Worm’s Head, Gower
Anyone walking to Worm’s Head and back has to check the tide times to avoid being stranded on the semi-island, but thousands of years ago the route was always high and dry!
As the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age, Gower was c.100 metres higher above the sea than it is now. Worm’s Head was then a hill on a wide plain where animals such as woolly mammoth, wolf, hyena and rhinoceros roamed. Human remains from c.8,800 years ago have been recovered from a cave on Worm’s Head.
Humans built a hillfort on the southern slope, probably during the Iron Age (when Worm’s Head had already become a semi-island). Various defensive walls are still visible. No walls were built on the north side because the steep cliffs provided a natural defence.
The photo shows a two-piece stone mould for making metal items which was found at Worm’s Head. It’s thought to be either late prehistoric or medieval.
Worm’s Head consists of Carboniferous limestone, with several caves in the westernmost part. At the back of one cave is a blow hole, where air pressure caused by waves surging into the cave has eroded a passage to the ground above. If you sit by the hole, you’ll hear the waves below and feel the movement of air – and perhaps imagine this as the nostril of the serpent the semi-island is named after!
An earlier cave was eventually eroded right through to the other side of the semi-island. The roof of the cave has mostly collapsed but the surviving section forms a natural bridge between the land each side.
Worm’s Head has fascinated visitors for many generations. In Victorian times a row of cottages at Rhossili became seaside lodgings for visitors, and later the Worm’s Head Hotel.
With thanks to Museum Wales
Website of Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty