West, Ian, M. and Keith Talbot. 2017. The Geology of Lepe Beach and Stone Point, Hampshire. Internet field guide. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Lepe-Beach.htm. revised version: 18th September 2018. Associated with the separate webpages: - Beaulieu-River-Estuary.htm and the Calshot-Spit-Stanswood-Bay.htm webpages

Lepe Beach, Geology of the Wessex Coast

Ian West,
Romsey, Hampshire.
and Visiting Scientist at the:
Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences,
Southampton University, Website hosted by courtesy of Information Systems Services, Southampton University
Aerial photographs by courtesy of The Channel Coastal Observatory , National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

|Home and List of Webpages
| Calshot Spit and Stanswood Bay| | Erratics of the Wessex Coast.| | Hurst Castle Spit| | Solent Introduction | Solent Bibliography | Solent Bibliography - Topics |Chilling & Brownwich Cliffs near Hill-Head, Solent |Fawley Power Station geology, Southampton Water |New Forest Geology Bibliography |

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Reorganisation work in progress

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LEPE BEACH CONTENTS (as at 4.07, Tues, 12 Sept 2017):

7. INTRODUCTION - Arrival and Car Parking
8. HISTORY OF LEPE - General
9. STRATA AT LEPE - Eocene, Headon Hill Formation
10. STRATA AT LEPE - Pleistocene Interglacial Deposit
11. STRATA AT LEPE - Pleistocene Gravel
12. STRATA AT LEPE - Recent (Holocene)
13. STRATA AT LEPE - Miscellaneous
17a. LOCATION - STONE POINT, LEPE - Introduction
17b. LOCATION - STONE POINT, LEPE - Pleistocene Gravel
17c. LOCATION - STONE POINT, LEPE - Interglacial Deposit
17d. LOCATION - STONE POINT, LEPE - Stone Blocks on the Shore
18. LOCATION - in reserve
22. MISCELLANEOUS - Purbeck Marble
23. MISCELLANEOUS - General-1
24. MISCELLANEOUS - General-2

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The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary
(this includes the Inchmery Saltmarshes and Needs Ore Point) and
The Geology of Calshot Spit and Stanswood Bay

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Arriving at Lepe Beach, upper car park and descending to the shore adjacent to the new cafe, as in 2018

A view landward towards Lepe Beach at Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, from the end of the long, seaward, shingle spit, Horseshoe Spit, June 2014

Lepe Beach, Hampshire, with its Watch House and views of the Solent, including those of ships, like this cruise ship, Ruby Princess, which is swinging round the Brambles Bank

View of the mouth of the Beaulieu River and the West Solent, seen from the west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, during rain showers, 1st May 2017

Portland Stone rock armour, east of the Watch House at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Car park at Lepe Beach, Hampshire


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1.1 INTRODUCTION - General

Introduction to the geology of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, with photographs by Christine Mackey, 2017

Keith Talbot examined a slab on the beach, near Stone Point


[Re - Location of Lepe Beach. If required, use Google Earth or, alternatively, run down to the Bing Map Viewer near the end of the this webpage, for enlargeable aerial photograph of Lepe Beach.]

Lepe Beach is situated southeast of the New Forest and is the closest mainland coast to the Isle of Wight. There are exposures here of Devensian Gravel (Pleistocene) overlying, at one location, an Ipswhichian Interglacial deposit with elephant remains, and a lower and older gravel. Beneath the Pleistocene gravels are the clays of the Headon Hill Formation (Solent Group), although exposures are small. On the beach at Lepe are various rocks which have been brought in for sea-defences, as balast, from shipwrecks, or transported for building purposes. These include much Bembridge Limestone, Purbeck Stone including a dinosaur footprint, and Carboniferous Limestone.

Lepe Beach is a notable and well-known geological locality at the southeastern end of the New Forest. It has (rare) fossil elephant remains, a dinosaur footprint, palaeoliths and interesting features of coastal erosion and spit development. It is not obviously fossiliferous to the casual visitor but it has good geomorphological and erosional features. These and the basic geology of the location is explained in this webpage.

See also: the associated webpage:The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary

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Most of the beach at Lepe, central and east and west is accessible to the public. The western part of the Inchmery area to the west is private, but there is a footpath. The land on the cliff top in the west is private. This is fairly obvious and there is no good reason for the geologist to go to the cliff top, so problems are unlikely to arise. The central area from the Watch House eastward to the Country Park has no special restrictions. The Country Park is a pleasant accessible area, with car-parking and recreational facilities. There is car parking at just above beach level with cafe and toilet facilities etc. in front of the western part of the Country Park. The place is obvious and can be seen from the road. There is a car-parking charge here and at the other car parks.

Generally there is no problem of arriving by car and walking along most of the coast on the beach. There is a limit to the east. The Cadland Estate is a private area and a nature reserve. There are obvious notices drawing attention to this. This limitation will not affect most people because the barrier is some way from the main Lepe Beach area and the car parks. Some way to the west, past the Watch House, there is private land. There is a footpath but at some high tides the water may come up to the cliff


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This webpage is simply a geological and/or geomorphological description, with photographs, of certain stretches of coast. It provides information but it is not a direct field guide in that it does not advise you to go to any particular place at all. Most safety and privacy matters discussed here are obvious and are a matter of commonsense; however, they are listed as a warning. In general and in normal weather conditions, Lepe Beach and the adjacent areas do not appear to be particularly hazardous. Accidents just could occur, however, during field work and thus precautions should be taken.

Do not trespass onto private land. Some places shown here may be inaccessible and some have been photographed by telephoto lens at a distance. Follow any local instructions or regulations or information given on notice boards. Note that conditions on the coast will vary with tide and weather and some places shown may be inaccessible or dangerous on a particular day.

Be careful not to slip when on rock armour (mostly present in the Watch House area of central Lepe Beach). There can be significant gaps between the rocks and the edges of the hard limestone are often sharp. Take care at cliffs, even low cliffs and beware of debris or gravel which might fall. After significant coast erosion, there is sometimes gravel and/or soil which is overhanging and this may or may not be associated with tree roots. There is risk of bulk collapse or of some falling debris from this at any time. Even though they can remain in place for years, you should normally avoid close proximity to overhangs. Dangerously soft ground may be present on saltmarshes, mudflats and estuarine channels. Particularly take care not to go out too far at low tide and always avoid soft mud. Be careful not to be trapped by a rising tide; check on the tide times. Avoid old or rusted relics of military activities or sea defences that may have sharp hazardous edges. This is not a good area for swimming because of possible encounter with sharp obstacles, and/or soft mud and strong currents.

Avoid private land and where possible and remain on footpaths or obvious good beaches. Follow the guidance of warning notices. In general, of course, just be sensible and cautious. Anything which you do is at your own risk. This website is just a description and you do not necessarily have to go to any of the places shown. No responsibility for your safety is accepted.

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Aerial Photographs of Lepe Beach and the Beaulieu River Mouth Area


Composite, small-scale aerial photograph of the coastline at Lepe and the mouth of the Beaulieu River, West Solent, Hampshire, photos by CCO, with labels added


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Old Maps of Lepe Beach and the Beaulieu River Mouth Area There are many old maps, of various dates available with regard to the West Solent. It is particularly easy to study historic changes by use of these. In general sea-level has not changed greatly, but the character of the northwestern shore of the West Solent is gradually becoming more like of an open coast (the Isle of Wight side has long been more coastal than estuarine in type). In summary a continuous shingle beach backed by low, eroding gravel cliffs are the future for this coast. The extent of actual erosion and coastal retreat, so far has been limited, but the 2014 storm changed the situation and began to open this coast up to serious erosion and major long-shore drift. Some detailed aspects will be considered below. Some significant evidence was given in the paper referred to below, but that was back in 1991, before the sea started to heighten its attack.

C have discussed some changes with time in the West Solent (and other parts of the Solent) up to 1991. Their statement is important and it is the best summary of the situation then and now, when it is worse. They noted that:

"A major change which has affected much of the Hampshire Coast is the narrowing of the intertidal zone by the movement landwards of the Low Water Mark. This has occurred both on shallow-gradient, salt marsh coasts such as in the Keyhaven-Pennington area and on steeper, beach-lined coasts such as Lee-on-Solent. The changes have occurred at different times in different places and are therefore difficult to ascribe to a single cause such as a rise in sea-level. It is though that dredging, construction of sea defences, growth and decline of salt marsh plants and sea level rise could all have been contributary factors. The scale of change is enormous in places, the intertidal zone now being only a fifth of its width 100 years ago."

[For more information see also: The associated webpage
The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary]

Some historic map information is now provided:

Coast of the Solent and Isle of Wight in 1693, southern England, based with simplications on and some interpretation on Collins' chart

The very old map shows extensive mudflats in the West Solent, generally corresponding to the mudflats shown on later maps. These became saltmarshes after about 1900 when Lord Montagu introduced Spartina to the Beaulieu River estuary. As noted elsewhere, these saltmarshes are now in decline because of death of Spartina and modern erosion. The old map tends to show the West Solent as a rather restricted estuary protected from major wave action (from the southwest) by the Shingles Bank and Hurst Spit. The latter has not changed much in size but it is sometimes overwashed now. The Shingles Bank has been subject to dredging for shingle and has presumably declined in size; the writer does not know the extent of this. In overall view the formerly rather protected estuary with mudflats is turning into a narrow stretch of sea with cliffs, at least between Lymington and Calshot Spit. The Calshot part has already been converted to a coats cliffs quite long ago. However, the stretch from Lepe Beach (now with erosion near Inchmery House) towards Lymington is in progress of changing to a seaway with cliffs on both north and south coasts. Rising sea-level, loss of Spartina and probably major damage to the Shingles Bank and Hurst Spit are factors. Sooner of later the coast will be almost completely cliffed from Lymington to Lepe Beach, with, of course, some loss of land due to erosion. This is probably obvious to many readers, but maps and photographs show how this beginning to take place. The cliff and shingle beach development and the longshore drift eastwards means that further major development of a spit or spits at the mouth of the Beaulieu River is almost inevitable (but will it almost block the Beaulieu River in due course? Look at the trend and see photographs showing erosion from Lepe Beach to Tanners Lane and Pitts Deep area, near Lymington.).

