Essex Field Club on Facebook

Video about the Club Essex Field Club video

Cryptocephalus rufipes
find out more... Cryptocephalus rufipes Copyright: P.R. Harvey

Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
registered charity
no 1113963
HLF Logo A-Z Page Index


Essex Field Club

When you shop at Amazon DonatesAmazon Donates

Visit Our Centre

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

Chingford reservoir excavations, CHINGFORD, London Borough of Waltham Forest, TQ365940, Historical site only

show OS map    

Site category: Glacial deposit or feature

Historical site only

Between 1909 and 1911 excavations in the Lea valley at Chingford by the Metropolitan Water Board for the construction of huge new reservoirs produced a number of fossils. The main excavations were in post-glacial (Holocene) alluvium which covers the floor of the valley and consisted of layers of clay, marl and peat, the clay being used to provide material for the banks of the reservoirs. Below this alluvium was an iron-stained gravel about 3 metres (10 feet) thick dating from the last glacial period (the Devensian) and resting on London Clay bedrock.

The peaty alluvium produced numerous mammal bones and deer antlers but the most spectacular fossil was a very fine skull of an aurochs or wild ox (Bos primigenius). Aurochs were ancestors of our present day domestic cattle but were much larger and with their large horns they must have been a formidable sight, especially in large herds. Aurochs were very common during the latter part of the Ice Age and feature prominently in the world-famous 17,000 year old cave paintings of Lascaux, France. The Chingford skull was donated by the Metropolitan Water Board to London’s Natural History Museum in 1911. Also found was a tooth of a mammoth which must have come from the underlying cold-climate gravel.

During the course of the works the water board hosted visits by members of the Geologists’ Association in 1909 and 1911 which were combined with visits to the famous gravel pits at Ponders End nearby. The written reports of the visits describe the vast scale of the reservoir excavations which involved diverting the River Lea and obliterating county boundaries.

One of the finest skulls of an aurochs ever found in Britain was discovered during construction of the Chingford reservoirs and donated to the Natural History Museum in London. The skull is 60 centimetres (2 feet) long and shows an indent in the middle of


if you have an image please upload it

Reference: Kennard 1909, Warren 1911, Woodward 1924 (p.9)

Geology Site Map
A-Z Geological Site Index