Geology Site Account
Hackney Wick Pit (site of), HACKNEY, London Borough of Hackney, TQ373850, Historical site only
Historical site only
The Hackney Wick Pit was on the Hackney Marshes on the right bank of the River Lea and therefore just outside the old county of Essex but it is included here because it was one of the many pits in the Lea Valley examined by Essex geologist Samuel Hazzledine Warren.
It was permanently filled with water and in 1916 Warren described how masses of peat from beneath the gravel were often recovered by dredging. The peat was unlike anything belonging to the ‘Arctic Bed’ found in other pits nearby but clearly it was of some antiquity. Based on the seeds of flowering plants found in the peat it was concluded that it was laid down at the very end of the last glacial stage and at the start of the current Holocene period in a climate not that colder than the present day.
The dredge also brought up the peat-stained teeth and bones of mammoth and woolly rhinoceros which were understood to come from the base of the deposit. The workmen no doubt sold these to collectors and some of the bones may still be in private hands. An example of this was the 92 centimetre (3 foot) long femur of a mammoth from the Hackney Marshes, and most likely from this pit, that was sold at an antiques auction in Loughton in 2005 after being used by the owner as a doorstop for several years.
The site of the pit is now in the middle of the 2012 Olympic Park.
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Reference: Warren 1916 (p.172-173)
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