5 incredible buried British treasures

James Reader investigates some of the incredible artefacts unearthed by wild winter weather on Britain’s coastlines

Illustration photo of 5 incredible buried British treasures

Britain’s south-western shores experienced the equivalent of years of damage at the hands of ferocious weather in our most recent winter season, which saw beaches and sea cliffs severely eroded, coastal defences destroyed and public transport brought to a halt. In the aftermath, however, the shifted sand, stones and shingle of our south-western shorelines uncovered something spectacular: buried treasure and relics from 10,000 years of British history. Here are my top 5 coastal caches...

[1] WWI GERMAN SHIPWRECK, Booby’s Bay, Padstow, Cornwall

The 18m SV Carl sank at Booby’s Bay in 1917 while being towed to London to be broken down into scrap metal. Before the storms, only parts of this German sailing vessel were visible, which was impounded in Cardiff at the beginning of WWI. Photo: Phil Ellery

[2] 10,000-YEAR-OLD FOREST, Newgale, Pembrokeshire

The ancient forest, which was previously buried under a pebble bank sea defence, dates as far back as the preagricultural Mesolithic Period. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority heritage manager Phil Bennett said: “10,000 years ago this woodland area would have been visited by hunter gatherer bands from time to time, looking for game and collecting edible plants, nuts and berries.” Photo: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

[3] 18TH CENTURY CANNONS, Porthcawl, Bridgend

It is believed that a 1.4m cannon and 0.9m swivel gun recovered on Porthcawl beach are both late 18th century or early 19th century relics, possibly used in the Napoleonic Wars or simply as protection for merchant ships. Photo: Porthcawl Museum and Historical Society

[4] WWII TANK TRAPS, Rest Bay, Porthcawl, Bridgend

Tank traps built in 1940 to protect against German beach landings have become exposed at Rest Bay. Porthcawl historian Keith Morgan said: “They were chains and old railway lines which were embedded upright in the beach. They would have been around six or seven feet above the level of the beach. I can remember them stretching from Swansea Bay all the way round to Porthcawl.”

[5] UNEXPLODED MINES & MORTAR SHELLS, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall & Pembrokeshire

The Royal Navy’s Southern Dive Unit has dealt with hundreds of unexploded bombs since December, including a 45kg anti-submarine mine at Watwick Bay, Haverfordwest, a rare WWI German mine near Newquay, and live mortar bombs at Poole Harbour, Mount Batten Point and Crow Point.