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Sheering Hall Farm Boulders, PANFIELD, Braintree district, TL736268, General geological site

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Site category: Boulders - sarsen

Site name: Sheering Hall Farm Boulders

Grid reference: TL 736268

Brief description of site:

Two very rounded igneous (?) erratic boulders (the largest 130cm x 50cm x 50cm) and two sarsen stones (the largest 70cm x 25cm x 25cm) can be seen by the entrance to Sheering Hall Farm. If the largest boulders are igneous, and if they are natural erratic boulders, they are very fine examples of an unusual rock type - probably originating in Scotland and brought to Essex by the ice sheet.

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Origin of Sarsen stones

Sarsens are extremely hard boulders of sandstone formed around 55 million years ago when the climate of Britain was hot and a layer of sand beneath the surface of the ground became cemented with quartz. They are thus very resistant to erosion and have survived the rigours of the Ice Age. They originated on the chalk downland north and west of Essex and were carried here by rivers and glaciers. After retreat of the ice they became concentrated in river valleys.

The formation of silcretes (which includes sarsens and puddingstones) has been the subject of recent scientific debate. Research has compared the conditions under which sarsens and puddingstones may have been formed with the present day climate in the Kalahari Desert and parts of Australia.



One of the igneous (?) boulders at Sheering Hall Farm. (Photo: G. Lucy)

 

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Reference: Lucy 2003a

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