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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Geology Site Account

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Widdington Puddingstone, WIDDINGTON, Uttlesford District, TL53263226, Potential Local Geological Site

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Site name: Widdington Puddingstone

Grid reference: TL 5326 3226

Brief description of site: At the road junction north of the village of Widdington is a large boulder of Hertfordshire puddingstone 1.4 metres by 1 metre (4'x3') in size standing upright on the corner of a large wooded traffic island. As a result of recent road widening the boulder is now at risk from lorries turning this tight corner.

Summary of the geological interest

Hertfordshire puddingstone is a unique type of rock containing well-rounded flint pebbles bound together with quartz ‘cement’. It is named after its resemblance to a plum pudding and the fact that it can be found in Hertfordshire ‘in-situ’. The cement and pebbles are homogeneous and both equally hard, which makes puddingstone a very tough rock and very resistant to erosion. This particular puddingstone boulder is one of the best examples in North-West Essex.

Hertfordshire Puddingstone was formed around 55 million years ago when the climate of Britain was hot and a layer of sand beneath the surface of the ground became cemented with quartz. 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 boulders of puddingstone that are found in Essex most probably originated in Hertfordshire and were brought to Essex by the Thames when it flowed far to the north of its present course. However, the distribution and abundance of Hertfordshire puddingstone in some areas suggests that some occurrences may have a local Essex source.

The Widdington Puddingstone. Photo: © G.Lucy


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