Sands of Time Title
This site provides detailed information on the sand dunes of the Sefton coast in North West England
Home Page
Coastal Change
A History
  Physical Forces
Growth & Erosion
Future Change
Managing Change
Primary Succession
Model of Succession
The Strand Line
Embryo Dunes
Mobile Dunes
Blow Outs
Semi-fixed Dunes
Fixed Dunes
Dune Slacks
Dune Heath
Vegetation/Soil Data
Studying Succession
Pine Plantations
Project Objectives
Project Partners
Project Funding
Related Links
A History of Coastal Change

It is not known exactly when sand dunes began to form on the Sefton Coast, but an offshore sandbank or barrier beach did form around 8,400 years ago. This was well established by 6,000 years ago, and it is known that dunes started to form around 5,100 years ago.


In the distant past both humans and wildlife moved with, and adapted to, changes in the position of the coast. Between the end of the last glacial maximum (about 10,000 years ago) and Medieval times (about 600 years ago) the sea occasionally broke through the coastal dune barrier and flooded low-lying inland areas. These changes in the position of the coast are well recorded in layers of sediment, some of which are exposed on the beach around Formby Point.

Archaeologists investigating sediments exposed on Formby beach
Archaeologists investigating sediments
exposed on Formby beach (1993)

Before the beginning of the eighteenth century the form of the coast derived mainly from conditions offshore. Maps and charts demonstrate the effect of recent human influence. Dredging, river training and coastline hardening have imposed a pattern of accretion and erosion on the shoreline where previous conditions were much more variable.


Sefton animation
Legend for Shockwave map

In more recent times the dunes have been partially stabilised by maintaining their natural vegetation. Pine trees have been planted, further stabilising the dunes, and artificial sea defences have been built to protect the developed shorelines. The inland lakes and mosses behind the belt of coastal dunes have been drained and claimed for agricultural production.

For more information about this project email at Liverpool Hope University.
  Go to the site of Liverpool Hope University    

Liverpool Hope University worked with English Nature and the
Sefton Coast Partnership to implement the Sands of Time project.