Sand-pit sections

Imagine yourself in a sand-pit in Stoke Newington in the 1860's. Around you are the four sides of the pit. The diagram shows three of these sides opened out. At the bottom are the horizontal strata neatly laid down by water. Above is an irregular mass of contorted drift. This is from the Ice Age.

The drift was not laid down by water, but by moving ice or frozen mud from the north. It has ploughed through the land and, in some cases, pushed underneath the Floor.


Mud of the contorted drift
A pocket of London Clay
Contorted drift
Palaeolithic sand and loam
Red sand and clay
Light sand and clay
Dark sand and clay
Red sand
Yellow sand
Red sand
Sand, almost white
Buff sand sometimes full of fossil shells of land and fresh water molluscs

These sands were the sandy margins of the old Thames

A Taplow gravels containing implements. The higher, Brown Hill gravel had been eroded away in this area a long time before.

Over long periods, the sea rose and fell. When it rose, the Thames and Lea valleys became marshy and flooded. Layers of material were deposited in the calm waters. Brickearth too was blown from the Continent and settled through the shallow water to form level deposits (layers B-M). In the Ice Ages, the glacier sheets pushed south, crushing everything in their paths. They stopped just north of Stamford Hill and large parts of the Palaeolithic floor are undamaged.

Besides the confusion caused by the drift, the cold caused other disturbances. On the edges of ice sheets, the cold penetrates deeply, shrinking and shattering the top few feet of soil. These periglacial (near a glacier) conditions are called crytourbation and have further split and distorted the section at 0.

The Upper Contorted Drift seals off all the relics of the Palaeolithic age. Man appears to have retreated in front of the advancing drift and cold. There is no evidence that Palaeolithic people ever returned.

Time Zones
Prehistoric Palaeolithic c.250-c. 8,500 BC
Modern man appears c 40,000BC
Stone Age Mesolithic
c. 8,500 - c. 4,000BC
c. 4,000 - c. 2,000BC
Bronze Age   c. 2,000 - c. 600BC
Iron Age c. 600 - c. AD 43
(Roman Conquest)
Roman Period c. AD 43 - AD 410
Saxon and Medieval c. AD 410 - AD 1540
The Palaeolithic Hackney Brook

Finds on Stoke Newington Common

Updated: October 13, 2011