Page images

said gravel pit, at the depth of about seven feet, in places which never before had been opened, the strata lying in their natural order; froin whence we infer, that the animals to which these rclics did belong, were living before the fountains of the great deep were broken up, when the whole earth and its inhabitants perished by water.

We find nothing remarkable in our progress from this place, till we come to a gravel pit, opened for the benefit of the turnpike, on the north side of the parish of Desborough, where, at the depth of about two feet, were discovered several intire human skeletons, with several amber and glass beads lying near the breast bones of one of them; as likewise one iron ring, with several brass clasps, which, we suppose, connected the garments in which the deceased had been buried. In the same pit were found two urns,

with bones and ashes in them.

In a' gravel pit lately opened, near a place called the hermitage, at the depth of about 14 feet, we found a piece of petrified wood resembling oak, about 10 inches long, and 6 wide, the strata also lying in their natural order.

In the gravel pit on the north east side of little Bowden field, near the river Weiland, we found several fragments of urns, with four or five pieces of copper coin not legible; as also some little bits of brass of an uncommon form, used, we suppose, about the garments of the deceased.

Many of the aforementioned antiquities are now in the hands of Mr. M. Day, late surveyor of the aforesaid turnpike road.

We have been the more inclined to give this short account of the aforementioned antiquities, discovered in or near the turnpike road leading from Thrapston to Market Harborough, because, we imagine, the like occasion will not again be given for such discoveries in that part of our kingdom.

Yours, &c.

A. B.

1757, Jan.

XXIII. Places in England where Natural Curiosities abound.


may be of use to many of your ingenious readers, who have occasion to travel during the ensuing summer, to be informed where natural curiosities are to be found; I have therefore pointed out some remarkable places where curious and rire fossils abound; and I doubt not but some who shall examine them will favour the public, by your means, with accounts of their discoveries.

HORDEL Clift, in the parish of Hordel, in Hampshire, is situated

upon the sea coast between Lymington and Christchurch.

This Clift, is in perpendicular height about fifty yards from the sea, at high water mark, and extends about a inile and a half along sliore; it is composed chiefly of red gravel, to about 18 or 20 yards below the surface, but amongst the gravel very few shells, or remains of marine bodies are to be found.

In niany parts of this Cliff there are large veins, or rather masses, of a mouldring soft blue clay, through which land springs are continually trickling down, which by degrees loosen the clay, and cause it to slide away


great beds, one below another, and perhaps the frosts may not a little contribute to produce this effect, So that the surface has in a few years been greatly worn away.

When this fall of the Clift happens, then there is found perhaps the greatest variety both of the turbinated and bivalve shells, that ever were met with in any one place in the world, in their original state, and have suffered no change for innumerable ages past; this so remarkable a circumstance may be daily verified by inspecting the cabinets of the curious.

Many of these shells are the natural inhabitants of very distant regions, and some of them entirely unknown, either in their natural or fossil state.

Towards the bottom of this clift there are frequently found large nodules of a hard reddish iron stone, or marble, being no other than an intire mass of shells, with which the church and other edifices are built.

Atherton Clifts are situated on the back of the Isle of Wight, about five miles from Newport. At the bottom of these cliffs, on the beach, are found in great abundance, weighty pyritical substances seemingly moulded in varieties of beautiful shells.

Sodbury, in Gloncestershire, distant from Bristol eleven, from Bath fourteen miles. There is, to appearance, as great a variety of natural bodies, within the compass of four miles round this town, as can be found in any one spot of that extent in England. On the descent of a steep stony bill, about a mile eastward from the town, the banks on each side are full of Belemnites of very different kinds, Nautilites of the ribbed sort, and cthers. At the entrance of the town, a little south of the road, there is a large quarry of hard blue stone, being composed of masses of bivalve shells.

Near Ipswich, in Suffolk, eight miles from the sea, are many large pits of shells, called Graigs in that country, and some large veins of shells, but all found on the sides of hills.

Some pits are thirty feet deep, containing a variety of bivalve and turbinated shells. What is very remarkable of one sort of the last is, that their mouths open to the left hand, whereas most of that species open to the right.

Within these few years past, many thousand loads have been carried off to mend land, to the very great advantage of the husbandmen.

It is not a little surprising, that this mass of shells (called Craig) should be so good to enrich light sanuy lands, even those the most barren, that would otherwise produce nothing but heath and moss. But on clay lands it has been often tried, and found of no benefit.