A modified part of an old map, 1811, showing Lepe and Exbury, West Solent, Hampshire

Part of an old topographic map of 1864 showing Lepe Beach, Hampshire, modified and partly redrawn from an imperfect original

Late Victorian geological map of the Lepe area, Hampshire

An 1885 topographic base map, with the geology superimposed, of the area around Lepe, including Lower Exbury and the mouth of the Beaulieu River, West Solent, Hampshire

An old, topographic map of parts of the New Forest and the Solent Estuaries, southern England, probably from about the 1920s

Southeastern New Forest, 1924 map

Chart showing Lepe Beach and the Beaulieu River, Hampshire

Shingle transport and spit development near Lepe Beach and the mouth of Beaulieu River, Hampshire, southern England, a modern map

The 1934 topographic map of Lepe Beach and Calshot Spit, Hampshire, with roads updated to 1947


Recent changes in the spit at the mouth of the Beaulieu River, near Inchmery and Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

Distant views of the end of the long shingle spit, Gull Island etc, at the mouth of the Beaulieu River and near to the old Needs Ore Point, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

Supposed route of Roman Road to Stone Point, near Lepe, Hampshire

Map of the Lepe Beach, area, Hampshire, showing old wrecks

Reids, 1905, hypothetical maps of the Ictis Causeway and the Solent River, Solent Estuaries, southern England

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Late Victorian geological map of the Lepe area, Hampshire

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There are three main car parks at Lepe Beach. One is on the seafront, on the gravel, in front of the cafe etc. This is west of the Watch House. More parking is in the Country Park, above the gravel cliff. A third location for car parking, less conspicuous, is a grass field on the hill just east of the Coastguard Cottages (with a lane entrance from the coast road). Unless there is some special event or particularly hot weather it is not usually difficult to park a car at Lepe Beach.

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On the west side of Lepe Beach is Inchmery House. This is a large, private country house with Palladian architecture, on the coast with a view across to the Isle of Wight. It is not accessible to the public. It has an unusually varied and interesting historic record and is a notable place on the Hampshire coast. The house above the low cliff west of Lepe Beach and at the mouth of the Beaulieu River. It is partly concealed by trees. The house has been owned by some famous people, including members of the Rothschild family. At one time it was owned by Simon Mann, who had been involved in an attempted coup in the oil-rich, state of Equatorial Guinea. Now, it is now owned by the TV presenter, Dan Snow and Lady Edwina Grosvenor. For more information on Inchmery House go to the Rothschild website:

There are also some other websites concerning houses and history. It was important in the Second World War as a training centre for parachute saboteurs of Polish origin. They had to descend behind the front lines just before D-Day and blow-up bridge etc. They were highly trained in many topics at this house.

(See also the secret activities of Ronald Bunday re Inchmery House:

The coast in front of Inchmery House is now in a state of some moderate, but not severe, erosion. This is discussed separately below.

To the east of Inchmery House is Lepe House. This is not visible from the beach or from the road because there has been much growth of trees in recent years. It was once an inn, The Ship at Lepe, but later much enlarged. It was at one time the home of Lord Forster of Lepe. There is an old photograph and more interesting details in the interesting book: Murley and Murley (1991) (pp. 14-15). A point of geomorphological significance is that in 1913 there was a shingle beach in front of Lepe House and there was no significant erosion. An old cliff has declined into a vegetated slope and small tree were growing (the cliff may have been inactive since about the 1880s). Now there is a serious erosional problem here and there is rock armour in front of the house.

A major aspect of recent history of this coastal area has been preparation for D-day in the Second World War. The construction of the bottom halves of six Phoenix caissons for the Mulberry Harbour of the D-Day Invasion took place near Stansore Point and northeast of this promontory. Relics of these works still remain. There is also a memorial to servicemen lost in the D-Day operation.

The work force was in a camp in what is now the Lepe Country Park area, above the beach. Each caisson was 200ft. long, 55ft. wide and 60ft. high and each weighed 6000 tons. The lower halves were launched near Stansore Point and towed by tug to Southampton dry dock for the top section to be cast (Murley and Murley, 1991). Mulberry Harbours were in due established at "Omaha" Beach (Mulberry A) and "Gold" Beach (Mulberry B) on the French coast.

As mentioned above, Inchmery House was used for training special operations parachutists involved in the early stages of the D-Day operation.

The more recent history of the Lepe area has been its development as a recreational area. It has a stony shore, with pleasant views across to the Isle of Wight. It is actually one of the few areas where there is easy public access to the northwest shore of the West Solent. Further west, across the Beaulieu River there is an extensive stretch of private coast, with only public access at Tanners Lane. Much of the south coast of southern England was private, like this. However, elsewhere, there are usually, now, coastal footpaths on the cliff top.

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9. STRATA AT LEPE - Eocene (Headon Hill Formation)


Reddish and greenish marls of the Headon Hill Formation, Solent Group, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Marls of the Headon Hill Formation on the shore at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

At about 1 km west of Lepe, at the mouth of the Beaulieu River, there are exposures of Upper Eocene strata beneath the Pleistocene gravels. They occur at the foot of the cliff where there has been recent erosion. These marls are not very fossiliferous here but some small shell remains can be found in small exposures on the shore. The marls belong to the Headon Hill Formation which is the lowest part of the Solent Group. Such strata are predominantly lacustrine and lagoonal with rather fragile aragonitic molluscan remains. They can be seen at Hordle Cliff and various places on the Isle of Wight (e.g. Whitecliff Bay ).

The red horizon is a palaeosol of a type common in the upper part (formerly Osborne Beds) of the Headon Hill Formation. This would have been lagoonal or lacustrine mud exposed as a land surface in late Eocene times so that the iron content was oxidised. It was probably brown originally with a hydrated ferric oxide such limonite (goethite) but has subsequently been dehydrated towards hematite. This explains the crimson colour. Reddish palaeosols are well-known in the Reading Formation of Palaeocene age (see Alum Bay webpage and Whitecliff Bay webpage. When considering its palaeosol origin of the red do not be confused by the presence of rootlets. These are actually modern and from the reeds that have been growing recently in this marl, like those in the right of the right-hand picture.

An interesting feature in the cliff in this area of erosion is a miniature rotational landslide. The Pleistocene gravel has rotated down on a curved slip-plane with its base in the Headon marls. Part of a slip plane with slickensides was visible in March 2004.


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10. STRATA AT LEPE - Pleistocene Interglacial Deposit

Pleistocene Interglacial deposits have only been found in a very small geographical area. They are in an old channel at the eastern end of the beach car park. This deposit is usually concealed by beach shingle, but can be exposed from time to time. It is at first seen as just dark mud under the beach. Elephant remains have been found. Details are given further below, in relation to this specific locality. (Go to: 18. Location - Stone Point and Beach Car Park area.)

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11. STRATA AT LEPE - Pleistocene Gravel - Introduction


Pleistocene gravel cliff at central to east Lepe Beach, Hampshire, seen in June 2014, after storms from the previous winter have caused significant erosion

Details of the Pleistocene gravel in the low gravel terrace in the lower part of the eroded cliff, in front of the Country Park, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 18th August 2017


The Pleistocene gravel terrace has a top surface at about 8m. above sea level. The flint gravel is of the type that is usual in the south of England. The flints are mostly subangular and the deposit is poorly sorted. The pebbles have been fractured at different times. They have probably been largely reworked from older, higher gravel deposits. There are some rounded pebbles that have been reworked from Eocene pebble deposits. These rounded pebbles have been eroded from the Chalk in the early Tertiary. They have been subjected to very violent and persistant wave-action on beaches at about the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) and this is why they are so rounded (even the present Chesil Beach does not produce this degree of rounding). The river-flood transport in the Pleistocene has produced quite large conchoidal fractures in pebbles, but not the type of rounding that took place in the Eocene.

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12. STRATA AT LEPE - Recent (Holocene)
The main Holocene, i.e. recent, deposits are of estuarine mud. There are major mud deposits with declining saltmarshes near Inchmery. In the past there were extensive mud-flats on the northwestern coast of the West Solent. The species of saltmarsh cordgrass Spartina anglica now present in the area is a cross-breed of the European native Spartina maritima (small cordgrass) and American Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass). Spartina anglica was introduced to the Beaulieu River (estuary) by Lord Montagu at about 1900 and has since flourished in the region. Extensive saltmarshes with this plant are, or rather, were present at the western end of the Lepe Beach area, in particular in front of the Inchmery House estate. The plant is now in decline in the region and at the same time the general sea level is rising at a about 2 millimetres per annum (in practical terms something like 9 inches in 70 years).

"Core samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years."
This quote is from National Geographic - Sea Level Rise. See the full article available online.
However, it should be noted that the major changes in the coast of the Solent estuaries are probably the result of major hurricanes such as that of 1703. Hurst Spit, was then a major natural bank supplied by all of Christchurch Bay and it had not then reduced and weakened by localised human activies, such as the sea defences of Barton-on-Sea and Milford-on-Sea. In spite of this Hurst Spit was overtopped by the sea and two salterns were destroyed in the West Solent beyond it. At the same time there was severe damage in the New Forest and particularly at New Park, near Brockenhurst. See Daniel Defoe (1704), The Storm.

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13. STRATA AT LEPE - Miscellaneous

(ready for future use, if required)

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The old Solent and Exbury Brickyard or Solent Brickworks.

The old quay on the Beaulieu River near the site of the old Solent Brickworks, west of Inchmery House, near Exbury and Lepe, Hampshire

Green and red clay of the Headon Hill Formation, exposed at the foot of the cliff, just east of Inchmery House, near Exbury and Lepe, Hampshire

White or yellow bricks from the Solent Brick Works, Exbury, used in old houses at Exbury, Hampshire

The clays of the Headon Hill Formation was used for brick-making at the Solent Brick Works, Exbury. The location is shown on an old map above, and it is close to the old quay on the Beaulieu River, about half a kilometre west of Inchmery House. It is adjacent to Haxland Pits, a place shown on the Ordnance Map.

