Health and Safety

Visiting and Intertidal Safety

The Severn Estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world, 14.8m at Avonmouth. This gives rise to a post glacial sediment sequence of 10-15m which is responsible for the exceptional preservation of archaeological sites. Behind the seawall many sites are buried within the farmland and industrial landscapes of the Levels. To seaward of the seawall many sites are exposed by erosion in the intertidal area of the foreshore. Sites are generally only exposed at low tide. Tides can advance very rapidly over the intertidal zone. The intertidal zone contains deep mud and quicksand in places. It is not a safe place for those who are not familiar with the tides and environments of the estuary.

The estuary also has a high conservation status particularly on account of the bird populations which it supports. For reasons of safety, wildlife conservation and because the archaeological sites are very fragile and easily damaged, visitors should not venture into the intertidal zone.

Image 1: Excavations at Goldcliff in 1991. Field visits are from time to time arranged to excavation sites.

This website contains details of sites such as Goldcliff, Brean Down and Redwick where the nature of the archaeological sites can be appreciated from a walk along the seawall. Other sites which can be visited on dryland are included as well as nature reserves (Gwent Levels Wetland Reserve, Magor Marsh Nature Reserve and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve) where it is possible to appreciate the past environments of the estuary. This also contains information on sites where there are reconstructions of prehistoric buildings like those which existed in the estuary (Peat Moors Centre, Somerset and St Fagans Open Air Museum). From time to time the Severn Estuary Levels Research Committee organises conducted visits to the intertidal zone with experienced guides; for details of forthcoming visits see the Future events part of this website.

Image 2: An SELRC field excursion to Redwick church and intertidal sites. Photo M. Bell.