Marros Sands Beach
The stumps of 4,000-year-old trees make an appearance every few years at Marros Sands, near Amroth, when low tides and rough seas scour away the mud and sand to reveal the petrified forest.
It is one of several beaches around the Pembrokeshire coast where this phenomenon appears, but Marros seems to hold pride of place for the clearest example as the stumps and roots of oak, alder and willow are better preserved here than anywhere else. For proof of this assertion one has only to look at photographs taken in 1976 when the petrified forest was more clearly defined than at any other time within living memory. Inevitably, other ancient objects have been found at Marros and further south towards Wiseman’s Bridge, including red deer antlers and the bones and skulls of wild oxen and other extinct species. Flint fragments have also been discovered, for along this shore before the sea rose there was a flint knapping ‘factory’ where Stone Age hunters and artisans fashioned their arrow heads, axe heads and other implements. When the shore was finally engulfed, these tool-makers retreated up the hill onto Marros Beacon, where there is a two-terraced site called Top Castle, a fortified position where the knapping continued. Nearby, in Teague’s Valley, the last wolf to be killed in Wales is said to have died in the 16th century.
Marros beach is rocky and muddy and not somewhere to swim, and in the past the local people dug slime here to mix with small coal to make culm for their domestic fires. Blue clay was also extracted to make bricks, particular fire bricks for the Grove Ironworks at Pleasant Valley, the remains of which are preserved as an interesing piece of industrial archaeology.
The ironworks did not have go far for its ore, for there were rich deposits in ‘The Patches’ under the cliffs between Wiseman’s Bridge and Amroth. The rugged and isolated beach at Marros became over the centuries the graveyard of many sailing ships, and there were ‘wreckers’ who lured unwary masters to their doom.
The last wreck was that of the Treviga, a Russian trading schooner bound for Cardiff from Trinidad with a cargo of pitch. It happened in 1923 at Morfabychan Beach, just round the eastern extremity of Marros Sands at Ragwen Point, the Master having decided to ride out the storm off Saundersfoot, after refusing an offer by the local pilot to bring him in to Tenby, as he did not wish to pay. He paid all right with the wreckage of his ship, although he, his wife and crew of seven were taken off by the Tenby Lifeboat.
Ancient Marros Church is said to have been used as a refuge from wolves by the people of the village, which was a thriving community, most of whose members earned their livelihood working in the quarries on Marros Mountain, where the stone came from to build the Prince Consort Memorial on Tenby’s Castle Hill.