This place is almost at the western end of the area that is discussed in this webpage. The site of the old brickworks is not conspicuous from the road and it is on private land. There is a Brickyard Cottage, at Inchmery Lane, Exbury, presumably at the old works. The geological map indicates the site as being on "Osborne and Headon Beds". More specifically the strata worked are part of the Headon Hill Formation of the Solent Group. This is of Priabonian Age. In the old literature they were referred to as the "Headon Beds". The strata are of the uppermost part of the Eocene. The Priabonian Stage lasted from approximately 37.8 to 33.9 million years ago.

The original brickworks seems to be overgrown and inaccessible. However, some small exposures of the same green clay of the Headon Hill Formation can be seen beneath the Pleistocene gravel in the cliff just east of Inchmery House, as shown above. Of course, there are better exposure of Headon Hill Formation strata in the main cliff exposure at Hordle Cliff, west of Milford-on-Sea.

Holland and de Rothschild (1982) have refered to these brickworks.

"At Lower Exbury there was a brickyard making white bricks from indigenous clay; indeed white bricks from Exbury were used in extensions made to Broadlands House, now the home of the Earl of Romsey, in the 1870s by the great architect Henry Holland. Moreover, most of the old houses in Exbury itself were built of those white Exbury bricks..." These white (or actually yellowish) bricks can be seen in Exbury Village and adjacent area at the present time. They were also used for Winchester's Guildhall."

Some significant fossil discoveries were made in the Solent and Exbury Brickworks. Bones of the "Hampshire Crocodile, Diplocynodon have been found there. Presumably the well-known Diplocynodon hantoniensis, originally found in the Headon Hill Formation at Hordle Cliff by Barbara, Marchioness of Hasting (although probably by her staff). The bones are not common but I have found vertebrae in the Crocodile Bed at that locality. Diplocynodon is an extinct genus of alligatoroid that lived during the Paleocene to middle Eocene 49 million years ago in Europe. It looked very similar to the modern caiman in that it was small and had bony armour scutes covering its neck, back, belly, and tail. The longest Diplocynodon recovered was 4 feet in length and probably fed on fish, animal flesh, and took insects when young. (from Wikipedia). For information on the occurrence of Diplocynodon hantoniensis at Hordle Cliff, near Milford-on-Sea go to: the webpage - Hordle Cliff - Geology. In additions, remains of the turtles Ocadia and Trionyx have been found in the green clays of the Solent and Exbury Brickworks. Osborne White thought these clays might be the equivalent of the Crocodile Bed at Hordle Clay, although that consists of brown sand and some white silt.


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Thermokarstic, cryoturbated Devensian gravel about 1km west of Lepe, Hampshire


Some erosion is taking place near Inchmery House (West of Lepe Beach and the Watch House). A result of this is that there are some good exposures of a low Pleistocene gravel terrace, just to the east of Inchmery House. There are some limited exposures of clays of the Headon Hill Formation.


Inchmery House from the road, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017


Inchmery House, viewed from the small shingle bank, and looking landwards toward the old cliff, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire


Inchmery House is a substantial building, probably constructed of the local "white" brick, that was made from the Headon Hill Formation (the Solent Brick Works were nearby on the west side). With regard to geological sequence it on a few metres of Pleistocene gravel ("Plateau Gravel" in old terminology). The relatively level, top surface of this gravel is at about 10 metres or so above sea-level (so it is a fairly low gravel terrace). A few metres down is clay of the Headon Hill Formation. This unit is well-exposed on Headon Hill in the Isle of Wight and in the cliffs between Barton-on-Sea and Milford-on-Sea in Christchurch Bay. Fossils are abundant elsewhere, and include bones of the famous Hampshire Crocodile (probably an alligator). The red and green clays of the Headon Hill Formation are not noticably fossiliferous at the base of the cliff near Inchmery House. The reason for this is probably because they are too near the surface and have been weathered. Fossiliferous strata probably lies underneath.

In the 1850s there was a small beach in front (as in the western part of Lepe Beach) and then some mudflats and the mouth of the Beaulieu River. Later a low shingle beach bulged out seaward, because of accumulation of shingle here that could travel westward into the marshes of the Beaulieu river. The place is still almost the effective end of the well-defined beach (from Lepe) but the shingle accumulation in front of the house is being eroded away by the occasional major storms (as in 2014). Because of the existence of the shingle bank in front of the old (early Victorian) cliff has become overgrown and even has quite substantial trees. It is now a woody bank. However, cliff erosion has taken place recently further east and the cliff has been recently eroded there. At Inchmery House this has not yet happened and still some protection given by the remains of the shingle bank. In a while the beach will have been cut back and the old cliff will return to activity. It remains to be seen as to how much erosion takes place. It is difficult to make any estimate because spits have been developing in recent years in the Needs Ore Point area (across the mouth of the Beaulieu River). If these grow large enough they may give more protection to Inchmery House; however, the matter is uncertain.

Spit development and coast erosion west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, at the mouth of the Beaulieu River or estuary, as seen from above in labelled view

Some cliff erosion and retreat of the beach at some old gun emplacement debris, near Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen on 2nd May 2017

A fore-shortened view from the coast near Inchmery House eastward towards the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 2nd April 2017, showing localised coast erosion

Some photographs, old and new, are shown for comparison. An old one from 2004 (shown immediately below) shows posts in the sea and erosion of late Eocene clays at the foot of the cliff.

Marls of the Headon Hill Formation on the shore at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Another old photograph from 2004 (shown immediately below) shows eroded posts at low tide at the same locality, east of Inchmery. Erosion has commenced here, but it was not on the scale of that seen in 2017 (further below).

An old photograph of 2004, showing eroded sea-defences of posts at low tide, east of Inchmery, near Lepe Beach

The following photograph is of the same locality, at high tide in 2017, with increased erosion visible.

The coast near Inchmery House, east of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen on the 16th April 2017, with a marked increase in erosion since 2004

Comparison of earlier (2004) and later (2017) photographs show that there has significant retreat of the cliff, and in this area, several trees and tree roots are overhanging. The 2004 photograph clearly indicates that erosion had started, or restarted in this area, because that is the reason for the good exposure of the clays of the Headon Hill Formation. Presumably, at some past time, the posts which have survived in the sea marked an old shoreline or cliffline. So the erosion was probably taking place here before 2004. A recent factor has probably been the major storm of 2014, probably about a 1 in 60 years storm. It was quite serious and caused major erosion and overhanging trees at other places (see details re east of Pitts Deep in the Lymington webpage).

Grass and soil have fallen from the low cliff near Inchmery House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, with Ian West in the picture

Cliff erosion, exposing tree roots, on the north coast of the West Solent, east of Inchmery House, ner Lepe Beach, Hampshire, March 2017

A bullet probably from the Second World War, found on the beach near Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017, and probably fired into the greenish sandy clay of the Headon Hill Formation

Incidently, as shown above, a bullet was found at beach here and it seems, from the fill and encrustation, to have come out from the greenish clay of Headon Hill Formation, which is present in the lower part of the cliffs. Perhaps it relates to the use of Inchmery House in the Second World War to train Polish parachuters who were to dropped behind the lines, shortly before D-Day. The house had a firing range when it was being used for this military purpose but I do not know site of the former range. See webpages online and the book by Leete (2004), The New Forest at War. However, only one bullet was found by the collector with the metal dectector and this tends to suggest that this was not the firing range. (after the war I used to shoot regularly on firing ranges with 303 rifles and there were numerous bullets left around). Perhaps this single bullet relates to an individual shooting event. Anyway it is just speculation!

A zigzag pattern of timber sea defences to the west of the Watch House at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen in 2017, when shingle was accumulating

[next photos, same place, two dates - go right for comparison picture!]

Comparative photographs showing eastward movement and build up of flint shingle west of the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Build-up of shingle on the west side of the Watch House, Lepe Beach shows that the flint shingle is moving eastward by longshore drift. This direction would be normal on the open sea coasts of Hampshire and Dorset. The major storms come in from the southwest. However, within the West Solent the matter is more complex. Significant wave action can come into this area from the Hurst Spit direction (in the west) or from the Portsmouth and Spithead direction in the southeast. The recent accumulation flint pebbles on the west side of the Watch House, so great that they are covering the Carboniferous Limestone rock armour, is a clear indication of storm wave action from the southwest.

Study of aerial photographs from recent years indicates that Needs Ore Point is not appreciable extending eastward, as might be expected, but has actually shortened in recent years. Saltmarsh near the mouth of the Beaulieu River estuary has probably given some limited protection to the shore but the Spartina marshes are now in decline. Therefore, it would seem that wave action by southwesterly waves is increasing in the Lepe Beach area. This is not surprising because of loss of salt marshes and increased coastal erosion in the Tanners Lane - Pitts Deep area futher west, near Lymington. The West Solent is progressively changing from a relatively protected estuary to a more open branch of the sea. Hurst Spit at the western mouth of the Solent is no longer the strong barrier that it once was. It is largely artificial now and and from time to time is overwashed and flatenned by storms (except for the end area with the castle). If this spit is lost the erosion of the West Solent would be severe. In any case with gradual loss of Spartina marshes it is becoming more of a relatively open branch of sea. This is not favourable to land areas on the northern coast of the West Solent.

