River Nar, Castle Acre - © J Gladstone

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What's Special

    • Outstanding features

    • The Norfolk Geodiversity Audit

Outstanding features

Norfolk is famous for its geodiversity. Fifteen special features include:

    • Happisburgh Palaeolithic site – a handaxe and other
          flint tools from sediments of the Cromer Forest-bed
          Formation dated c.700,000 years ago are the oldest
          evidence for humans in northern Europe.

    • The Broads – the UK’s largest nationally protected
          wetland area.

    • The Cromer Ridge – an outstanding assemblage of
          lowland glacial depositional landforms, including the
          Blakeney Esker and Kelling Heath outwash plain.

          The internal, geological structure of the Ridge is

          visible in the cliffs from Weybourne to Mundesley.

    • Maastrichtian Chalk at Sidestrand - the youngest  
          Cretaceous Chalk strata in Britain.

    • The Happisburgh Formation – geological evidence of
          the earliest lowland glaciation in the UK.

    • Sheringham and West Runton beach - the only well-
          developed chalk reefs found between North
          Yorkshire and Kent



West Runton Elephant. Photo  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

• The West Runton Elephant – the largest, most complete skeleton of the Steppe Mammoth ever found.

    • The Lynford Neanderthal site – an outstanding example of a rare open-air Middle Palaeolithic
          site, with Mousterian flint tools associated with the bones of nine Woolly Mammoths.

    • The North Norfolk coast – an outstanding assemblage of dynamic coastal landforms,   
          including the shingle spit at Blakeney Point, the offshore barrier island at Scolt Head and the
          dunes at Holkham and Wells-Next-The-Sea.

    • Norton Subcourse quarry – evidence for extinct hippopotamus and hyaena living in a tributary
         of the ancestral River Thames.

    • Shropham Pit – the most prolific findspot in the UK for vertebrate fossils of the Ipswichian

    • West Runton cliffs – the most prolific findspot for vertebrate fossils of the Cromerian


West Runton beach. Photo © Paul Johnson   Fowlmere, Wretham. Photo © Tim Holt-Wilson   Hunstanton Cliffs. Photo © Mike Hurn
West Runton beach   Fowlmere   Hunstanton Cliffs

    • Hunstanton Cliffs – famous brown, red and white colour banded cliffs.

    • Lowland periglacial landforms – the best examples of patterned ground (‘Breckland Stripes’)
          and relict pingos / palsas in the UK are found in West Norfolk.

    • Breckland meres – a group of natural lakes developed in Chalk solution hollows, with
          distinctively fluctuating water-levels linked with groundwater.

    • Pleistocene stratigraphy – Norfolk has contributed many Stage names to the stratigraphy of
          the UK, including the Ludhamian, Thurnian, Antian, Bramertonian, Pastonian, Beestonian
          and Cromerian.

The Norfolk Geodiversity Audit


In 2007/08 the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership commissioned a geodiversity audit. It was carried out through a survey of published literature and consultation with geological specialists. Some 328 entries were made in what will be an ongoing process. It represents an initial digest of significant geological and geomorphological sites and features in the county, including SSSIs. The results of the audit will be subject to a programme of verification, including identifying and contacting land owners / managers. The listing of a site does not imply any official conservation status or designation, nor right of public access. Hopefully, the audit will be useful for science and education for many years to come.

The audit is available here as an online database. It is organised with tabs showing sites & features organised on a Local Authority basis, and includes pages of references, a stratigraphic table, a term-list and other explanatory notes. All information is copyright © Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership 2009. Visit the online database.(1.5mb file for use with Internet Explorer only; displays a spreadsheet with ten tabs; in case of stalling please press CTRL + F5 to refresh page)


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