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Geology Site Account


Radwinter Road Chalk Quarry, SAFFRON WALDEN, Uttlesford District, TL55373844, Potential Local Geological Site

 
 
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Site name: Radwinter Road Chalk Quarry. On the north side of Radwinter Road, Saffron Walden (just east of Tesco supermarket).

Grid reference: TL 5537 3844

Brief description of site:

The disused chalk quarry on Radwinter Road has a fine exposure of Upper Chalk. The site is in use as a fuel storage depot but the Chalk face can be seen from the pavement on Radwinter Road. Landowner’s permission is required for access.

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Details

Chalk is a special type of limestone formed on the floor of a tropical sea about 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. The Chalk Sea is thought to have covered most of northern Europe, the purity of the chalk being evidence that coastlines were then far away and sea level was very high. At this time the European continent had not yet separated from North America. Chalk underlies the whole of the Saffron Walden area but exposures are very rare.

The cliff face at the Radwinter Road Quarry appears to be in the Micraster coranguinum zone of the Upper Chalk. The Chalk is about 200 metres (nearly 700 feet) thick and so this cliff represents a very small part of the total thickness of Chalk beneath our feet.

In 1904 it was reported that the following fossils had been obtained here by the workmen (Jukes-Brown 1904):

Coscinopora quincuncialis (sponge), Parasmilia centralis (coral), Bourgueticrinus ellipticus (crinoid), Cidaris sceptrifera (echinoid), Actinocamax? (belemnite), Scapanorhynchus rhaphiodon (shark’s tooth)

The quarry is also referred to in the Geological Survey Memoir for the Saffron Walden district (Osborne White 1932), which reports the occurrence in the quarry of stout pieces of the bivalve shell Inoceramus in profusion. The survey memoir also states that by then (1932) the quarry was disused.

Disused chalk quarries in north-west Essex are very rare and this small quarry is a fine example. It is of scientific importance. It is also of historical importance as an example of a long-extinct industry.



The Radwinter Road Chalk Quarry. View from the pavement of Radwinter Road. Photo: G.Lucy

 

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Reference: Jukes-Browne 1904 (p.239), Osborne White 1932 (p.41-42).

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