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Essex Field Club
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Essex Field Club

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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

Dovercourt Red Crag outliers, DOVERCOURT, Tendring District, TM248309, General geological site

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Site category: Red Crag


Site of geological interest with potential for geological education and research. The high ground at Dovercourt is capped with outliers of shelly Red Crag. The area is of also of importance in the history of geology. Any excavations in the area should be recorded.


Site description

The patch, or outlier, of Red Crag at Little Oakley extends north-east along a ridge of high ground towards Upper Dovercourt where the characteristic red sand and fossil shells can be seen in the cultivated fields in the vicinity of South Hall Farm. In the nineteenth century it was also visible in several roadside sections. This outlier is one of the few fragments of a once continuous deposit of Red Crag across north Essex that has been almost entirely destroyed by erosion. The Red Crag in this part of Essex consists of loose sand with abundant fossil shells and the fossils of other marine animals that lived in the Red Crag Sea that existed about 2 million years ago.

A further patch of Red Crag, about one kilometre long, caps the hill overlooking Mill Bay and extends beneath Fronks Road as far as the coast. It was first exposed in the floor of a gravel pit, which is almost certainly the pit marked on the 1876 Ordnance Survey map in a field south of the main road at TM 248 309. This whole area has now been redeveloped. In the nineteenth century Red Crag shells and bones could also be found on the top of the cliff ‘near the hotel’ but this was destroyed by cliff falls and what is left is now obscured.

A 12 centimetre (5 inch) fossil tooth of the giant shark Carcharadon megalodon from Dovercourt. Part of the collection of Essex geologist Samuel Hazzledine Warren that was donated to the Natural History Museum on his death in 1958. Photo © G. Lucy.


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Reference: Whitaker 1877 (p.14), Dalton 1900 (p.8), Harmer 1900 (p. 718).

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