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Record details

BCC record ID:0473500000
Type of record:Find Spot
Summary:Fossilised animal bones dating from about 170,000 years ago excavated in chalk quarry.
Grid Reference:SP 9331 1445
Parish:

MARSWORTH, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire

Monument type(s)

Associated finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Lower Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic - 170000 BC to 10001 BC)

Public access information

Is the site accessible to the public?No
Is the site visible from a public viewpoint?Unclassified

Full description

Quantity of pleistocene bone collected from quarry after topsoil stripping by Mrs J Davis (Pitstone Local History Society) & Mr A Currant (British Museum) who cut a section to elucidate local stratigraphy (further details filed) (B1). Site preserved by agreement of quarry works and county council (B3).
Fossilised deposits in channel fills within Pitstone No3 (Marsworth) Quary have been the focus of scientific study since they were excavated in 1980-81. A lower channel some 35m wide has yielded over 11,000 mammal bones including mammoth, horse, brown bear, wolf, lion and northern vole as well as evidence of beetles, molluscs and pollen within an organic mud horizon. This suggests a spring-fed marshy grassland environment. An age of 140-170,000 years was obtained by uranium dating of the lower channel deposits. Hence, the remains may represent the earliest occurrence of wooly mammoth in the UK. The upper channel has proved to contain many examples of the remains of hippopotamus, rhinoceros and giant deer, and suggests a temperate woodland environment. The inventory for the site archive and collection at Buckinghamshire County Museum includes 274 bones and teeth of wooly mammoth; 52 bones and teeth ascribed to elephant; 8 teeth of straight tusked elephant; 130 bones of ox or bovid species; 3 bison bones; 40 bones and teeth of lion; 61 of wolf; 5 of fox; 37 bear; and 340 bones and teeth of horse (B4).
The SSSI notifcation describes the importance of the site as being that a number of channels have been cut in the slope desposits and then filled with water-lain sediments. Three channels yielding significant faunal and/or floral assemblages have been recognised the oldest representing a new interglacial period between the established Hoxnian and Ispwichian interglacial. The site is thought to be one of the most important for the British Pleistocene. The area notified as SSSI lies along the railway line on the eastern side of the site and under the line of the conveyor (B5).

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: PARISH D A & FARLEY M E 1978-1980 (SEE NOTES ETC FILED).
<2>Bibliographic reference: PARISH D A MARCH 1980 (SEE NOTE FILED).
<3>Unpublished document: Various. 1984. Pers comm various re College Farm quarry Marsworth.
<4>Unpublished document: Simon Timberlake. 1999. Statement on the significance and current state of the fossil collection from Pitstone Quarry No 3.
<5>Scheduling record: English Nature. 1988. SSSI citation for Pitstone Quarry No 2 (Marsworth).

Associated excavations and fieldwork

  • EBC10225:
  • EBC16183: Excavation of fossilised deposits at Pitstone No 3 (Marsworth) quarry

Related monuments

Images

Mammoth tusk and tooth from Pitstone quarry 3 in Marsworth  © Buckinghamshire County CouncilMammoth tusk and tooth from Pitstone quarry 3 in Marsworth  © Buckinghamshire County Council

Reports

No image caption available  © Buckinghamshire County Council

No image caption available © Buckinghamshire County Council