Ketton Quarry Field Trip

Hi everyone these are the notes I scribbled down as we walked around the quarry and finally put them into some sort of order.

On Saturday the 18th of May 2013 the Stamford and District Geological Society of which I’m a member and The Open University Geological Society went on an organised field trip to Ketton Quarry in Lincolnshire, UK.

The guys who led the trip are Bill Learoyd (Stamford and Dist.Geol Soc) Ken Nye (Stamford and District. Geol Soc) and Donald Cameron (Open University Geol Soc) there guidance and experts was very much appreciated.

Now… this is working quarry so hard hats, and reflective jackets and stout foot wear are essential. Faces are unstable due to blasting and there are muddy arrears and also deep-water to contend with. We were informed that we enter at our own risk but are covered against third party claims!

After a brief talk on Health and Safety we were instructed to only go where directed by a leader or a member of quarry staff which went to plan for the first few hours after that they pretty much gave us free reign.

Ketton Quarry has probably the best section of Middle Jurassic strata in the East Midlands. Our trip through the quarry the quarry revealed rocks from the upper Lias Clay to the Kellaways sands and clays. In the northern part of the pit faulting has been exposed. Fossils where regularly found especially in Blisworth, Cornbrash and Kellaways.

We first looked at the Lias Clay that is only exposed in a flooded test pit and spoil from it was poorly endowed with fossils.

We then walked across a surface of Northampton Sands Ironstone, iron rich calcareous sandstone. This was once made in the local area to supply ore to Corby Steel works, but became uneconomical for extraction some is now used in cement making.

Sitting on the ironstone is the Grantham Formation, made up of silts and sands with rootlets.

The next bed is the base of the Lower Lincolnshire limestone, the bottom of which is Collyweston Slate. Not a true slate but a thin bedded limestone it is still mined locally. Blocks are kept wet and exposed to frost which causes them to split. The thin “slates “are the dressed and used for roofing.

The next stop allowed us to look at the Upper Lincolnshire Limestone. At Ketton this is Oolitic and a near perfect example of this type. This is the limestone used in the cement making at Ketton it is also Freestone, meaning it can be cut in anyway. This is used in many buildings including some of the colleges of Cambridge.

On top of the Lincolnshire Limestone is a series of silts, mostly non-marine, showing various coloured beds containing rootlets this is the other ingredient for cement making. Although unfossiliferous there is evidence of “Dinoturbation “, this is when a dinosaur track way has been heavily used by many dinosaurs (Cestiosaurus in general). Cestiosaurus ( Sauropod ) would have been common in this area during the Middle Jurassic, it would have been the largest dinosaur in these parts and would have been hunted by Megalosaurus ( Allosaurid ). A skeleton of Cestiosaurus was found near Ketton Quarry and its skeleton resides in Leicester Museum.

The higher beds higher beds are not used in cement making and are dumped on site, this is the reason we are gathered here today for most of these beds contain fossils. We looked through a bed of Blisworth Limestone, fine-grained, not Oolitic, overlain by Blisworth Clay. Next up was some Cornbash, a dark coloured massive limestone this was supposed to be the most likely place to find the ammonite Macrocephalites. But it wasn’t to be no one found any from either party.

We finally looked at the Kellaways itself at the end of the day it is the highest Middle Jurassic formation in Ketton Quarry with a bed of Lopha Visible. The Kellaways is overlain itself by chalky boulder clay with occasional derived fossils.

This is the terrain we had to tackle.
The terrain we had to tackle



This summer fossil finds

A fossil marine reptile bone my son and i prepped today from a fossil hunt this summer. Firstly I laid my sons vast collection of gryphaea out as usual while I tackled this piece of bone. That’s not fair Elliot said you always do the bones. So I decided it was time for Elliot to move from the Devils toe nails and to have a go with the fossil piece I was working on with my new dental picks, but after about 10 minutes he turns to me and says I’ve broken it dad it’s got holes in. Under closer examination and some careful picking of some compact hard clay it looks like he’s discovered a few bite puncture marks!
You’re in luck I told Elliot, I have a friend who has some Pliosaur teeth let’s take our piece around there to see if we can match the bite marks. That suggestion just left Elliot rooted to the floor mumbling something like, Lets Go Now Dad.