Thermokarst involutions formed during the melting of the frozen soil in the late Pleistocene, near Inchmery, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

The Peistocene thermokarst unit of distorted gravel and sand, near Inchmery House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

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The Eroding, Curved Shingle Bank at Inchmery

(See Google Earth for Inchmery)

Changes in the curved shingle bank, Horseshoe Spit, at Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, from 1999 to 2014 as shown by GE

A view landward towards Lepe Beach at Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, from the end of the long, seaward, shingle spit, Horseshoe Spit, June 2014

The shingle bank in front of Inchmery House, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen in 2006 with the eroded remains of Spartina saltmarshes, middle-distance view towards the east

Looking eastward at the now-depleted, Inchmery Shingle Beach, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 22nd June 2017

Compare the two above photographs both taken at the same place and in the same direction by Ian West, one in 2006 and one in 2017. The shingle bank has been eroded in front and is less of a feature in 2017 than in 2006. Some of the shingle has moved eastward, by 2017, almost to the small (and now eroding) headland at the site of photography

Another view of the formerly-wide shingle beach in front of Inchmery House, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen in 2006 before it was narrowed

The shingle bank in front of Inchmery House, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, seen in 2006 when it was a wide feature, ending westward at this point

The shingle beach in front of Inchmery House, formed by shingle transport from east to west, was very wide in 2006. Now, in 2017, however, it is much narrower. It does, however, extend much further west. When very wide it was restricted by salt-marshes which have since declined. Some photographs and diagrams below illustrate part of the history of this bank.

The outward-curving shingle beach, near Inchmery House, east of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, as seen on the 1st May 2017, when partially eroded

The small shingle bank near Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, is being eroded to some extent, photograph 1st May 2017

The remains of the curved shingle bank near Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire in May 2017, and a hypothetical, explanatory, cross-section

Erosion cuts a miniature cliff and reveals the flint pebbles in the small shingle bank at Inchmery  House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

An oblique view of the remains of the curved shingle beach in front of Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

Small washover fans developed as the shingle beach retreats landwards over a small marsh at Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 1st May 2017

The photograph above mostly show the shingle beach in front of Inchmery House in 2017 when it had already retreated by almost half its former seaward extent. Examine the Google Earth images to see the differnce from 1999 to 2015. There has been much loss of saltmarsh and landward retreat of the low shingle beach here. This will, of course, continue until the beach is in contact with the former cliff line. After that some cliff erosion, not necessarily great, may take place.

This small spit can be seen on aerial photographs as a curving shingle bank seaward of Inchmery House, west of Lepe Beach. This formerly ended in a westward direction in the Spartina saltmarsh not far west of the house. However, now, like other saltmarshes of this type it is very much in decline. The curved spit is a relatively new feature (probably post 1900 and is front of (ie. seaward) of the old, pre-1900 cliff. The cliff is not appreciably degraded and vegetated but has more-or-less retained its slope. If the spit continues to be eroded then the sea will be in contact with the cliff again in front of Inchmery House. This not necessarily mean that it will be subject to major erosion, because there is spit development offshore in the Needs Ore Point area. If the spits continue to enlarge there, then there will be at least some protection from wave action. Just how erosion and deposition might take place in the future are not yet known. Some interpretation might be made but it would be very approximate.

A transition point from Beaulieu River shore facies to Lepe Beach shore facies, at a small headland west of Inchmery House, Lepe Beach Hampshire

The area of former saltmarshes at the shore, half a kilometre west of Inchmery House, near Lepe Beach, Beaulieu River estuary, Hampshire, seen on the 22nd June 2017, after die-back, degradation and erosion

Above is the saltmarsh in severe decline, almost destroyed, about half a kilometre west of Inchmery House.

For more on this, see the:

The geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary (an associated webpage)


Pleistocene Gravel West of Lepe - continued
- Channels of Finer Sediment?


Argillaceous sand in a possible channel within the Pleistocene gravels, west of Lepe Beach, Hampshire


Unusual channel of gleyed argillaceous sand in the Pleistocene gravel of Brownwich Cliff, northeast of Hill Head, Hampshire, Solent coast

At the western end of the gravel cliff exposure, between Lepe House and Inchmery House there is a strange laminated sand, with gley features (mottled colours). It seems to be in the upper part of the gravel. It closely resembles a channel of similar laminated sand with gley features that occurs in the same gravel terrace on the other side of Southampton Water at Brownwich Cliff, to the northwest of Hill Head. Both features have marked lamination at the base. At the latter locality it is beneath an attentuated Brickearth. It thus seems to be at that locality a Pleistocene deposit that originated in a channel with lower water velocity than is usual for the gravel deposits. The details of the Lepe example need confirmation, because, in spite of the similarity, it is just possible that it is a relic of a Holocene stream channel. Further study is needed.

See also Reynolds (1987) , who discussed a brickearth at Lepe that is penultimate in the sequence from bottom to top. Note, however, that the suggested pre-Devensian age for this sediment at the top of the Upper Gravel is not widely accepted.


Lepe House, the Beach, Comparison from Old Photographs


Lepe House in 1913, showing an apparently stable shingle beach and with no cliff erosion taking place, Lepe, Hampshire

An old photograph of Lepe House, with the timber, V-shaped sea defences, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

The photographs above are of Lepe House, formerly the Ship Inn. This lies on the same Pleistocene gravel terrace as Inchmery House and other parts of the Lepe coast. In 1913 the beach was of shingle and with some sand. It was a low angle with a low timber fence at the top. There were no sea-defences and no erosion of the cliff was taking place. Some small trees were growing on the sloping, degraded cliff. It may have been active, perhaps 50 or a hundred years before. The present coastal erosion problems did not exist in 1913.


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The Coastguard Cottages and the Watch House were built in 1828 to prevent smuggling. The cottages are on high ground and well back from the old cliff. Thus they are not at risk from hurricanes and coast erosion. The Watch House, projecting into the sea was constructed soon after the "Great Gale" of 1824, a hurricane causing deaths around the south coast (although this was bad it was not as severe as the 1703 event which changed the West Solent significantly). Thus the Watch House, on a projection into the sea, has never been under really severe attack by the sea. It has needed coastal protection, though, and this has been added recently, largely in the form of rock armour.

If you examine the adjacent rock armour you will find that it includes some Portland Stone. This, which was probably the first dumped here, contains includes oolitic Portland Stone and some shelly Roach. The scallop-like bivalve, Camptonectes lamellosus can be side on the side of some blocks. There are numerous oysters, in some cases, attached so as to form incipient oyster reefs. West of the Watch House, blocks of Carboniferous Limestone have been added in more recent years. The Carboniferous Limestone is more generally used now than Portland Stone for sea defence purposes, and there is a significant amount at Hurst Spit. Larvikite, the dark does not seem to have been used here.

At Lepe, Hampshire, a view eastward towards the Watch House, and showing the old cliff, still fairly steep but overgrown, 2nd May 2017

The east side of the Watch House, Lepe, Hampshire, with part of the coastguard cottages, a hill behind it, 18th August 2017

Seat defences, both timber and concrete, just east of the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 18th August 2017

There are contrasting timber and concrete sea defences, just to the east of the Watch House. The strong concrete structures are probably mainly to defend the coast road from flooding. They also give protection so as to prevent erosion taking place towards the Coastguard cottages. This is a rather unnatural, artificial piece of coast, but it is quite short and probably necessary.

Rock Armour of Carboniferous Limestone near the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Large solitary corals of Caninia type in rock armour near the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

A cross-section of a coral of Siphonophyllia or Caninia type in Carboniferous Limestone, rock armour at the Watch House, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Red siltstone filling an extensional fissure system in Carboniferous Limestone rock armour at Lepe Beach, Hampshire (neptunean dyke)

The Carboniferous Limestone rock armour is present alongside the low footpath. Blocks of this quarried and hard, rock type extends from here in a westward direction for about 100 metres. It is present both landward of the path and on the shore in front. The Carboniferous Limestone rock armour has been emplaced later than the Portland Stone in this area because it is a tougher and less porous limestone. Larvikite from Scandinavia is often used now in places as a very tough resistant rock armour; however it is dark bluish-grey, hard and splintery and does not have a good appearance of the southern England coasts.

The Carboniferous Limestone is more interesting because it contains various early Carboniferous (Mississipian) marine fossils. Large solitary corals of 'Caninia' type (now Siphonophillia)are the most conspicuous. There are also some productid brachiopods and corals. The blocks of Carboniferous Limestone rock armour have been brought in from the Mendip Hills, probably from the Foster Yeoman Torr Works Quarry at Merehead, East Cranmore, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. This is the source of Carboniferous Limestone rock armour at Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire Lewis, Donovan and Sawford (2003). It is transported by both rail and road into the region. For more on the Carboniferous Limestone blocks at Barton see the Barton coast erosion webpage. Interesting fossil material from this rock armour at Barton has been described by Lewis et al. (2003).


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17a. Stone-Point - General, Introduction

The main car park at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, is on a bank of flint shingle with with the old cliff at the back

Stone Point and the car park at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, showing forming location of the Dark Water outflow

This is the main, car park and visitor area of Lepe Beach at Stone Point, a major promontory of flint shingle. The Lepe Country Park is on the cliff top above. At the back of the beach, and below the level of the cliff top, there are toilets, a cafe and a shop, useful facilities. The western part of the low, shore car park was not originally a beach but it was formerly the location where the Dark Water stream flowed out to sea. This stream now flows out just east of the Watch House and there is a road bridge accross it. This remained the situation until early in the 19th century when a new opening was made in about the middle of the valley. The old, former eastern opening near Stone Point, had, earlier, been the result of deflection of the stream channel by flint shingle moving eastward, i.e. from the Inchmery area, by longshore drift. Examination of old maps suggest that this would have taken place in the 18th century or before. The deflection might well have been associated with the great hurricane of 1703 (Daniel Defoe's "Storm"). The former site of the stream channel is the low ground where the cafe, shop and toilets are now situated.

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17b. Stone-Point, Pleistocene Gravel - Introduction


Pleistocene gravel cliff at central to east Lepe Beach, Hampshire, seen in June 2014, after storms from the previous winter have caused significant erosion

Details of the Pleistocene gravel in the low gravel terrace in the lower part of the eroded cliff, in front of the Country Park, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 18th August 2017

Typical subangular flint pebbles at Lepe Beach, Hampshire


At Stone Point the coast turns seaward forming in a small, curved, gentle promontary. There is a beach area, at about 3m. above sea-level, and part of this has been converted into a car park. At the back of this and the adjacent area the with low cliffs, about 5m. high, of Pleistocene subangular flint gravel. Some small buildings at the landward side of the car park, are actually seaward of the cliff.

