Ancient footprints at Formby

The peat and clay beds at Formby have an interesting story. Coastal erosion in the form of storms regularly expose new layers revealing footprints of humans and animals including red deer, aurochs, wolves, oystercatchers and common cranes.

About 7500 years ago a series of sand bars or barrier islands developed along the coast off Formby Point, resulting in an intertidal lagoon between them and the shore.  For 3000 years, animals, birds and people left their tracks along the muddy shoreline. Some were baked hard by the sun, each tide covering them with a thin layer of sand and silt.  Then about 4500 years ago the shoreline moved westwards, sealing in everything. (dedicated website)

The prints are quickly worn away and so researchers, including my father as a volunteer, have to work fast to record them. The study has found that most prints were made by children with a smaller number of women and relatively few adult males. The adult males were often found in the same areas as red deer – presumably hunting them – while women and children may have been on the mudflats collecting shells or looking for nesting birds. See video 6,000 year old footprints in the sand.


Excellent selection of wildlife articles on the Sefton coast