A Walk On The Beach Uncovers An Ancient Mystery Thousands Of Years Old
Photo via Nothumberland Coast National Landscape/Facebook

A Walk On The Beach Uncovers An Ancient Mystery Thousands Of Years Old

A simple walk on the beach has both archaeologists and geologists excited and a little bit baffled. A man in the United Kingdom stumbled upon an ancient mystery while walking his dog at a local beach.

According to Northumberland Coast National Landscape's blog post, a man and his dog found some unusual pits in the ground near the shore while walking through Foxton Bay in Northumberland. Officials have gone back and forth on what the beach pits could be. Initially, they thought they were graves dating back to the Bronze Age. However, there's an alternative theory that's more plausible.

"These pits are thought to be bait or fish tanks from the post-medieval or modern periods rather than burial costs," the blog post explained. "Key features of the tanks are side and base slabs made of shale and a thick clay lining. They are around 1m x 0.5m and an almost oval shape and have no top slabs."

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According to Northumberland Coast National Landscape communication officer Helen Wilson-Beevers, most of the pits went unnoticed until now. "Our current hypothesis is that they date back to somewhere between the 17th and 20th centuries," Wilson-Beevers explained.

Meanwhile, local historian Adrian Osler offered his own expertise supporting the idea of them being fish tanks. "In the absence of direct evidence as to the purpose and date of these structures, they are best considered reductively in respect of known historic shoreside activities, which could include bait storage, live catch storage or preserving lines and nets," Osler said.

Beach Offers Mystery

"The principal baits used in inshore longline fisheries were limpets and mussels, either of which might convenience the fisher if held in large numbers in short-term storage in water. For example, 'Bait [storage] pits' cut into bedrock have been reported from Cresswell," he added.

The tanks were cut into the beach rock, another rarity for beaches especially in the United Kingdom.

"[The beachrock's] position implies it was formed at a time when sea level is higher than it is now," Northumbrian Earth geologist Ian Kille said. "There have been fluctuations in mean sea level in post-glacial times which may account for this. This can only narrow the timeline for beachrock formation down to between approximately 1,000-6,000 years ago."

Some theorize that ancient man may have created the beachrock themselves rather than it being natural.

"There is a possibility the beachrock is man-made. And could've been a mixture of beach sand and lime to stabilize the bait traps," Wilson-Beevers said. "But the assumption we're working with is the beachrock offers evidence that the high tide mark in this location was at one point slightly further in land than today, which is very interesting."