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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Geology Site Account

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Red House and Stonehall Farm gravel pits (site of), REDBRIDGE, London Borough of Redbridge, TQ417885, Historical site only

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Gravel pits in the 19th century yielding Palaeolithic artifacts and fossils. Further excavations in the vicinity could yield further artifacts.


Description of sites

In the nineteenth century, what is now the borough of Redbridge was a peaceful, rural area with the Red Bridge carrying Redbridge Lane over the River Roding just upstream of Wanstead Park. North of the Red Bridge was the Red House and close by was a gravel pit known as Red House Pit which is notable for the discovery of five Palaeolithic flint hand-axes which are now in the Warren collection in the British Museum. The pit is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1868 and was situated at TQ 417 885 on the east side of Roding Lane South.

Also shown on the 1868 map are two gravel pits on land adjoining Stonehall Farm on the north side of Wanstead Lane (TQ 421 882) approximately where Evanston Gardens now is. The Stonehall Farm pits (also known as Stonehall Avenue pits) were even more productive, producing at least 18 hand-axes which are also in the British Museum.

The gravel yielding these stone tools is part of the Boyn Hill/Orsett Heath terrace of the Thames and the Roding and is about 400,000 years old (Marine Isotope Stages 12-10), although the patch of gravel at Stonehall Farm may be younger. The humans that made hand-axes were probably early Neanderthal hunters and these tools are the only evidence we have of their existence in Britain.

This whole area was transformed by the construction of the A12 Eastern Avenue in the 1920s and today there is no evidence on the ground of the former existence of these gravel pits.

The Red Bridge over the River Roding with the Red House beyond. The photograph was taken in 1896 by Alfred Wire, an amateur geologist and founder member of the Essex Field Club. Photo: Vestry House Museum (London Borough of Waltham Forest).


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Reference: Wymer 1968 (p.308), Wymer 1985 (p.293).

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