Geology Site Account
Hunnables Gravel Pit, BRAINTREE, Braintree District, TL746228, Historical site only
Hunnable’s Gravel Pit, Braintree
Former gravel pit that yielded the fossil bones of mammoth and other Ice Age mammals, together with flint artefacts.
In the late nineteenth century the Rev. J.W.Kenworthy, Essex Field Club member and vicar of Braintree, found the bones of mammoth, horse and ox together with flint implements in a gravel pit on the flanks of the minor valley of Pods Brook (also known as Hoppit Brook) close to the point where it changes its name to the River Brain.
The pit, known as Hunnable’s Gravel Pit, was situated behind the factory of F.A.Hunnable and Son, sand and gravel merchants. Hunnable also worked another pit about 1 kilometre to the east behind his house in the London Road (TQ 752 227) which is now occupied by housing, but no fossils or flint implements are reported from there.
The Pods Brook/River Brain runs parallel to the River Blackwater but is separated from it by the high ground occupied by Braintree town centre. Over hundreds of thousands of years the rivers have cut down through the plateau of boulder clay and the underlying Kesgrave Sands and Gravels to expose the London Clay ‘bedrock’ in the valley bottoms. The valley sides have been affected by freezing and thawing during successive cold stages and are now covered by loam, re-sorted gravel and brickeath. It was in the brickearth of Hunnable’s Gravel Pit that Kenworthy apparently made the discoveries. Essex County Council’s Sites and Monuments Record states that in 1947 a tooth and tusk of an elephant was also found in this pit but no further details of these finds are known.
The site of Hunnable’s Gravel Pit is now a playing field with access from the new B1256 link road that runs alongside. The steep, grassed sides of the pit can still be seen but nothing of the geology is now visible.
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Reference: Dalton 1890 (p.79), French 1891 (p.212), Kenworthy 1899 (p.96), Wymer 1985 (p.249).
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