The picture like description is the best I can give you:

1. The head of the paddle bone is where it joins to the scapula.
2. The facet end is where the carpals are attached.
3. I’m measuring the middle 3rd of the bone a length of two and a half inches in length.
4. Giving the total length of the paddle bone at a guess seven inches.same bone middle section bottom view head missing facet missing same bone middle section top view head missing facet missing same bone showing possible puncture marks same paddle bone showing top third missing where the head should be scale showing middle third small fragmented paddle bone on edge side view possible puncture marks  I.D. unknown

My day out at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery by Elliot Withers age 6 .

………My dad (Darren) had arranged a meeting with a man named Dean Lomax who is Assistant Curator of Palaeontology  at the Doncaster Museum. And has wrote a book called (Fossils of the Whitby coast a photographic guide) of which he signed for us which was cool, just in time for our family day out at Whitby in a few weeks time.  Dad had some old fossils from Must Farm which Dean was interested to see so I went along with him and took my (Elliot stop leaving your Devil Toe Nails all over the house) said mum, collection with me. They have some great fossils at the museum with quite a few from Peterborough well worth the visit dad said especially if you have some fossils from the Oxford Clay.Dean looked at my Gryphaea first and thought they where great then looked at dads fossils and was quite Interested in one of them, which is now going on a flight to America with Dean to show a friend of his who is also a palaeontologist studying plesiosaurs from Wyoming to help identify what type of bone and what animal it comes from?. And is keen to compare plesiosaur finds from England with finds found in Wyoming. Here are some photos of the finds dad found from a visit to Must Farm with the Stamford & District Geological Society  which Dean helped to identify them dad also let me help clean them up which was great fun. I shall be going on lots of fossil expedition’s with more report back articles to read . That’s all for now we cant wait for Dean to get back to us with news of the mysterious bone also he’s bringing me back a dinosaur bone… awesome.

If you find anything of interest from this article please get in touch with me Darren it would be great for myself and my son to correspond with like minded people….


With the weather now very much taking a turn for the worse limiting fossil hunts to a bare minimum Elliot and I have decided it’s time to clean and prep our finds from this summer’s fossil trips. As I said before being a complete beginner to identifying the fossils we find, putting the time and effort into the research to put an I.D. to them is great fun. If there’s anyone reading our blog who thinks we are way off the mark or spot on please let us know.
So here go some random posts of our finds until our next fossil hunt in the New Year.

Top view of possible PLESIOSAUR ( cryptocleidus) caudal vertebrae with partial neural arch showing at the top. And two facets for chevron-bone showing at the bottom

Bottom view of same bone showing partial neural arch at the top. And

Two facets for chevron-bone showing at the bottom. With partial caudal rib showing top left.

Side view of same bone this time showing a partial caudal rib at the top. With a facet for the chevron-bone showing at the bottom.

Opposite side of same bone this time showing a facet for the chevron-bone showing at the top. With a partial caudal rib showing the bottom

Lepidotes Scales

First row/first scale (Lepidotes) next five(Heterostrophus phillipsi) ?

Second row/first scale(Lepidotes)next six (Heterostrophus phillipsi) ?

Small scale at bottom is different to all the rest maby (Caturus) ?

Pic of Elliot

Prepping Fossils

fossil prepping

And now my Oxford Clay interests.

The Oxford Clay Formation is a Jurassic marine sedimentary rock formation underlying much of southeast England, from as far west as Dorset and as far north as Yorkshire.And is also known for being a famous source of beautifully-preserved fossils, yet it deserves far more fame than it currently has, and it undoubtedly holds more surprises still. I say this from first-hand experience as I’m still finding them to this day!

