Monday, 8 October 2012

The Stainton gravel beds

                                                    My work to date regarding the Stainton gravel beds

( Not related to the later Stainsby deposits ! )

                     I first discovered the gravel beds at Stainton beck, about a half a mile south west of Stainton quarry, an old whinstone (Basaltic Andesite) mine in Stainton village,( Hence the Stainton gravel bed title) on the outskirts of Middlesbrough in North east England.

                      After finding several well preserved fossils, and mineralised bones some carved, i decided to excavate into the beck banks. After digging only about a foot through beck deposits, and fallen upper deposits, i found a hard packed gravel section. I first thought this to be something created by the beck in earlier times, but the gravel deposit was hard packed, and i noticed it was of an equal depth, and very dry.

The image below shows a section of gravel bed excavated at Marton west beck, it was that hard packed i had to use a hammer and thin chisel, to get into it.

I then started to notice the deposits above were not the documented Glacial till, but consolidated separate alluvial clay layers. These layers are almost stoneless, and ive found no fossil content. These layers cover a large part of the south west area of Cleveland, and sit above Mercia mudstone ( Triassic bedrock ) , more can be learned of the upper layers on earlier posts.


                               The two images above, show how compact and level the Stainton gravel beds are, everywhere i have excavated in the southwest area of Cleveland, Ive found the same flat hard packed gravel deposit.

                           I then started to excavate bone fragments, and well preserved fossils and minerals, i have now excavated bone from as deep as three meters into the tightly packed gravel beds, including a Human tibia shaft over 2 metres into my main excavation at Stainton along with Human skull fragments.


Above the human tibia shaft, and below the excavation.


Below just some of the excavated items from my main excavation at Stainton beck.

The image below shows four large well preserved limestone slabs excavated from the Stainton gravel beds, rich in Jurassic fossils, the piece to the top centre, appears to be a section of Ammonite made up of other smaller fossils. The piece below ime not sure of, but if i had to guess i would say some type of altered limestone containing Stromatolites. 


                                              I have now learned to recognise tell tale signs in the beck banks, in the deep beck valleys of this area, that tell me the Stainton gravel beds are located not far into the banks of the becks. And fined it quite easy to locate them, my problem is this, the upper deposits!, for me to excavate a metre square x 300mm deep section of gravel bed, i have to move tons of consolidated separate alluvial layers from above them.


The image above is an excavation close to my main excavation at Stainton beck, the gravel bed is not as thick here.

Above an unknown bone excavated from the packed gravel bed at Marton west beck. about 2.5 miles north of my main excavation at Stainton beck.


Above my third excavation at Maltby beck, about 3 quarter of a mile west of my main excavation at Stainton beck, the individual alluvial layers can be clearly seen above the packed gravel bed,


The image above shows a bone shaft protruding from the gravel bed and below it can be seen to the bottom of the ruler, note how far into the excavation i first uncovered it !


Above the excavation over a metre into the packed gravel bed.


Above the end of the excavation at Maltby beck showing the separate alluvial layer then the gravel bed below.


Above a horse tooth i excavated over a metre into the gravel bed


Above the cleaned and dried horse tooth note the mineralisation, and remember these gravel beds have been said to have to be between 12- 17,000 ybp  or more in date, ime told we never had a horse population at this location then !?


The above image shows my excavation at Ormesby beck about 3.5 miles north east of my main excavation at Stainton, showing the gravel bed sat above the same red brown plastic clay, as at all other excavation locations, in the south west area of Cleveland.


The image above shows the strange coloured deposits about a metre below the gravel beds at Maltby beck, here the gravel bed that can be seen about the level of the spade handle, have large sand pockets, but are still covered by the same alluvial deposits as at Stainton half a mile to the east.


Above the as yet unexplained layers a metre below the Stainton gravel beds at Maltby beck, the coloures really are this bright !


The above image shows the gravel bed at Maltby beck, the bed here is about a metre and a half above the present beck level.

The image above shows my daughter carefully excavating a mandible piece from deep into the packed gravel bed at my main excavation at Stainton, the Human Tibia and skull fragments were excavated about a metre further into the packed gravels you see 

The image above shows the mandible piece cleaned and dried only. 

