Red Deer antlers discovered in Wales date back nearly 4,000 years

Ian Harvey
Featured image

Ever wonder what the world looked like thousands of years ago? Just think: deserts used to be rich with green, and some bodies of water didn’t exist or perhaps they were even bigger than what we know today.

About two years ago, a couple walking on a beach in Wales stumbled across a deer skull. They had it tested because it appeared much larger than a regular deer; it turns out that the skull was of a red deer and was dated as 4,000 years old.

The beach the couple found the skull and antlers on had once been an ancient forest and is now filled with water. The forest had been uncovered by storms, resulting in beach walkers finding some amazing ancient features. The skull was found lying in the sand at a beach in Borth, Ceredigion, Mid-Wales. This area in particular has given many archaeologists secrets from the past to examine.


After further analysis, the antlers measured out to be about four feet wide. They are believed to have belonged to a giant stag which roamed that forest during the Bronze Age. Over time, the forest became bare after strong tides pushed their way onto the Cardigan Bay coastline. Back in 2014, storms once again revealed oak stumps that were about shin-high, along with yew trees and other treasures. Peat had also been found in the area before it was washed away by the rain and waves from the shore.

As the two walkers made their way down the beach, they found something cutting through a channel at the site of where the fossil forest used to be. These were the antlers of the adult, large red deer covered by the incoming tide. Thankfully, scientists were able to discover their exact location as photos were taken at the time of discovery. The experts were then able to lift the antlers carefully from the seabed where they had been covered by a few inches of water.

The antlers are still being studied by an archaeological research team at the University of Wales-Trinity St. David’s in Lampeter. The lead archaeologist, Dr. Martin Bates, said that this is a wonderful discovery. It helps the researchers see what kind of wildlife lived there and the makeup of the area that had been rich forest before being covered with water.


After examining the peat, Bates said that it dates to about 6,000 to 4,000 years ago. This would have been right around the time the last hunter-gatherers were in the area, as well as the earliest farmers in Britain. Bates expressed that he was happy when the find was identified instead of being left unreported or taken as a beach prize. This allows the researchers to study the remains, instead of the items sitting in someone’s home and lost to the entire world.

Continue to page 2