Formby's Footprints Walk with Jamie Lund
WAS FORMBY BEACH LIKE A STONE AGE ‘SUPERMARKET’? Asks National Trust Archaeologist Jamie Lund.
The Formby Bubble goes in search of footprints on the beach in the National Trust’s’ celebrated Footprint walks, led by their archaeologist Jamie Lund. Recent tides had scoured the mud flats where these prints had been sun-baked in the mud, laid down over an estimated 3,000 years, with the oldest ones, that are the further out, thought to be some 7,000 years old. The New Stone Age prints include giant deer – the aurochs, red deer and roe deer, birds including cranes, dogs and wolves as well as the prints of our own ancestors.
Searching the mud flats
What will we find? The great joy of these guided walks is that the prints that are found are not predictable and there is always the element of surprise, such as the bear prints found in 2016.
After Jamie’s explanation of the layers of mud being sun-baked and covered successively by sand, the walk headed south. towards the Lifeboat Road access point. No human prints but what Jamie described as ’the best examples of Crane footprints that I have ever seen on the foreshore’. From this, a brief detour to demonstrate and explain the spent tobacco waste in the dunes, dumped here by Liverpool tobacco processors, and now as harmless as beds of peat.
The crane print
Tobacco waste in the dunes
About turn - strike north! Was it an archaeologist’s sixth sense that made Jamie turn the group north? He was right – brilliantly so! We continued searching the sediment beds and found what he described as ‘a ‘wonderful pair of adult human footprint trails walking side by side’ as we explored the mud north of the Victoria Road entrance. ‘Possibly this was almost a Stone Age Waitrose or Sainsbury’s supermarket’ he mused. There was nutrition in the form of fish from the sea close by and the deer and birds. It’s possible that the Stone Age average human height – around 4ft 10* for men, 4 ft 8” for women could have been exceeded here, with so much nutritious food at hand.
Stone Age footprint and 21st Century foot compared
Further walks are planned with advance booking essential. There is a £5 fee to help cover costs and literature. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby. At the moment there are places available in September and October. There is an excellent free leaflet written by Alison Burns available at the Formby National Trust Membership and Information Trailer and a comprehensive booklet by Alison has been published through the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership.
Footprint leaflet. Published by the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership - pick one up on your next visit to the Membership and Information Trailer
These are available online: https://issuu.com/aburns22/docs/prehistoric_footprints_leaflet_coll