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Antlers are thousands of years old

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Borth beach bonanza: Dr Martin Bates and the 4,000 year-old skull

Borth beach bonanza: Dr Martin Bates and the 4,000 year-old skull

DR MARTIN BATES and a team of research staff from the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Lampeter are currently examining a large red deer skull and antlers that are believed to be around 4000 years old.

The skull was first spotted on the beach at Borth, Ceredigion by Julien Culham and Sharon Davies-Culham in early April. Rather than attempting to remove the skull from the beach, they reported it to the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth who in turn alerted UWTSD’s Dr Martin Bates who has been working in Borth for many years.

“This is a wonderful discovery that really brings the forest and its environs to light,” says Dr Bates.

“The ‘unhelpful’ tides during the two weeks since the discovery meant that no progress could be made in recovering the find. Then last Friday, an attempt was made to relocate the skull, but even at low tide, the area of beach containing the find remained under 1m of water.

“Concerns about the possibility that bad weather may cause extensive movement of sand and gravel on the sea bed – resulting in either covering up the find or damaging it – meant that we decided to attempt to relocate the find beneath the water,” continues Dr Bates.

“This was only possible because the original site was photographed and an approximate position could be calculated from this information. The seabed was searched methodically by feel and touch until, remarkably, the skull was relocated. Its position was recorded and the find removed for cleaning and recording. Further investigation of the find spot will be made during the next set of low tides in early May,” continues Dr Bates.

The find comes from a large channel cut through the well-known fossil forest preserved at Borth.

Previously this channel yielded the bones of a large auroch, an extinct form of large wild cattle that once lived in Europe. This was discovered in the 1960’s but has subsequently been lost to academic study.

The forest and peat deposits either side of this channel date to between about 6000 and 4000 years ago – the time of the last hunter gatherers and the earliest farmers in Britain.

“Although the exact age of the skull has yet to be confirmed, it’s probable that the channel within which the find was made is contemporary with the forest, and so an age in excess of 4000 years old is likely,” adds Dr Bates.

“It is wonderful that this find was reported to us so that we could recover these remains for scientific study rather than it ending up on the wall in somebody’s house, lost to the world much as it has been for the last 4000 years,” he continues.

Dr Ros Coard, a faunal specialist at UWTSD Lampeter says: “Animal bones are known to erode out of their original deposits all along the coast of Wales, especially after the winter storms and are often reported by members of the public. None are as large or as impressive as this recent find however.

“Although the antlers and partial skull still have to undergo full analysis, the antlers can be said to come from a very large, mature male red deer. The individual was certainly in the prime of his life showing full development of the large antlers. They will undergo further analysis at UWTSD in Lampeter.”

The discovery is on part in an on-going series of investigations undertaken by staff at UWTSD into the forest and its environs. Construction activity of the new sea defences have provided new opportunities to study the forest and the work, funded by Ceredigion County Council, is being undertaken in Lampeter on samples recovered from this scheme.

This project should provide detailed reconstructions of the forest through its life and may shed light on how and why the forest died and the sea flooded the area once again.

Dr Bates has also recently won a grant from the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) to combine a group of specialists from diverse fields (artist, storyteller, philologist, geoarcheologist, songwriter and poet) to create a new understanding regarding the interplay of flooding facts and fictions in Cardigan Bay.

This new find, returning from this flooded landscape, may now play a central role in this project.

In addition to his work in Borth, Dr Martin Bates is involved in exploring the lost landscapes of the Norfolk coastline and in 2013 discovered a series of footprints left by early humans in ancient estuary muds over 800,000 years ago at the Happisburgh site in Norfolk

The footprints, discovered in May 2013, were the oldest recorded footprints outside of Africa and are direct evidence of the earliest known humans in northern Europe. The footprint surface was exposed at low tide as heavy seas removed the beach sands to reveal a series of elongated hollows cut into compacted silts.

The surface was recorded using photogrammetry, a technique that can stitch together digital photographs to create a permanent record and 3D images of the surface. It was the analysis of these images that confirmed that the elongated hollows were indeed ancient human footprints.

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Aberystwyth: Driver on drugs hits lorry and causes ‘road chaos’

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A DRIVER high on drugs caused 15 miles of chaos as he approached Aberystwyth on the A44.

Brian Pitts hit an oncoming lorry and road signs as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

A car passenger filmed him because she was sure a serious accident was about to happen.

Pitts, aged 57, of Delmont Close, Tipton, west Midlands, admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs he had taken.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on June 16 last year Pitts had been driving his Rover MGZR, towing a trailer full of wooden fencing posts, towards Aberystwyth from his home.

Richard Brooks followed the car through Llangurig and became so concerned he telephoned the police while his wife Victoria filmed Pitts on her mobile.

The Rover collided with a 13 tonne lorry driven by Andrew Paxton but failed to stop.

Pitts failed to take a roundabout and hit road signs and an embankment but still carried on.

During the 15 miles, said Mr Pulling, oncoming traffic had to swerve off the carriageway to avoid a collision.

Several motorists telephoned the police to report what they were witnessing, he added.

Pitts came to a stop in the middle of the road and another motorist snatched the keys out of the ignition–and noticed that Pitts had been driving with a dog on his lap.

Mr Pulling said police officers could tell there was something wrong with Pitts, but an alcohol text showed he was below the limit.

“He was clearly unfit,” said Mr Pulling, although it was still unclear what drugs he had taken.

Pitts was taken to Aberystwyth police station and then to Bronglais hospital, where he appeared to recover after treatment. But he soon deteriorated and had to be taken back to the hospital.

Pitts developed pneumonia and had to be kept in for nine days.

His barrister, Tom Scapens, said when Pitts had been shown the mobile telephone footage he felt physically sick.

Judge T Mervyn Hughes jailed Pitts for 10 months and banned him from driving for four years.

He told him, “If you had not been stopped I am quite sure you would have caused serious injury if not death.”

Pitts was told to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.

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Motion to support the reduction of plastic use in Ceredigion approved

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In a Full Council meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council unanimously supported a motion to reduce the use of plastic and to support plastic reduction initiatives in Ceredigion.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong and was seconded by Councillor Gethin Davies. The motion calls on Ceredigion County Council to support the various ‘Plastic Free’ campaigns throughout the county by reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and to promote the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events.

Councillor Mark Strong said, “I’m delighted that the Council unanimously supported the motion. This is an important step for the Council but we must carry on to reduce plastic use. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic. Carrying out small acts such as buying milk from your local milkman supports the local economy but in turn also supports our environment by using reusable glass bottles.”

The motion also calls on the Council to encourage local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives as well as to support beach cleans and other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics under the “Plastic Free”, Caru Ceredigion, Tidy Towns or any similar initiative.

The motion was amended in the meeting to include the establishment of a Members’ Task and Finish group to support measures to reduce the Council’s use of plastic and to support initiatives in the county that reduce plastic use.

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Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures

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A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.

Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.

At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl

In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.

Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.

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