TG2404 : View across the Caistor chalk pit

taken 1 year ago, near to Caistor st Edmund, Norfolk, Great Britain

View across the Caistor chalk pit
View across the Caistor chalk pit
This view was taken from Boudica's Way which leads past here. Boudica's Way is a 40-mile footpath that links Norwich and the market town of Diss on the Suffolk borders. The name Boudica (often spelled 'Boadicea', which was the Victorian version or 'Boudicca', used by Tacitus) derives from the Celtic 'bouda' which means victory. Boudica was the wife of the Icenian king Prasutagus. When he died his kingdom was annexed by the Romans, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped. In AD 60 or 61 Boudica led the Iceni, along with others, in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester) and the site of a temple to the former emperor Claudius. Boudica was defeated in the end and is reported by Tacitus to have poisoned herself. The site where she is buried is unknown.
Caistor Chalk Pit
Chalk is a white or grey limestone formed from the microscopic shells of planktonic organisms. In Norfolk, the chalk is over 460 metres thick in places, and the county has the greatest range of chalk strata of anywhere in Britain. It principally presents as a low, rolling plateau in West Norfolk and along the north Norfolk coast as well as near Norwich, where the rivers Yare and Wensum have exposed overlying beds by cutting through them.

The Caistor chalk pit > LinkExternal link near the South Norfolk village of Caistor St Edmund, about four kilometres south of Norwich, is the last remaining well-exposed inland section of part of the Beeston Chalk formation of the Upper Campanian 'Norwich Chalk' and it is also the last remaining inland section of any size in the Upper Campanian succession of the Transitional Province. It is rich in macrofossils and well-preserved microfaunas, and hence of great interest to paleontologists and geologists alike. For instance, belemnites > LinkExternal link collected here were important in establishing the scheme of local belemnite zones an sub-zones. Fossil hunters know the quarry as a particularly good source for fish remains which can be found in the lower beds. Echinoids > LinkExternal link and brachiopods as well as bivalves are also common, along with sponges from the flint spoil heaps. The pit is also well documented for its hollow flints > LinkExternal link which have been used in developing a model for the formation of flint.

The pit has been in commercial use for more than 70 years and still is a working quarry > LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link and currently owned by Needham Chalks (HAM) Ltd. Formerly exploited mainly for its thick layer of chalk > LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link which in the old days was dug by hand and transported by horse and cart and is used primarily as an agricultural fertiliser > LinkExternal link. The operations have since moved towards an area where the overlying sands and gravel beds are being quarried > LinkExternal link at the expense of the chalk. Chalk is however still extracted here, using disc harrows > LinkExternal link for the production of agricultural lime. Norwich Crag sands > LinkExternal link cover the Cretaceous chalk, where fossil mammal bones can often be found, forming a protective layer.

The chalk layer also contains flints > LinkExternal link of all sizes including very large round nodules referred to as paramoudras > LinkExternal link and also known as potstones, because they can be used as natural planters. Paramoudras are believed to have formed by precipitation of silica around vertical tubes or burrows in the chalk sediment. One of the best places to see paramoudras in abundance is West Runton beach at low tide > LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link. Flints were valued in prehistoric times for tool making and more recently for making gunflints and are to this day widely used in Norfolk as a building stone. Needham Chalks is the UKs largest producer of whole and knapped flints for the building trade.

My grateful thanks go to Russel Yeomans for his kind invitation to join members of the Yorkshire Geological Society > LinkExternal link on a guided tour of the Caistor quarry, which is not open to the public. It can however be seen from an elevated position by taking the footpath > LinkExternal link leading along its eastern edge.

For more detailed information read: LinkExternal link
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TG2404, 204 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Saturday, 5 August, 2017   (more nearby)
Saturday, 5 August, 2017
Geographical Context
Quarrying, Mining 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2405 0477 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:35.6707N 1:18.3945E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2430 0473
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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