Greater Morpeth Development Trust, said: “I walk the beach very regularly, but have never seen this peat bed until now.

“When I looked more closely you can clearly see lots of footprints, along with some large tree trunks, one of which is still attached to its root system.”

Mr Mead, who believes the peat bed may have been uncovered during a recent tidal surge, took part in a Rescued From The Sea dig at the bay last year.

The excavation site at Low Hauxley, about four miles north of the latest find, was known to contain remains that could have been lost to erosion within a few years.

Dr Clive Waddington led a 13-week dig with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Archaeological Research Services, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to rescue and record the remains.

The excavation unearthed material believed to have been deposited by a catastrophic tsunami and finds included an ancient peat bed, Mesolithic and Neolithic remains, a Bronze Age burial cairn, and an Iron Age roundhouse.

Adult and child footprints were found, as well as those of wild boar, deer and cattle, which radiocarbon dating confirmed as being more than 7,000 years old.

Mr Mead, who is one of five volunteers regularly walking the beach to report further finds, said: “My discovery of these latest footprints adds to the picture that has been built up of what life may have been like thousands of years ago on this stretch of the Northumberland coast.”

He added: “It is quite incredible to stand on the beach and look at footprints that may have been left by animals passing this way perhaps thousands of years ago.”