Approximately 30-50 million years ago in the ancient pine forests that covered Northern Europe the chill Arctic wind began to herald the Ice Age that was to follow many millions of years later.
The map of the world looked very different from how it is today. The United Kingdom was still part of the Great Continental Shelf and it was still some time before huge glaciers would forge their way southwards to shape the contours and landscape of what we know as modern Europe.
The trees growing in these huge forests were mainly of the pine variety, although other species also grew there. These giant trees can be compared to the Giant Redwoods of North America and they produced copious quantities of sap, which would run down the trees through the furrows in the bark, often trapping insects that became embedded in the sticky solution.
Insects as old as 50 million years can be found perfectly preserved in Amber. Not only were insects trapped within the Amber but also flora from the forest floor. As the resin descended down the tree slowly it built up layer after layer collecting seeds, twigs, leaves etc.
When the Ice Age came, the resin became trapped within the ice and hardened under the extreme pressure of the ice. The great glaciers began their unstoppable progress taking not only huge boulders with them, but also the Amber that had collected over millions of years. Like the boulders, the Amber was deposited a long way away from its original source.
It is believed that this is how Amber came to be deposited on the sea bed off the coastline from Norfolk around to Suffolk, having been deposited by glaciers after the ice melted. If you want to search for Amber wait until after a heavy winter storm (usually between October and February) and after a high tide; Amber will float just beneath the surface of the sea and in strong, stormy weather a piece of Amber might be tossed in a wave onto the beach.
Sometimes fishermen will trawl pieces of Amber in their nets.
Amber sources are not limited to Northern Europe, but can be found in various places throughout the world. It can also be found as a result of ancient trade routes from the Baltic to Rome and the Middle East and in the Roman Empire Amber was highly valued.