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CHER Number:MCB16580
Type of record:Monument
Name:Coprolite pit, Stow-cum-Quy

Summary - not yet available

Grid Reference:TL 513 626
Parish:Stow cum Quy, South Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Full description

1. A layer of phosphatic nodules were found locally, mainly in the Cambridge Greensand. They were thought to be fossilized dung, probably from dinosaurs, and were therefore named coprolites. At the end of the 1850s, the coprolites were dug up and treated with sulphuric acid fro use as a phosphate-rich fertiliser. The usual method was a form of open-cast mining. A long, straight V-shaped ditch was dug down to the coprolite stratum; after digging it out, the overlying earth was dug up on one side, and wheelbarrows over planks placed horizontally in the V. Thus a fresh line of mineral was cleared without having to lift out overburden to ground level. Coprolite extraction ceased around the end of the century, but there was a brief revival during the first World War to obtain phosphate for explosives. This ditch, now water-filled, is today a nature reserve.


<1> Balchin, N. and Filby, P., 2001, A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, S 37, p. 25-6 (Bibliographic reference). SCB19119.

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: Balchin, N. and Filby, P.. 2001. A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. S 37, p. 25-6.