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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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Fossil mammals from Prittlewell, PRITTLEWELL, Southend District, TQ874876, Historical site only

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Site category: Interglacial deposit

Temporary exposures of fossiliferous deposits. Further excavations in the vicinity could yield further fossils.


Description of sites and fossils

A number of Ice Age fossil mammals have been found in Prittlewell over the years, usually as a result of road excavations, and these can be seen in Southend Museum. A notable find was two sections of a mammoth tusk that came to light during sewer excavations in 1924 near Cuckoo Corner at the north end of Priory Park (TQ 874 876) and reported in the Southend Standard of 7th February 1924.

Most unusual of all is the molar tooth of a mastodon in Southend Central Museum that was claimed to have been found in a 130 centimetre (6 foot) deep pipe ditch excavation in gravels on Hobleythick Lane (TQ 869 875) west of Prittlewell Priory. Mastodons were the ancestors of mammoths and modern elephants whose fossilised teeth and bones have been found in the Red Crag and Norwich Crag of East Anglia but became extinct in Britain over a million years ago (the name ‘mastodon’, literally meaning ‘breast tooth’, is derived from the distinctive hemispherical cusps of the molars). Its occurrence in Southend, in Thames terrace gravels only a few hundred thousand years old, is almost certainly a mistake, probably due to the fossil being incorrectly labelled by the original collector. Where it actually did come from may never be known.


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Reference: Wymer 1985 (p.327), Gruhn et al 1974 (p.60).

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