After the old Dark Water channel was abandoned here, the beach seems to have built up with the local shingle, derived from the Pleistocene gravel. In the past shingle could have come from the cliffs of the Lepe House and Inchmery area. Sea defences with rock armour just to the west of the Watch House now ensure that the supply is cut off, at least from a westerly direction. The groynes here do not show a marked direction of longshore drift, and the location seems almost nodal and like Browndown (east across the Solent) on a more limited scale. However, lack of resupply of shingle from the west suggests that depletion may occur at the car park in due course. There has not been major erosion at the main part of the car park, though, in recent years, but it is now commencing to the east of the car park. The gravel footpath at the foot of the old cliffs has now largely gone as a result of coast erosion.

At the back of the car park are old cliffs dating from the 18th century. They are rather degraded but still quite recognisable as cliffs. They are not yet undergoing erosion again, except to the east, as mentioned above. The eastern part is providing some good geological exposures, but is not (by 2017) further exposing the Pleistocene Interglacial deposits, which are discussed elsewhere in this webpage.

The outlook regarding erosion is not necessarily favourable, at least in the long term. The low, beach car park at Lepe might be attacked by the sea, during a rare, major storm. The cafe and other buildings are useful facilities but they are at a very low level, only a little above the beach. Sea-level is slowly rising and erosion of the adjacent cliff has increased.


Western Solent in a storm, as seen from Stone Point

Hurst Castle seen as a mirage from Lepe Beach

Subangular flint pebble beach with Turnstones, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Pleistocene gravel at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

A low terrace of Pleistocene gravel was originally exposed in the cliffs on the east side of Lepe. This is the "Upper Gravel" and is the main gravel sheet visible on the coast in this region. The top surface of the gravel is about 7m above sea-level and the base is about the present high-tide level, although usually obscured by beach material etc. Sea-defences and growth of vegetation have reduced the exposure, but there has been no erosion and new exposure recently. A small pit in the low cliff east of the car park provides an exposure and there are some others of limited size. In the area of occurrence of the Interglacial deposit discussed below, there is a more localised and older "Lower Gravel". This is not normally seen here except in trial pits and in borehole samples.


New Erosion at Lepe Beach, in front of the Country Park.

Before the recent erosion at part of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, in front of the Country Park and east of the beach car park and facilites, 11th March 2004

Evidence of recent erosion at part of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, in front of the Country Park and east of the beach car park and facilities, 18th August 2017

Compare the photograph of 2017 with the photograph of 2004. Observe the substantial coastal retreat, and also the severe damage to timber groynes. There has been quite severe erosion here, in front of the Country Park. It probably took place in the 2014 storm (or storms), but this is not confirmed. Beach cafe, toilet facilities etc are at a relatively low level, just above that of the lower, beach car park. They are really not very far above above high spring tides tides. They are quite clear of problems in normal conditions. The facilities survived the 2014 storm, so a repeat of that might not be a severe risk. However, when the more serious, 1824-type storm reappears (or even worse - the 1703 type hurricane) the likelyhood of damage or destruction could, however, be high. Although it is obvious that there will be a problem, just how severe will be the effects is not known. [Note that the Lepe Beach Watch House was built after the 1828 storm; it has never been under severe attack; it is now protected by rock armour.

Unfortunately, Hurst Spit is not reliable now as a strong barrier (except in part at the rock armour) and does not guarantee protection. The northwestern shore of the West Solent in general is rapidly losing its saltmarshes (with much death of Spartina), now it has a narrowed intertidal belt and it has significant cliff erosion in places. It is likely to be progressing, over a long period of time, into the "West Solent Bay" (i.e. the next bay like Christchurch Bay). It is losing its sheltered estuarine characteristics (not in a regular manner but erratically during severe storms). That the process will continue from time to time seems obvious; but the time-scale is, of course, unknown. No-one can predict great storms and hurricanes and the rare tsunami and, of course, no predictions are made here. The big events of the transgressing English Channel may occur at long time intervals.

The photograph above show the extent of loss of beach shingle east of Stone Point. There has been much recent erosion in this short stretch. The timber wall has been broken through in places. The raised gravel of the footpath has gone, and the path has been officially closed.

Pleistocene Gravel History at Lepe Beach

A Pleistocene gravel cliff east of the beach car park and Stone Point, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 18th August 2017

Pleistocene gravel, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, east of the beach car park and below the Country Park area, 18th August 2017

Excavation in the Upper Gravel of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, with Martin Bates

The pit shown here is for the most part in the Upper Gravel but extends down into a Lower Gravel which has a reddened surface. The pit was excavated in 2004 for the research project - PASHCC - Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Sussex/Hampshire Coastal Corridor, a project supported by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (administered by English Heritage, English Nature and the Countryside Agency). (Project team: Martin Bates, Francis Wenban-Smith, Rebecca Briant, and Gilbert Marshall.)

Much better exposures of the gravel (the main gravel or "Upper Gravel" of Lepe Beach) can be seen about 1 km west of the main Lepe shore park, near Inchmery House. See the separarate section on this area. The Upper Gravel has been overlies the Ipswichian interglacial deposit near Stone Point, Lepe and thus a Devensian (late Pleistocene) age is implied. The PASHCC research dated it as of about 65 ka (thousand years).

Reynolds (1987) identified two superimposed layers of 'brickearth' overlying the Lepe Upper Gravel at Stone Point, the lower of which contains palaeoargillic features that imply interglacial pedogenesis.

Summarising, a small river or stream valley was cut during the Wolstonian glacial phase when sea-level was low and the "Lower Gravel" was deposited. During the (following) Ipswichian Interglacial the ice melted and sea rose to a little above its present level. At this phase the interglacial estuarine some dark muds and peat were deposited. In the last glacial phase which followed (the Devensian) sea-level fell once more and the English Channel was dry. Then the periglacial river gravel, the widespread, Upper Gravel was deposited over the interglacial deposits. The main gravel deposits commonly seen in the low cliffs of the Lepe coast also elsewhere in the Solent are thus Devensian or late Pleistocene.

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17c. Stone Point - Pleistocene Interglacial Deposits


Location of the Ipswichian Interglacial deposit near Stone Point, Lepe, Hampshire

Peaty clay of the interglacial deposit beneath the beach near Stone Point, Lepe, Hampshire

Pieces of the Ipswichian Interglacial mud deposit near Stone Point, Lepe, Hampshire

Estuarine mud with <I>Hydrobia</I>from the interglacial deposit of Lepe Beach, Hampshire

A Pleistocene interglacial deposit of clay and peat occurs at the eastern end of the Lepe Beach car park, and just to the west of Stone Point. It is quite well-known and it is notable for containing elephant remains. This sediment originated as estuarine mud and marshy peat in the Ipswichian Interglacial, the last major interglacial of the Ice Age. It has been much studied, particularly with regard to pollen, plant macrofossils and gastropods. Like the Holocene estuarine deposits of the Solent, it also contains coccoliths which have not yet been studied systematically. The deposit has been related to similar sediments at Selsey further east. Ipswichian Interglacial muds with bison bones occur at Newtown Estuary on the Isle of Wight, not far to the southwest.

The muds and peat near Stone Point are only erratically exposed depending on wave and storm conditions. They are under the sloping foreshore and are often hardly visible at all. Look for signs of grey mud or muddy sand in the last groyne box, eastward, of the car park and the next groyne box beyond. Occasionally the sand and gravel is swept away by waves and the black peat is obvious. The Interglacial deposits have been mapped using augers by Brown et al. (1975) but seem to extend only for about 50 metres or 100m laterally. A visitor expecting a large and clearly exposed deposit is likely to be disappointed, but favourable erosion conditions in the future might reveal more. It can easily be dug into or encountered in boreholes. An early account reported that the deposit was in part beneath the Pleistocene gravel of the low cliff. Because of retreat of the cliff it is now only to be found on the foreshore.

Interglacial mud west of Stone Point, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, June 2004

On the 4 June 2004 the interglacial mud was rather more satisfactorily exposed than previously. This is shown in the photograph above. Keith Talbot considered that its distribution beneath the beach is to some extent indicated by the occurrence of the modern lug-worm, as opposed to the more-widespread rag-worm in the intertidal beach at Lepe.


The fossiliferous Pleistocene deposit at Lepe was first noticed by Clement Reid (1893). He had already studied the Pleistocene interglacial deposits of the Selsey Penisula, Sussex (Clement Reid, 1892) and realised that these 'mud deposits' underlie the local low-lying and implement-bearing, late Pleistocene gravels (which are now considered as Devensian in age - i.e. from the last glacial, the last part of the Pleistocene Ice Age). The interglacial deposits are now generally considered to be mainly estuarine sediments of the Ipswichian (last) Interglacial, although the matter is not simple and recent papers on the subject, such as that of Brown et al. (1975), should be studied for details.

"The new locality for the 'mud-deposit' is the foreshore at Stone [this rather than 'Lepe' is used as a general term for the area and does not necessarily imply Stone Point], three miles south of the village of Fawley, and of the same distance from the entrance to Southampton Water [Calshot]; it is consequently 20 miles west of the patches already known. The mass of tenaceous Scrobicularia-clay, now visible at Stone, may have been observed by other geologists, but I can find no record of it.... Opposite the spot where the clay is seen, a low cliff marks the seaward edge of the great gravel-plateau of the New Forest [although this is comprised of several gravel terraces of different ages, the highest being the oldest]...

