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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Geology Site Account

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Channels Puddingstone, LITTLE WALTHAM, Chelmsford District, TL72381118, Potential Local Geological Site

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Site name: Channels Puddingstone

Grid reference: TL 7238 1118

Brief description of site:

By the entrance to Channels Golf Club in Belsteads Farm Lane, Little Waltham is a large boulder of Hertfordshire puddingstone on a mound of grass by the roadside. It is one of the largest puddingstone boulders in Essex, measuring 2.1 metres long by 1.2 metres high by 0.4 metres in thickness. It is looked after splendidly by the landowner and surrounded by attractive bedding plants in the Summer.

This boulder was found in one of the local gravel pits, all of which have now been restored and put to other uses. The boulder is from the Kesgrave sands and Gravels which were laid down by the River Thames when it flowed through central Essex over 500,000 years ago. It most likely originates in Hertfordshire and was carried here by the former Thames, which was then a very large river. However, the condition and distribution of puddingstone in Essex indicates that there may once have been a more local source.

Close by is another puddingstone boulder (90cm x 70cm x 30cm), placed in an upright position and provided with a plaque commemorating the restoration of a nearby gravel pit. By the golf club car park is a large sarsen stone (180cm x 100cm x 60cm). Others can be seen by the side of the road nearby.

Note: The large boulder of metamorphic rock nearby is not thought to be of local origin.



Hertfordshire Puddingstone was formed around 55 million years ago when the climate of Britain was hot and a layer of pebbles beneath the surface of the ground became cemented with quartz. They are thus very resistant to erosion and have survived the rigours of the Ice Age. They originated in Hertfordshire, hence the name, and were probably carried to Essex by the River Thames when it flowed north of its present course. However, the distribution and abundance of Hertfordshire puddingstone in parts of Essex suggests that some occurrences may have a local Essex source.

The formation of silcretes (which includes sarsens and puddingstones) has been the subject of recent scientific debate. Research has compared the conditions under which sarsens and puddingstones may have been formed with the present day climate in the Kalahari Desert and parts of Australia.

The largest boulder of Hertfordshire Puddingstone at the entrance to Channels Golf Club. Photo: G.Lucy


Hertfordshire puddingstone at Channels Golf Club
Hertfordshire puddingstone at Channels Golf Club

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