‘The peat is at least a metre deep and consists of more than one horizon, some of it woody and fibrous, other much finer. The peat beds can be seen to run back under the shingle bank and may continue under the Penllyn marshes to the east.’

Tywyn Coastal Protection Scheme Archaeological Assessment, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 2004


We reached the beach at first light, just before the dog walkers. The storms that ripped up the coast have exposed the Tywyn peat beds of which usually only a corner lie above sand. Now they are stretched down the beach like Roman ruins, bath house after bath house, haphazardly angled oblong pools of wind-rippled water.



There are deep wolf claw gouges in the peat – no, the marks are made by modern dogs, and yet – there’s something of a cave painting about them. At the waves edge a petrified tree stump digs its roots deep like a rotten molar. Another tree; toppled, tops a pool wall. There are peat cutters spade marks in the walls and twiggy bits and corky lumps mixed in 5000 years of clotted marly-black was-bog. Level with the derelict pillbox and just by where ‘MARK 1990’ was writ deep at the last exposure, are the prints in the peat like parallel drawings of birds in flight, of a WWII tank. 


Arranged quietly in the distance and looking very Celtic, the Aberdyfi dunes, hills, and a lone maritime pine lie lined up like whales blowing mist. We left the beach when the sky to the south was yellow and wet.