After a short search, however, I found the broken end of an elephant's tusk projecting from the clay and covered in seaweed... A box of the clay was taken to London for examination, and the results showed that the deposit contains a fauna and flora identical, so far as it goes, with that of the upper 'mud deposit' of Selsey. The species obtained were the following:

Fauna -

Elephas, elephant (portion of nearly straight tusk) [note that the tusks of Mammuthus, were normally curved.]
Helix pulchella Mull. [land snail]
Melampus myosotis Draparnaud [Myosotella myosotis (Draparnaud 1801) - the European melampus, a gastropod]
Hydrobia similis Drap. [small aquatic gastropod of a species now only occurring in the Thames]
Hydrobia ulvae Pen. [small gastropod]
Hydrobia ventrosa Mont. [small gastropod]
Cardium edule Linn. [the common cockle - a shallowing burrowing bivalve]
Scrobicularia piperata Belon [Scrobicularia is a large burrowing bivalve common in recent estuarine mud, as at Fawley]

Flora -

Ranunculus sceleratus Linn. [Ranunculus is the Buttercup]
Ranunculus repens Linn [Creeping Buttercup]
Rubus fruticosus Linn. [the common Bramble - blackberry]
Acer monspessulanum Linn [South European maple - not at present native to Britain]
Quercus robur Linn. [Oak tree]
Atriplex patula Linn. [Spreading Orache - a common saltplant or chenopod]
Zannichellia palustris Linn. [Horned Pondweed]
Carex riparia? Curtis [Great Pond Sedge]
Phragmites [the common tall reed of marshes and swamps in England]

... The plants are all species found at Selsey or West Wittering, but among them is one of great interest, for it distinctly points to a mild period. The fruit of the South European maple, Acer monspessulanum, occurs not uncommonly in the Scrobicularia-clay both at Selsey and at Stone (Lepe). Both the maple and the oak point to a mild climate, very unlike that of the cold periods which seem to have preceded and succeeded the deposition of the Scrobicularia-clays.

Overlying the fossiliferous clays just described is a mass of sub-angular flint-gravel like that of Selsey, but less worn, for Stone [Lepe] is a more sheltered locality [note that the pebbles at Medmerry , for example, on the Selsey peninsula have been battered on a beach and are quite rounded. The Lepe gravel is much like the subangular fluvial gravel widespread on New Forest gravel terraces and also at Hill Head and other places]. At the base of this gravel [at Lepe Beach] I found two or three waste flint flakes, lying immediately above the mass of clay; but no good implements were seen at this spot. About a mile and half to the southeast, however, [in Stanwoods Bay near Nelson's Place, see note on old map above] a Palaeolithic flake-knife was dug out of the undisturbed gravel about 18 inches from the base, the gravel being about 15 feet thick."

Reid provided illustrations of the cliff and of the flake-knive. In the discussion at the end of the paper, Dr. Hicks pointed out that the interesting find of a flint-implement in the stratified gravel shows that man lived in the area before the changes indicated by the deposits set in. However, human remains have not, as far as I know, been found in the Ipswichian Interglacial deposits of this region, although they have in the Hoxnian Interglacial raised beach at Boxgrove, Sussex.

A study of the Ipswichian interglacial deposit at Stone Point near Lepe Beach was made by West and Sparks (1960) . Pollen analysis shows that brackish water deposits, below present high tide level were formed in zone f of the Ipswichian Interglacial. The zones b, c, d and e detected at Selsey were not found here. In zone f at Stone Point the conditions were relatively warm with oak (Quercus), pine (Pinus), and maple (Acer) as the chief trees forming the forest. The macroscopic plant remains and the Mollusca indicate that the deposit was formed under saltmarsh conditions. The authors thought that as at Selsey, the gravel apparently overlying the interglacial deposit was marine and is related to the same marine transgression that produced the brackish water conditions. However, as noted by Brown et al. (1975) , there is no obvious evidence that the gravels are marine, and the subangular character of the pebbles and the small channels suggest a periglacial fluvial origin like that of the many other similar gravel deposits.

Location of shallow borehole at Stone Point, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Shallow borehole at Stone Point, Lepe Beach, Hampshire - lithology and pollen


The interglacial deposit at Stone Point, Lepe Beach is the broad equivalent of one at Selsey Bill. The deposits are divided into various zones. Conditions were very different from the rather cold, almost treeless Zone b, with scattered birch and pine, to the relatively warm oak forests of Zone f . At Lepe it is the Zone f which has left a record (West and Sparks, 1960) . We can consider the probable vertebrate life of the "Proto-New Forest" in the Ipswichian Interglacial in general by listing the remains known from both Stone Point and from Selsey Bill. The latter locality includes Zones b through to Zone f, though, so the list below is for a variety of climatic phases of the Ipswichian Interglacial in this area. Conditions were quite similar to those at present in Zone f, and the abnormal absence of the elephant and rhinoceras etc from the New Forest now is not the result of an unsuitable climate; it may indeed be too warm now for the mammoth but some thin-furred elephants could tolerate the present conditions. The loss, about 10,000 years ago is perhaps the result of some combination of human activity, post-glacial warming and the recent flooding of the English Channel. Still, it is fortunate that man still allows the horse (the lighter relative of the rhinoceras) and fallow deer to survive in the New Forest, and presumably the cow replaces the bison in ecological terms. Here is the list:

Elephant - straight-tusked at Stone (Elephant remains in general are fairly common. They are known in the Ipswichian Interglacial deposits from both Stone Point and Selsey. Tusks have also found twice in undated, probably Devensian, gravels at Ibsley in the Avon Valley, and teeth in older gravels at Southampton. Late Pleistocene elephant remains are also found at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, in the Dewlish elephant bed, Dorset, and at other places).
Rhinoceras - Dicerorhinus hemitoechus (Falconer) - a two-horned rhinoceras, from Selsey.
Rhinoceras - Rhinoceras sp., from Selsey
Hippopotamus - Hippopotamus sp., from Selsey
A large deer-like mammal (cervid), either the Elk Alces sp. or the giant deer Megaceros sp.
Horse - Equus from Selsey
Fallow deer Dama sp., from Stone Point and Selsey
(Bison - bones are common in the equivalent deposit at Newtown Bay, Isle of Wight)

See Sutcliffe in West and Sparks (1960) for the original list, and some distribution data in terms of zones.


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17d. Stone Point - Blocks on the Shore at Stone Point

(Bembridge Limestone and other Blocks).

Bembridge Limestone blocks on the shore near Stone Point, Hampshire


Blocks of Bembridge Limestone with conspicuous fossil shells of Galba longiscata (a late Eocene pond-snail) are common on the low-tide shore at Lepe Beach. This rock (known in the past as Binstead Stone) has been much used in old buildings and in the walls of Southampton. It is not as strong and resistant as Portland Stone or Carboniferous Limestone from the Mendips so it is not in general use now. Portland Stone often with some Purbeck Stone has been much used in modern sea-defences as at Lepe and elsewhere, but Carboniferous Limestone from near Frome is now much favoured for rock armour and is a recent addition to the shore. The Bembridge Limestone is probably from very old sea-defences, piers or buildings. It is probably not of special significance that blocks occur at the end of the Roman road because they are also present westward to at least the outfall of the Dark Water.

In addition there are many blocks of cement, some with a rounded or sack-like exterior. There is some concrete with obvious flints. Some Purbeck and Portland stone occurs particularly near the Dark Water outfall and the Watch House. Many of these are probably derived from old sea-walls or small jettys.

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Horseshoe Spit is a low-tide, transverse estuarine spit or tidal bar, West Solent, Hampshire, England.


Horseshoe Spit, in the West Solent estuary near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, England, a transverse spit of reworked, Pleistocene, flint shingle, as seen in a modified aerial view by the Channel Coastal Observatory

A closer aerial photograph of Horseshoe Spit, a transverse tidal bar or spit of shingle at Stansore Point, West Solent estuary, Lepe, Solent, Hampshire, seen at low tide, and with pipelines nearby

Horseshoe Spit, in the West Solent estuary near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, a transverse spit of shingle seen at a low, but rising tide, 18th August 2017

A view landward towards Lepe Beach at Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, from the end of the long, seaward, shingle spit, Horseshoe Spit, June 2014

Departing from the end of Horseshoe Spit, a transverse spit or bar in the West Solent estuary, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire

People leave Horse Spit, the transverse estuarine spit of shingle, east of Stone Point, Lepe, as the tide rises

Horseshoe Spit is an estuarine transverse spit, a tidal bar of medium shingle just to the west of Stansore Point, near Lepe, West Solent. It is really half-way between Stone Point and Stansore Point and is shown on the Ordnance Survey map. It is roughly at right angles to the shore, but it has some curvature (the tip curves eastward), that probably accounts for its name. This name is used by Bruce (2008). This is an unusual spit, not formed by wave action, by tidal currents. It is low and submerged at high tide. It is composed of medium-sized, flint-pebble shingle, but without large pebbles. It is thus finer than some components of the Pleistocene gravel. It is well-sorted. The tide does not rise particularly fast or high here, but people must leave the spit as soon as the water starts to creep up.


[see also: Bowskill (1990)
This is a legend, very improbable, but perhaps suggesting that the transverse spit was at least once a somewhat larger feature: "Lepe House is to the westward of the leading line, and almost next door coastguard cottages are to the eastward. Here is also the shingle beach where the mini-river, the Darkwater runs out. Tradition has it that there used to be causeway on which one could keep dry feet all the way to the Isle of Wight. In the middle was a narrow channel requiring no more than a "leap" by man or horse; hence the name."
There is a transverse spit present now at low tide, and extending out, at right angles to the shore, between Stone Point and Stansore Point. However, it will not take you far towards the Isle of Wight! A larger one might have been developed in the past, but there does not seem to be any evidence of this.]

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(Stansore Point to Stanwood Bay)


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18a. Beach at Stansore Point and Northeast

(Stansore Point and on Towards the Cadland Estate)


D-Day construction beach, northeast of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, walking over the pebbles and sand in 2017

D-Day, Normandy Invasion, launching Beach, at Stansore Point, east of Lepe. Hampshire, 18th August 2017

Old dolphin structures northeast of Stansore Point near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, that were used for the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944

Dolphins, part of the launching facilities for the caissons for D-Day, Stansore Point,  Lepe, Hampshire, 18th August, 2017


Washover fans from a shingle beach at Stansore Point, east of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, aerial photograph, Channel Coastal Observatory, 2001

A washover fan of shingle north of Stansore Point, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, 3rd January 2010

Washover fans of shingle are well-developed in places at the back of the shingle beach at Stansore Point. The orientation of the washovers seems to indicate that the storm waves responsible came from the south or south-south-west. These fans are unvegetated and, therefore, not of any great age. They may be the effect of breaches in the shingle bank which took place in this area in 1991, according to the New Forest District Council (2004).