During 1878 or the early months of the following year a small brickworks was opened on 13 acre site in a town called Fletton. This is located at Peterborough on the picture.   seam-of-oxford-clay1

Of which leads me onto what part did the quarry men play into helping those mid-19th century geologists in finding those fantastic fossil Marine Reptiles from the Oxford Clay.

.clay getters saxon worksopening a new pit at one of the new Peterborough yards in the early 19th century

These men where called the clay getters, here’s a small passage from an article written in April 1882 by a reporter from the Peterborough Advertiser who visited the brickyards at Fletton.

The sides of the mine represent immense walls of 100 feet high. Standing on ledges in the wall are men who apparently are in imminent danger of falling to the bottom and being dashed to pieces, though we were assured that the ledges on which they stood are large and firm. These men are not provided with spades or picks, but have long iron bars, by means of which they displace lumps of the loamy clay which rolls down the side of the mine into the truck beneath ready to receive it as it falls.

Could it have been sights such as these that greeted Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen in there never ending pursuit for fossils? The most notable collections were vertebrates, assembled by the Leeds brothers. Without doubt this would have been the site that would have greeted them as they entered the pit.

I shall continue to update this post as and when to see how far I can go. All contributions welcome.

Cheers for now.


Read All About It! New Dinosaur Footprint Found

….Or Dad and I would like to think so, it was October the 20th 2012 fossil hunting at Saltwick Bay with UKAFH . We found a Dino footprint of an ornithopod maybe! Or a theropod (I hope so) said dad, it was a single small sized boulder fallen from the cliffs above. Presumably the specimen had fallen in a recent landslip, perhaps we were the first to ever see this in over 170 million years that very day..? With many other finds including belemnites/ammonites and my first  bivalves, it was one of the best days ever and nice to look for fossils with other people who like them too.  A big thank you to UKAFH for organising the trip and thank you to Dean Lomax  and friends for  leading the hunt.

Cheers for now  Elliot&Darren.


Saltwick bay

Elliot and I had joined members from the UKAFH for a Whitby weekender fossil hunting the first days hunt was at Saltwick bay followed by the second day at Runswick bay.

We stopped to examine a fallen block from the Saltwick Formation which contains prints which have been attributed to a primitive Jurassic stegosaurian dinosaur.

The block is upside down and contains three casts of the original moulds made by animal footprints. The upper left print shows indentations made by the gaps between the “toes” of an elephant-like foot.

After sitting with those foot prints for a while I trained my eye in to see if we could spot some more. After a few hours of near on eye popping, lo and behold, we found another print!


Fossil Hunting on Yorkshires Dinosaur Coast by Elliot Withers.

Fossil Hunting on Yorkshires Dinosaur Coast by Elliot Withers


Spent the end of August Bank Holiday weekend in the village  of  Alne,  North Yorkshire  11 miles  from  York for Mum, 65 miles from Whitby for me and Dad. Now two things to remember Dad noted for next time, Park&Ride on a Bank Holiday & Tide Times  we forgot both. Mum was pleased shopping in York , but for Dad & I the Dinosaur Coast was all that mattered. Sunday morning  rushed out of our camping pod , in the car straight into Whitby but as Dads notes say , couldn’t park anywhere . No  problem though Sandsend is down the road , Dad said lets try there, again same problem couldn’t park.


Note Pad Second Point Explained..!

TIDE TIMES: the reminder Dad scribbled in his notes , now due to the early morning charge to Whitby & then onto Sandsend we decided  to try Saltwick Bay.Once the tide is out, searching to the right hand side ( past the ship wreck) some good fossils can be found. We where there to early though , the tide was in & restricting our search for fossils but I didn’t mind I had a great day. Got soaking wet from the sea had to change my clothes twice, cracked my first nodule & found an ammonite inside, & spotted a seal watching me digging . I shall be back.

17 18 Elliot Withers.