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Now midway through the supercontinent cycle, it has eroded so only the stumps of the mountain plateau remain.

It happened so long ago that it’s hard to retrieve enough paleomagnetic or paleogeographic data to determine where on the planet the land that became the Forest of Dean was originally formed, by magma from the Earth’s mantle (right now, unbeknownst to us, the Earth could be adding extra layers 40km below us), but it’s likely to have been in the middle of an ocean, close to the South Pole.

It’s likely that the temperature will be about the same as now, perhaps even warmer, as the ice age will be long over.

It is this plateau existence that gave the Forest of Dean such an independent spirit, and the layers of history way before humanity which produced the minerals and fossil fuels that gave populations their livelihoods.

These days, while sinkholes are not so rare, the chances of volcanic eruption or major earthquakes round these parts are pretty slim (there were 25 earthquakes with a sizeable magnitude of 4.5 to 6.1 in Britain during the 20 century) – that is, unless by human endeavour such as hydraulic fracturing, we provoke the planet into violent action.

The resulting melting glaciers (although the ice sheet didn’t cover the Dean, it came close, and the land would have been severely affected by the rapid melting of mile-thick ice) scalped and washed away all traces of 300 million years of earth history in the Dean and uplifted the land again.

Scotland is still rising after the weight of the ice was lifted off its back (while we and the south of England are sinking a millimetre or so per year).

Scientist Alan Guth, the proponent of the cosmic inflationary theory, calls that void from which the universe which we know of emerged as a false vacuum: false in that the vacuum was temporary, and vacuum meaning a state of the lowest possible energy density (but crucially above zero).

So, according to Guth’s theory, at first, there was nothing. The apparent nothingness decayed because it contained a miniscule amount of energy.

FOREWORD I wrote this a while ago, before we realised that the rocks that lie underneath us in the Forest of Dean are of interest to oil and gas companies. IF we were to condense the history of the planet into a single day, humans would enter it at the very last few seconds.

I am still seeking decent and exclusive illustrations… It is largely through our destructive social construct that the planet is experiencing the latest wave of mass species extinctions.

Since then we have mostly been on a north-easterly trajectory.

In another 250 million years the land will be close to the North Pole, on the edge of the next supercontinent.

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