(For further information see: New Forest Coastal Management Plan, February 2004. C7, Zone 7: North West Solent Shore. Available on the internet at: North West Solent Shore. ). See the following comment:

"Similarly, the shingle beach north of Stansore Point is relatively unstable despite the timber groynes and revetments that have been constructed. The beach was breached extensively in 1991, resulting in damage to the cross Solent Isle of Wight gas mains. Parts of the heavily wooded foreshore, which forms part of Cadland Estate, have been lost over the last 50 years."

. 18a. Caisson Construction for D-Day

(Stansore Point, northeast towards the Cadland Nature Reserve and Estate)

The Mulberry Harbour construction area northeast of Lepe Beach, West Solent, Hampshire, showing little erosion, and a further part of Stanswood Bay showing major washover and storm damage, aerial photo 2004

The aerial photograph, above, courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory shows the main features of the Caisson Construction beach at and near Stansore Point, east of Lepe. (It also shows, in 2010, some extensive washover and storm damage of that date, beyond the Mulberry Harbour construction area of the 1940s, World War II).

A Council Notice Board at Stansore Point, east of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, that provides information on the construction of concrete Caissons, here on this beach, and also information on the invasion fuel pipeline

Work in progress on the construction of six caissons for D-Day at the beach northeast of Stanshore Point, Lepe, Hampshire in 1944


Caissons, still afloat, in Portland Harbour, Dorset, 2017

In the beach shingle - the remains of a steel and concrete ramp used for the launching of caissons which were constructed on the nearby beach for the D-Day Invasion, Stansore Point, Lepe, Hampshire, low tide, 18th August 2017

Stansore Point and Stanswood Bay consist of a storm Beach across an old estuary. Was the original name "Stans Ower" or "Stone Ower"? It is more notable than the other beaches at Lepe because it was used for construction of six caissons used to make an artificial harbour on the coast of Normandy during the D-day invasion.

In geomorphological terms it is a beach of reworked Pleistocene flint pebbles and it is retreating landwards. The remains of D-Day preparation work give an indication of the extent of retreat since 1944.


The D-Day Monument on the caisson-construction beach, northeast of Stansore Point, near Lepe, Hampshire

Details of the D-Day Monument on the caisson-construction beach, northeast of Stansore Point, near Lepe, Hampshire


The D-Day, Normandy Invasion, launching beach in Stanswood Bay near Lepe Beach, West Solent, Hampshire, January 2010

Erosion of D-Day structures in Stanswood Bay, north of Stansore Point, near Lepe Beach, Hampshire, in January 2010

Stansore Point near Lepe, Hampshire

On the 19th Century geological map shown above, the promontory which is now known as Stansore Point is marked as Stone Point. The name "Stone Point" seems to have been subsequently shifted westward a short distance to an even smaller promontory with a shingle spit that is close to the main Lepe Beach.

Landward of Stansore Point there is a small alluvium-filled estuary with some residual ponds. This is believed to have an open estuary in historic times, and it is likely that the shingle beach has built up across the mouth on Friday, the 25th of November in 1703, as at Bourne Gap. Accumulation of silt and development of marshes has naturally reclaimed the stretch of water behind it.

The height of a storm beach is controlled by the height of storm waves and the beach here is quite low, compared with say the shingle beach at Milford-on-Sea or Hurst Castle Spit. This is because wave action is limited in the sheltered waters of the Solent. In the unlikely event of the destruction of Hurst Castle Spit the larger waves of the open sea could reach this place and obviously there would be some erosion and coastal retreat. In addition the beach would change quite drastically and become higher.

At the present erosion seems quite limited here with a small amount shown in the photograph. There are some small washover fans where shingle has been washed back over onto the marsh sediments that lies to the landward side. There is no sign of rapid landward retreat, and in any case the promontory might be a potential area of shingle accretion (like Browndown on the other side of Southampton Water). If global warming produced a significant rise in sea-level the former estuary behind Stansore Point would probably begin to flood again, although with shallow water and marshes.


D-Day - Beach continued: - Dark Water Delta


A small intertidal delta of the Dark Water stream, at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, aerial photograph of the Channel Coastal Observatory, 2001

The Dark Water is a stream of about 5 km. in length draining from Beaulieu Heath in the southern part of the New Forest. It is presumably dark in colour because of a content of peaty organic matter from the New Forest soils. At Lepe it enters the sea a short distance to the east of the coastguard cottages and the Watch House. It is within a narrow valley that probably was once an estuary in its lower part. However that has been filled with sediment and the seaward part has been blocked by a road with a bridge and by a weir controlling the outflow of water. Although not very conspicuous on the ground, an aerial photograph of the Channel Coastal Observatory shows that there is an intertidal delta, marked out by darker sediments that those from the beaches. This delta is fairly symmetrical, probably because there is not a strongly developed direction of longshore drift here. Lepe Beach is open to both the West Solent and the East Solent or Spithead area. It is effectively a nodal point which is sometimes subjected to strong waves from the southwest and sometimes from the southeast. In addition to wave action there are strong tidal currents here, which have produced an offshore bar near Stone Point.

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20. LOCATION - Northeast To Bourne Gap


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From the D-Day Caisson, construction beach, east of Lepe Beach, Hampshire, a view towards the northeast across the Cadland Nature Reserve, with the trees that conceal Cadland House


There is access along the shore for a limited distance to the northeast from Stansore Point and the Caisson construction area discussed above. Then there is a barrier across the beach with a notice. Beyond is private land of the Cadland Estate belonging to the Drummond family. It is also a closed nature reserve and thus not accessible at all to the public.

This closed area has an interesting history. There follows a brief note from Coles (1963) sp. 29.

"It is not only Buckler's Hard as we know it that was once important, for eastward, at Bourne Gap, was the old port of Ourd (Owra) [or Ower?] which silted up in the November gale of 1703; and it was believed that there was another excellent harbour where nowadays the little stream called Dark Water runs into the sea. This harbour must have been more convenient than Southampton, particularly in the days when tacking was the strong point of sailing ships, and the beat up Southampton Water might have taken a long time."

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(A Dinosaur Footprint in Purbeck Stone, found by Keith Talbot and Richard Carpenter)

A good fossil footprint of a theropod type of dinosaur was discovered in a slab of Purbeck Stone on Lepe beach. It is a good clear specimen. It is the sharpness of the toe, perhaps with a claw, that is indicative of a therodod origin.

Please see the associated webpages:

Dinosaur footprints in Purbeck strata of the Isle of Portland, Dorset.

Durlston Bay and Peveril Point, Swanage - Purbeck strata, Lulworth and Durlston Formations.

Dinosaur footprints occur mainly in the Durlston Formation, not in abundance, but here and there. Good tracks of dinosaur footprints have been found in nearby quarries.

In spite of the fairly common occurrence at Swanage and nearby, it is peculiar and remarkable that an example should be found at Lepe Beach. It has obviously come from Swanage by boat, by how and why?


Location of dinosaur footprint slab, near Stone Point, Hampshire

Keith Talbot examines slab on beach, near Stone Point

There are various blocks of rock that are visible on the shore at Lepe Beach when the tide is very low. Others have been removed because they may useful in an area where stone blocks are not commonly available. Bembridge Limestone and some other rock types present here are discussed below. No evidence was found to indicate that these are erratics and they are associated with blocks of cement and some concrete. They have probably been brought here by human agency at various times, perhaps in connection with former sea-walls or buildings or as ship ballast. Some rock debris might possibly be connected with the presence of the Roman road, or perhaps with ancient stone transport to Beaulieu Abbey or other historic sites. Amongst these rocks on the low-tide shore a dinosaur footprint was found by Keith Talbot and Richard Carpenter in 1993. The photographs above show the position and the general environment. The slab has been kept in a garden fishpond since the date of discovery. It shows some minor effects of dissolution but does not include boring by marine organisms so it is unlikely that it has been in the sea for a very long period of time, although, of course, it could have been buried in mud.

Dinosaur footprint in Purbeck  limestone from Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Another view of the dinosaur footprint in Purbeck  limestone found at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Dinosaur footprint in Purbeck limestone found at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, with background removed from image

Comparison of fossil dinosaur footprint and the foot of a living ostrich, in relation to a slab of Purbeck stone found by Keith Talbot at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Dinosaur tracks found in the Middle Purbeck strata at Lock's Quarry, Acton, near Swanage, Dorset in 1967

The remarkable tridactlyl footprint was found in a slab of Purbeck stone between (the present) Stone Point and Stansore Point. The location was on the stony and muddy low tidal flats, west of Stansore Point and just on the western side of the supposed end of the Roman Road. Dinosaur footprints are present in the Middle Purbeck Building Stones of the Isle of Purbeck from Swanage westward. They also occur at the Purbeck type-section in Durlston Bay and at Worbarrow Bay. In Durlston Bay one would be unlikely to find such footprint without a search of thousands of slabs of Purbeck Stone. It is therefore very unusual to find such a slab near Stone Point where there is only a limited number of pieces of Purbeck stone. Searching and selection by humans from the rocks of the Isle of Purbeck has to have taken place at some stage and then the slab has to have been moved to Stone Point. It is not known how or when this happened. The occurrences of significant amounts of Purbeck stone in the Lepe Beach area are at three sites, sea-defence works near the Watch House, slabs at the outfall beneath the beacon of Stansore Point and in addition the isolated four blocks of Purbeck Marble discussed below. The dinosaur footprint was presumably brought to the Stone Point area during the transport of one of these shiploads of stone, but probably not that for the sea defences.

