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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

Geology Site Account

A-Z Geological Site Index

Bordeaux Pit, LITTLE CHESTERFORD , Uttlesford District, TL513413, General geological site

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Site category: Glacial deposit or feature

Site name: Bordeaux Pit

Grid reference: TL 513 413

Brief description of site:

The former Bordeaux Pit, just south of Little Chesterford, is now a fishing lake but when it was working it yielded flint tools in association with the bones of mammoth and woolly rhinoceros. Any further excavations on this site could yield further fossils and artefacts.



In Bordeaux Pit, a flooded gravel pit just south of Little Chesterford, flint tools have been found in association with the bones of mammoth and woolly rhinoceros. The bones and flints were found in the early years of the twentieth century in an iron-stained gravel at the base of the pit. They cannot be accurately dated but there is no doubt that the tools were made by Neanderthal hunters at least 80,000 years ago. A worn flint hand axe, which is probably much older, was also found in the pit and this can now be seen in Saffron Walden Museum. The presence of mammoth and woolly rhinoceros, and certain species of freshwater shells in the gravel, indicate a cold climate.

A note in the Essex Naturalist in 1921 states that “in the last two years” a pelvis of an adult mammoth was obtained from the Bordeaux Pit but it was in too fragile a state to be preserved. It states that a photograph was taken of the specimen in situ. The note also states that in the Spring of 1921 several mammoth teeth and fragments of a tusk were also found (Morris 1921).

In 1909 an account was published of the far-travelled glacial erratic boulders of the Cambridge district and it lists 22 specimens from the Chesterford area, including three rock types of Scandinavian origin. This includes the classic rhomb-porphyry which only occurs in the Oslo district of Norway. The specimens were collected from surface field walking and from gravel pits operating at the time, including Bordeaux Pit (Rastall and Romanes 1909).

Sparks (1955) provides a good description of the site and includes a plan of the pit as it was in 1952 showing the spot where the mammoth remains were found.

The pit is now a fishing lake.

Bordeaux Pit in 1930. The boulders in the foreground are glacial erratics from the lower part of the Gravel Bed and are of quartzite, igneous and other rocks derived from as far away as Scandinavia. Photo © British Geological Survey (P205249).


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Reference: Rastall and Romanes 1909, Osborne White 1932 (p.90-92), McKenny Hughes 1916 (p.6), Morris 1921, Sparks 1955, Wymer 1985 (p.188), Whitaker et al. 1878 (p.71).

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