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Storms help to uncover more of Vazon Bay’s ancient forest

News | Published:

AN ANCIENT forest has reappeared from beneath the sand and pebbles.

It was visible before Christmas, but recent gales have stripped more of the top layer of sand at Vazon and a section of peat and tree stumps has been uncovered between La Grande Mare and Vistas.

This is the third time in the last decade that part of the forest has been uncovered on the beach. States archaeologist Dr Phil de Jersey said that on this occasion a particularly large area has been exposed.

‘The interesting thing is how the exposed areas turn up in different places, according to the winds and tides,’ he said.

‘And that changes over time.’

The trees flourished along what is now the west coast thousands of years ago and while their remains are most commonly seen at Vazon, where an area of peat is often seen directly below La Grande Mare, the woodland is known to have stretched between Perelle and Cobo.

Dr de Jersey said it was hard to know for sure how far the woodland stretched out to sea, although he believes it was to at least what is the present day low spring tide mark.

‘I have occasionally heard from people who have spoken to surfers,’ he said.

‘And they say they have seen tree stumps way out there [in the bay].’

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Despite being thousands of years old, it is still possible to see the woodgrain in the tree stumps, which are surprisingly solid and well preserved.

‘The wood is waterlogged, so it does not decompose as [usually] there is no oxygen getting to it,’ Dr de Jersey said.

‘It is nice to see it and in a day or two it will be covered back over again.’

There are changes in colours of the peat, which show where medieval islanders had dug out the material to use as fuel in the past, although Dr de Jersey said it would not have been a very effective one.

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He added that they were always keeping an eye out for any stone axes that might be encased in the peat.

These have been found in the past – the axes would have been used to cut the wood – but none have been found here yet.

However, there is evidence of ancient wood cuts in some of the stumps.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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