In the Isle of Shepey, in Kent. On the north side of this small tract of land there are clifts of different strata of clay, to about eighty feet high, they decrease gradually to the westward.

As these clifts moulder down by frosts and stormy weather, a great variety of extraneous bodies, saturated with pyritical matter, are scattered along the shore; amongst these are found teeth, vertebræ, and other parts of fish, and many intire crabs and other fish of the crustaceous kind, petrified wood, variety of seed vessels; there are nodules also, which, broken, contain within them fair specimens of the Nautilus Crassus Indicus.

I have been informed, that at Faringdon in Berkshire, some remarkable fossils are found in a reddish 'gravelly bed or

soil near that town..

And in a hill, called Catsgrove, near Reading in Berkshire, are found in a bed of natural sea sand, great numbers of oysters intire, which, when exposed to the air, crumble into dust.

1757, Feb.

XXIV. Discoveries of Fossil Bones in several Counties.

Erfract of three very remarkable Letters, communicated by

Peter Collinson, Esq. F. R. S. concerning Elephants Bones of vast size dug up in England.



From Francis Biddulph, Esq. to Strickland Mannock, Esq.


Burton, Susser, Dec. 24, 1740. You may depend on it for certain that the bones of an elephant were found here. They were nine feet deep in the ground, and discovered in July last by some workmen digging a trench in our park; and by the appearance and disposition of the earth, all people judged it had never been opened.

The first thing discovered was a large tooth, seven feet six inches in length, and, as it lay in the ground, was whole and intire, but in taking up, it broke all to pieces.

After this several more were found in carrying on the trench, particularly the fellow to the beforementioned ivory tooth, exactly of the same length; which being taken up with more care, is now to be seen, though both ends were broken off. Also two more shorter tusks of about three feet in length; a thigh bone forty inches long, and thirty-one inches round in the thickest part.

There were several other bones, as the knee pan; hut the inost perfect of all was one of the grinders not in the least decayed, with part of the jaw-bone, which together weighed above 14 pounds; the upper part of the tooth, where it meets its opposite, was six inches and half long, and three inches broad. There were several other bones, pot here mentioned.

But what is very remarkable is, that these teeth, bones, &c. did not lie close together, as one might suppose those of a skeleton to do, but at some distance asunder; and the larger tusks were full twenty feet apart.

The Rev. Dr, Langwith, minister of Petworth, has most of them, excepting one of the largest tusks, and one large hone. He was here at taking them up, and reasonably concludes, they were not thrown in by hand, but buried in tie universal deluge,

P.S. In the past hard winter there was killed a swan at Emsworth, between Chichester and Portsmouth, lying on a creek of the sea, that had a ring round its neck, with the King of Denmark's arms on it.


From Mannock Strickland, Esq. to ****,

April 4, 1741. A FEW months after the foregoing letter was written, being near Mr. Biddulpli's, I paid him a visit, where I saw the greatest part of one of the great teeth: it was seven feet and half long; and at Dr. Langwith’s I saw the other, with the rest of the bones mentioned in Mr. Biddulph's letter, all things agreeing exacily with his descriptions. I saw also the pit it was digged out of, and observed the various strata, which run parallel, and had never been disturbed.

Within a quarter of a mile south runs a vast mountainous ridge of hills, called the South Downs of Burton Hills, from the name of the parish Mr. Biddulph lives in.

Extract of Letter III. from a Rev. Clergyman to Peter Collinson,

Esq. F.R.S.

Bristol, October 23, 1756. I had also forgot to tell you of a noble acquisition, since my tour to Wales. A gentleman who was digging upon a high hill near Mendip, for ochre and ore, found at the depth of 52 fathom, or 315 and half feet (as he measured himself by direct line) four teeth, not tusks, of a large elephant (which I think is the whole number the creature has) and two thigh-bones, with part of the head; all extremely well preserved; for they lay in a bed of ochre, which I could easily wash off

. When they were brought to me, every crevice was filled with the ochre, and as I washed it off from the outside, a most beautiful white appeared; and they make a fine show in my cabinet. I propose going down into the pit myself soon; for the men have left several small pieces behind, which they did not think worth bringing up, and I make no doubt, if that be the case, but I shall procure the whole, or great part of the animal.

I have, also, since I saw you, got part of an immensely large stag's horn, undoubiedly fossil, dug up tín miles from Bristol.

« PreviousContinue »