HomeMore about the FootprintsFinding the FootprintsPictures - Human FootprintsPictures - Animal FootprintsThe AurochsFoot NoteReferences and ReadingContact Me

Home page for the Formby Footprints

Pat, Gordon and Kim the dog

Welcome to my Web Site devoted to the ‘Formby Footprints’, which I have been researching since 1989.

What are the Formby Footprints?  From about 1950 onwards, local people had sometimes noticed what looked like cattle hoofprints in patches of firm mud which appeared occasionally along the foreshore of Formby Point.

What is their origin?  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.  But now coastal erosion is uncovering our prehistoric landscape and revealing those ancient imprints.

Patricia on the beach

And how did I become involved?  I had first heard of these mysterious cattle hoofprints in 1985, but I could never find them on my occasional visits to the beach.  Then, in 1988, along came Kim, a bedraggled puppy found on the streets of Liverpool.  Dog-walking now took me along the Point almost every day; in March 1989 I finally saw these prints for myself.

I soon realised that although local people, museums and universities knew of these animal footprints, they actually knew little about them.  But the prints were ephemeral - as each tide exposed them, the next could destroy them, unrecorded!  The only solution would be to research them myself. 

This would not have been possible without my understanding, patient and supportive wife, Patricia - once described as my ‘Master Plaster Caster’.  Sadly, after a long, devastating struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, my beautiful, treasured wife for over fifty years passed away in February 2014, and I dedicate this site to her memory.

A brief account of my twenty-five years’ research was recently published in a booklet:  "The Lost World of Formby Point: Footprints on the Prehistoric Landscape, 5000 BC to 100 BC", Gordon Roberts, ISBN 978-0-9508155-2-7, published by The Alt Press for the Formby Civic Society.  It is available from:
- The Olde Bookshop, 54 Brows Lane, Formby, Liverpool, L37 4ED, tel: 01704 874048, e-mail: theoldebookshop@hotmail.co.uk;
- Formby Books, 5 The Cloisters, Halsall Lane, Formby, Liverpool, L37 3PX.
 
The booklet will help visitors to Formby Point relate to the prehistoric landscape of our ancestors and maybe encourage them to carry out some research of their own.

Gordon Roberts

Acknowledgements

It is extremely difficult for me to acknowledge by name every one of those who have given me their friendly encouragement and practical support since 1989. However, I would particularly like to thank:
  • The staff of the Formby Point National Trust Property (and especially Andrew Brockbank, the present Countryside Manager, but also the previous site manager Martyn Garbett, and former Mercia Region Field Archaeologist Dr Jeremy Milln);
  • Members of the Sefton Coast & Countryside Service in its past and present forms (and especially John Houston and Dave McAleavy, as well as Paul Rooney, now at Liverpool Hope University);
  • Professor Michael Day of the Natural History Museum, London;
  • Ron Cowell, Dr Mark Adams and Dr Rob Philpott of the Museum of Liverpool;
  • Tom Clare of Liverpool John Moores University;
  • Dr Sue Stallibrass, (now) English Heritage Science Advisor for North West England.

Formby Footprints