Essex Field Club on Facebook

Video about the Club Essex Field Club video

Lobesia littoralis
find out more... Lobesia littoralis 2 Copyright: Graham Ekins

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

Church Lane Gravel Cliff, STANWAY, Colchester District, TL945238, Notified Local Geological Site

show OS map  show polygon    

Site category: Thames (pre-diversion)

Site name: Church Lane Gravel Cliff

Grid reference: TL 945 238

Brief description of site:

The disused gravel pits south of Church Lane, Stanway have mostly been infilled and much of the land is now occupied by housing. However, a vertical cliff of Kesgrave Sands and Gravels (pre-diversion Thames gravel) is preserved south of Church Lane just west of the new Stanway Western Bypass. Although it is partly obscured by talus and vegetation, it could be easily restored. This cliff is a rare survival and is of educational and scientific interest.



The vertical cliff of Kesgrave Sands and Gravels (pre-diversion Thames gravel) that has been preserved south of Church Lane is a rare survival and is of educational and scientific interest.

Church Lane Gravel Pit (also called Stanway Pit) was working the Kesgrave Sands and Gravels (Kesgrave Formation) which were laid down during the early Ice Age by the River Thames when it flowed through north Essex and Suffolk and out across what is now the southern North Sea to become a tributary of the Rhine. The gravel is mostly of flint but also contains ‘exotic’ pebbles of rocks from far upstream, some of which are ignimbrite (a volcanic rock) from North Wales.

Rocks in minerals from the gravels at Stanway were first recorded by John Brown of Stanway (1780-1859). His 1835 paper in the Magazine of Natural History records minerals, rocks and fossils in gravel pits in Stanway and within a 15 mile radius of the village.


The Burton collection

The Stanway pits are notable because they were the source of a large number of rocks, minerals and fossils collected by the late Bob Burton (1923-2014) who cut and polished many of them in his workshop in nearby Warren Lane. Some of Bob's specimens from here have been donated to the Essex Field Club. The Burton collection shows how remarkably diverse is the suite of exotic rocks from these gravels. It includes Hertfordshire puddingstone, silicified fossil wood, silicified corals, rock crystal and flint and chalcedony geodes as well as numerous fossils in flint that were derived from the Chalk.

Church Lane Gravel Cliff in 2021. Photo: Brian Clough


if you have an image please upload it

Reference: Brown 1835, Lucy 1999, Lucy 2015.

Geology Site Map
A-Z Geological Site Index