And the three images below the mandible showing the tooth sides and surface, it looks to be bovine but unlike anything ive compared it to.



The simple diagram above shows the separate layers, that lay below and above the Stainton gravel beds, in the south west area of Cleveland North East England. More detailed reports on my excavations can be viewed in earlier posts.

24 - This image shows Roger Curry an armature mineralogist, and good mate, pointing out the Stainton gravel bed. While sat on the ever present plastic red clay that sits below the gravel beds at almost all locations.

Below is a video taken by Roger Curry at the Stainton beck location it shows a good section of my main excavation.

I have visited the Stainton gravel bed excavations with Archaeologists and Geologists, including my good friend Andy Cooper from tvriggs and have been advised that the Stainton gravel beds must date to at least 12. 000 ybp.

  Yet this link shows recent work by the University of Sheffield that if correct implies that the climate in this area at the time could not have sustained large animals and Humans.

                                  As yet Ive had no interest from Middlesbrough town hall, even though they are and i quote, monitoring my work via Tees Archaeology. 

I have recently been informed by Peter Row that Middlesbrough council are in no way monitoring my work via there organisation, as they have withdrawn funding to Tees Archaeology.

                         Rib pieces excavated from deep into the packed deposits at my main excavation at Stainton.

 26 - I found these rib pieces  in my main excavation at Stainton beck, the end of one of the ribs can be seen just below the end of the tool. Other parts of the two ribs fell away as i removed the clay, they can be seen in the top right of the image.

The image above shows the excavation before i started finding the ribs.
Note how tightly packed and previously undisturbed the clay around the bones are.28

29 - The image above shows one rib above the other in the centre.


 31 - This image shows the sandy clay layer that contained the bones now removed, the layers above and there are at least two are well sorted almost stoneless  alluvial deposits.

Images of the gravel beds at Marton west beck i excavated today, this is the hardest bed ive encountered !!!


Main excavation at Stainton reopened .

 42 - Fossil bone found in the packed sandy deposit above the gravel bed.

 43 - I first thought the bone was going to be delicate and porous.

 44 As this image shows the bone is in fact heavily mineralised and has a varnished appearance.

 45 - The bone is the remains of the distal end of an unknown scapula.



 48 - These rib pieces were excavated from the same deposits.

 49 - This image shows most of the excavation site.

 50 T his image shows the gravel bed outlined in yellow and the scapula find outlined in red, this is over 3 metres into these deposits.

 51 - The red - brown plastic clay deposit that underlies nearly all of the Stainton gravel bed deposits in this area, can be seen outlined in red, the gravel bed is outlined in yellow.

 52 - This image shows  two sections of gravel suspended above the main gravel bed outlined in red, the upper stoneless alluvial layer above the black outline.
 Gravel bed located in another area of Stainton beck.
 53 -  This section of the Stainton gravel bed was located approximately 100 metres north west of my main excavation. 

 54 - The bed can be clearly seen and as at most other locations is very flat , and averages 300 mm in depth .

 55 - This section was left uncovered after recent flooding , all I have had to do is tidy up a little .

 56 - The grey organic layer that always sits above the Stainton gravel beds can clearly be seen in this image .

 57 - the ruler shows the average depth of the bed , I know this to be the average depth of most of the Stainton gravel bed deposits in the south west area of Cleveland .

 58 -  This image shows both the gravel bed outlined in red and the grey organic layer outlined in yellow .

                                   Gravel bed located again at Stainton beck 13, 04, 13

 59 - This exposure was found quite by accident, I had decided to have a rest while walking the beck, I attempted to stick my spade into a section of bank, but the spade just bounced off the gravel bed beneath ! 

 60 - The alluvial layers are outlined in orange.

 61 - The gravel bed is outlined in red again like most other deposits it averages 300mm thick. I have only ever found a few of the larger stones outlined in blue, and they are always sat directly on top of the flat gravel bed. .

The link below has the latest information regarding the excavated gravel bed shown above.


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Please feel free to correct me on any part of my blog, i would also welcome any help that can be offered in correctly identifying some of my fossil finds All the best to all Heath.