Walking with dinosaurs

I’m a regular visitor to Storeton Woods along with Toby my Golden Retriever.  It is a pleasant area to walk throughout the changing seasons to look at the greenery and wildlife.  But it’s also an area that previous inhabitants of the earth strode around as well.

Storeton Woods have grown up on the site of a sandstone quarry that was present since the times of the Roman occupation. The quarries were up to 60m (200 feet) deep by the beginning of the 20th century but they were exhausted and filled in during the 1930s with spoil from the excavation from the first Mersey tunnel. The current woods were planted on the site.

The quarry was the site of the discovery of fossilised dinosaur footprints 20m (65 feet) down into the quarry in 1838. No bones or other material remains were discovered. As the prints resembled human handprints the creature was named from the Greek words, ‘chir’ for hand, and ‘therium’ for beast: chirotherium or cheirotherium.  The full species name was Cheirotherium Storetonensis to recognise the site of the discovery in Storeton.  Similar tracks were also found on Hilbre Island out in the River Dee estuary off West Kirby.  Examples of the footprints can be seen in ‘World Museum Liverpool’ in Liverpool, the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead and also in nearby Christ Church, on Kings Road in Higher Bebington.

From the footprints, scientists have extrapolated an image of the dinosaur and in the year 2000 a life-sized carving of a cheirotherium was made on a quarried wall of sandstone near to the Mount Road and Rest Hill Road junction.  I’ve included a drawing of what the Cheirothermium looked like which is contained on the Friends of Storeton Woods website.  It is by Dr Geoffrey Tresise who wrote an article entiled ‘Merseyside’s Dinosaur’ which was published in the February 1994 issue of the Friends’ ‘Newsleaf’ newsletter.  I’ve taken a photograph of the carving of the Cheirotherium but with the recent year’s wet weather the wall is going very green and the carving isn’t as distinct as it used to be.

Since the Friends of Storeton Woods purchased the woods in 1989 they have with the help and support of the Woodland Trust been working to conserve and protect the area for future generations to enjoy.  It is a mixed woodland a long with a wider varied vegetation and as the Friends state ‘a pocket of wildlife interest in the surrounding, increasingly built-up, landscape’.

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