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Long ago, a large part of north-western Europe, particularly Ireland and Great Britain, were covered in bogs. These soggy wetlands, composed of partially decomposed remains of dead plants, formed at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. At this time, much of north-western Europe was covered by shallow lakes left behind by the melting glaciers. Poor drainage and build up of dead plants created layer upon layer of peat. Researchers estimate that nearly one-fifth of Ireland was covered by bogs.

In order to cross these marshy lands, the ancient people built raised wooden roads or trackways. These wooden trackways, unique to Europe, were built from the Neolithic times until the middle ages. Originally they were used for foot traffic, but once wheeled carts were invented and introduced into the north of Europe they became a necessity. Eventually, the trackways deteriorated and fell into the bogs, where the unique chemical structure of the bog soil and the lack of oxygen preserved these ancient structures to this date.

corlea-trackway-1

Photo credit: Kevin King/Wikimedia

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