21st December 2004


The discovery of human and animal footprints found at Formby Point has unearthed clues to the lives of ancient man ? just one of the subjects discussed when experts gathered at Edge Hill?s Ormskirk Campus for the fifth annual geography conference Coasts at the Edge.

Students, lecturers and representatives from the National Trust, the RSBP, Sefton Council, the National Museums and Galleries of Merseyside and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory met to explore how people interact with the coastal zone in the region.

Gordon Roberts of the National Trust presented plaster casts of human and animal footprints from Formby Point believed to be 5,000 years old. As the coastline erodes, the prints, once covered by sand dunes, are becoming visible. Mr Roberts has spent the last 15 years photographing, measuring and mapping the footprints, as well as taking casts, finding evidence of family activity including prints of children playing, as well as a young pregnant woman.

Annie Worsley is senior lecturer in Physical Geography, she said: “Mr Roberts? work has led to the unfolding of the story of how people have been using our coastline for thousands of years for hunting, fishing, gathering of foodstuffs and traversing the coastal zone. My part in the work has been to help him reconstruct the local environment through a forensic examination of the sediments and organic remains held within the deposits, discovering material such as charcoal, pollen, spores, roots and leaves.”

The conference provided the opportunity for third year degree students to gain valuable experience presenting their final year projects, based on topics ranging from conservation and the Sefton Coastal Partnership, to studies of the salt marshes at Marshside

Annie Worsley: “The conference provides the perfect platform for presenting geographical findings to a range of experts from north west organisations as well as those from other universities such Wolverhampton and Liverpool.”
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