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Footprints in Time

Modern symptoms of climate change are revealing how the ancient inhabitants of South Wales dealt with their changing environment.

Footprints in Time

Rising sea levels and climate change are no new thing. 10,000 years ago the coast of South Wales was beginning to sink beneath the waves, forests gave way to marshland and eventually became the beaches we know today. Due to an increase in stormy weather over the past few years, remnants of these ancient landscapes are now emerging from beneath the sand in the form of peat. Within this peat, ancient footprints and forests are appearing.

These glimpses into past worlds formed the foundations for a series of three workshops, delivered to young people to:

  • introduce and share knowledge, involving schools in new and innovative research projects.
  • raise awareness of historic and current climate change and human responses to this.
  • raise awareness about local politics and planning decisions .
  • raise educational aspirations, encouraging students to consider STEM subjects and careers.

In the first workshop, participants were introduced to the idea of drowned landscapes and archaeological evidence in the intertidal zone, focusing on the Port Eynon footprints. Participants contributed their own height and foot length to a dataset that has been gathered from a wide range of sources. They then used this data to try to interpret selected prints from the Port Eynon assemblage, including whether they were adult or child, male or female, and their age.

Workshop 2 asked participants to work out the type of environment the footprints were made in. Identification methods were introduced using prototype 3D printed pollen grains, which allowed participants to handle and rotate a number of species that they were trying to identify.

In the final workshop, participants were introduced to the idea of resource exploitation in the Severn Estuary and how our “footprints” have changed from prehistory through to the present day. Using the government's My2050 website, a group debate was initiated on how best to reduce our carbon footprint. Pupils concluded the session by creating stop motion animations to highlight key lessons.

Further information

This project was designed and delivered by representatives from Cardiff University School of History, Archaeology and Religion in conjunction with Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd. For further information contact:

Professor Jacqui Mulville

Professor Jacqui Mulville

Professor in Bioarchaeology, Head of Archaeology and Conservation

+44 (0)29 2087 4247