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Coleophora ibipennella
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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

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Five Bells Railway Cutting, LANGDON HILLS, Thurrock District, TQ70548575, Historical site only

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Site category: London Clay, Claygate or Bagshot Beds

Historical site only


The Essex Weekly News for 24th February 1888 reported the discovery of petrified trunks of trees 25 feet (8 metres) below the surface of the ground during construction of the railway between Tilbury and Pitsea. The trunks were clearly fossilised logs from the London Clay because they were described as resembling “heavy, solid lumps of stone” and were apparently marked all over with holes. Logs infested with holes made by the ship worm teredo are common in the London Clay of the Isle of Sheppey and show that the wood was once floating in a sub-tropical sea. This sea was in existence about 50 million years ago and deposited the London Clay across much of south east England.

What makes this discovery remarkable is the size of the trunks, one of which was described as “twelve feet long and eighteen inches in diameter” which makes them some of the largest ever found in the London Clay.

It is not known what became of these fossils although it is unlikely that the discoverers, having found out about their antiquity, would have reburied them. The exact site of the discovery is not precisely known but it was almost certainly the railway cutting running parallel with the B1420 south west of the Five Bells Interchange and very close to the border with Basildon District.


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Reference: Cole 1888b

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