Original upper surface of the slab with a dinosaur footprint, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Ostracods and bivalve shells in Purbeck  limestone with dinosaur footprint found at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Gastropod and ostracods in biomicrite of the footprint slab, Lepe Beach, Hampshire

The slab is of ostracodal biomicrite with thin-shelled bivalves and gastropods, and with some chert. The small gastropod Valvata and the 'pond-snail' Viviparus appear to be present. There are some scattered, brown, phosphatic fish scales or teeth. The small (about 2 mm), oval, ostracods are often paired. The particular bed has not yet been firmly identified, but the limestone is of Cherty Freshwater Member type and is probably similar to that of bed DB103 of Clements Durlston Bay log. The comparison with bed will be investigated further. The footprint has relatively long and narrow toe impressions, and is like those sometimes referred to in textbooks as of theropod type. It is relatively large compared to the examples from the Lower Purbeck of the Isle of Portland, but quite normal in size for a Middle Purbeck footprint. Somewhat similar footprints have been found in the Middle Purbecks (Pink Bed of the Intermarine Member) at Locks Quarry, Acton near Swanage in 1967, as shown in a photograph above, although in these the central toe is rather longer and straighter.

On the 4 June 2004, more than 10 years after the initial discovery, another piece of the same type of limestone with ostracods, bivalves, Viviparus and chert was found on the west of Stone Point. It was noticed by Keith Talbot in the company of Maldwin Drummond, Gary Momber and Ian West. This triangular piece was highly etched by water, the chert suggesting that about 0.5 cm had been dissolved away on the outside.

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22. MISCELLANEOUS - Purbeck Marble Blocks on the Shore etc.

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A Shipwreck with Purbeck Marble found in 1938, and rediscovered in 2004.

Large blocks of Purbeck Marble are present on the shore. This is a limestone, that has been polished and used in churches and cathedrals etc, both, in Britain and across the English Channel or La Manche in Normandy. It is a limestone of freshwater gastropods, - Viviparus. It occurs only in Upper Purbeck or Durston Formation of Durlston Bay, Swanage, and the westward, inland continuation of the outcrop in the Isle of Purbeck. There is no natural occurrence in the Solent and, thus, it has necessarily been transported by ship from Swanage.

Blocks of Purbeck Marble from a old shipwreck, shown in an aerial photograph of west of Stansore Point, Lepe, Hampshire, 2001

The late Mr Maldwin Drummond, the author, landowner and former Official Verderer of the New Forest, visited the unusual blocks of Purbeck Marble at Lepe Beach, Hampshire in 20014

Rectangular blocks of Purbeck Marble, Hampshire


Remains of an old ship were discovered at Lepe in 1938. The report of the find, from an old "Echo" newspaper cutting found by Keith Talbot, is shown here. The text of the report is reproduced, but not all is clearly readible on the image shown above, and there is some doubt about a few words.

["Ship Discovery at Lepe - Sot'onians Walk on Remains of Deck - 1938

Shipwreck with Purbeck Marble at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, found in 1938

Captain Aubrey Story, managing director of the New Hippodrome, Southampton, who is spending the summer in the caravan site at Lepe and Peter Andrews who is also in the colony, were setting nets at low tide on Lepe foreshore when Capt. Story found that he was walking on remains of one deck of a ship submersed in the sand. They managed to dig out one of the ribs. This gave a clue as to the size of the ship which was roughly hewn and had wooden pegs attached to it. Captain Story told an "Echo" reporter. So far as I can trace no one in the district knew anything about the wreck which was still covered by several inches of water when we found it.
"During the last few days [tides ??] have been unusually low and it was at the extreme edge of the water that we found the wreck. Under the planking which seems to be part of a deck there was a quantity of stone which had been worked and some pieces of marble in the rough. "From what we could see before the tide hid the wreck it is a sort of [ship?] with a beam of about twenty feet. When the tide is low enough again we are going to do a bit more exploring." ]


More recently, in early 2004, four large blocks of Purbeck Marble were found just west of Stansore Point (the original Stone Point), near Lepe Beach by Keith Talbot and Ian West when searching the area at low spring tide. We were not looking for the ship remains but came across the relics by chance. The stones certainly seem to be the remains of the old shipwreck, initially discovered in 1938. Keith found some old timber nearby, although that may or may not have been related. It mostly seems now to be just large stone blocks and little else. They are scoured by the very strong tidal currents just here. Some details of the marble slabs are shown in photographs taken at the time. The Purbeck marble blocks are just offshore of land which owned by Mr Maldwin Drummond, owner of the Cadland Estate. This is private land but with a footpath on the shore from Lepe Country Park. The area is patrolled by rangers from the Country Park.

As noted above, the remains of the ship when first found in 1938 still included some timber decking. Most or all of this now seems to have been destroyed. Captain Story reported the presence of "marble" and it is not clear whether he recognised this, at the time, as Purbeck Marble, a gastropod limestone - not real marble, but he might have done so. He mentioned some worked stone in addition to the "marble" blocks (although this might refer to worked Purbeck marble). There is a remote possibility that the dinosaur footprint found by Keith Talbot in a nearby area was once part of this stone cargo.

After we had rediscovered the wreck in 2004, the marine archaeologist Gary Momber made a limited excavation at low tide but he was unable to find any timber or anything of particular significance. As far as I know the remains of the wreck remain without further investigation. It is a difficult site that is under water except in very low, spring tides. Even then, little time is available to examine before it is once again covered with water. The wreck remains undated. Some photographs and further notes on the Purbeck marble follow.


Blocks of Purbeck Marble at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Purbeck marble blocks with rising tide at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Rectangular blocks of Purbeck Marble, Lepe Beach, Hampshire, views with scale

Partially buried block of Purbeck Marble at Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Various views are provided above of four rectangular blocks of limestone which were found by Ian West and Keith Talbot on the lower shore during an unusually low tide near Lepe Beach. These are of Cretaceous gastropod limestone, the 'Purbeck marble'. This is not true marble just an old name for a type of limestone that could be sculpted. It seems unlikely that the blocks are simply joint-bounded (see photographs of Purbeck Marble at Peveril Point below) and have regular forms. Measurements from an initial survey and plan suggests that these have been crudely worked into rectangular blocks of up to 227cm (7ft 4.5 inches) in length . They are partly covered in seaweed but do not seem to have any surface carvings. Unlike the many blocks on the beach at Durlston Bay, Swanage, they are not very rounded and have clearly been quarried from one of the thicker 'marble' beds.

For much of the time these blocks are under water, and they are partially buried in sand, gravel and mud. If the visitor just wishes to see Purbeck Marble then it is preferable not to go here, but to visit Peveril Point, Swanage where much more of it is easily accessible on the shore at all tides and most is in good clean condition without seaweed. The blocks at Lepe are of special interest, though, because there is no outcrop of Purbeck Marble in that area, or indeed on the Isle of Wight across the Solent.

Vertical Purbeck Marble at Peveril Point

Syncline of Purbeck Marble at Peveril Point, Swanage

Shown above is Purbeck Marble in situ in the Isle of Purbeck, the region of Dorset from whence the blocks have come. A thin vertical bed of Purbeck Marble at Peveril Point is shown in the left image, at the northern end of Durlston Bay, Swanage. This is the "Green Marble" and is relatively thin. The "Blue Marble" and the "Red Marble" are also present in the cliffs here and are about 1.2m (4 feet) thick. In the right image the Blue Marble is shown within a small syncline on the beach. These thicker beds would have been more suitable for quarrying. The colours incidently are very variable, even within an individual bed, and are mainly the result of the extent of oxidation of the glauconite.

Viviparus shells in partially buried block of Purbeck Marble from Lepe Beach, Hampshire


Purbeck marble from the beach at Durlston Bay, showing Viviparus

Purbeck marble fragment from near Lepe Beach, Hampshire

The Purbeck Marble at Lepe is typical of that present in the Isle of Purbeck from Durlston Bay, Swanage westward to Blashenwell and in thinner beds to Lulworth Cove and beyond. The old map below shows the location of the main Purbeck Marble quarries at a late stage in its workings. It was extensively quarried and transported to Cathedrals for interior ornamental work in the 14 century. Much was used for pillars and much was also used for tombs.

Old map of the Isle of Purbeck, showing Purbeck Marble quarries

The Purbeck Marble is a fine-grained and easily carved limestone, a type of freestone without internal bedding planes on which it might split. The Lepe material has not been examined petrographically but hand-lens observations show that it is almost identical to the familiar Dorset rock type. It consists of shells of the lake-snail Viviparus. Arkell (1947) identified the particular gastropod as Viviparus cariniferus (J. de C. Sowerby). The gastropod diameters range from 2mm to about 3.5 mm. In addition to the complete gastropods there is a small proportion of broken shell material and some "nesting". Glauconite is of the dispersed type, rather than as obvious grains, and is frequently within gastropod shells. The presence of authigenic glauconite in a low-salinity, almost freshwater, bed has for a long time been a topic of interest to sedimentologists. Some reworked Portland glauconite does occur in the Upper Purbeck strata but there is little doubt that in addition, as in this case, glauconite originated in the nearly freshwater lake, perhaps partly because of the the significant iron input near the Purbeck-Wealden junction. An interesting aspect of the Lepe block examined is that the glauconite is unoxidised even within one centimetre of the block surface. Clearly the block has never been subaerially weathered and this good preservation is due to almost continuous submergence. There is a little limonitic browning on the outer part but the stone seems almost as fresh as though it has come directly from the quarry. The presence of allochems larger than 1mm in a pale buff micritic matrix places this rock as a biomicrudite according to Folk's Classification. Students may refer to it as a "biomicrite" using Folk in basic form for simplicity, but in fact it is really in the rudite category. In terms of textural maturity it is a packed biomicrudite. Using Dunham's Classification it is a gastropod packstone. Although it is a feature that is normally more easily seen in thin-section, even with the hand-lens some geopetal fabrics are visible. These consist of partial fillings of the lower part of gastropods with micritic sediment, the remainder, formerly empty part, of the shell interior being occupied by sparry calcite. If it was necessary to do so, it is possible to recognise the original "way-up" of the specimen.

It is clear that the Purbeck Marble has been imported into the Beaulieu River by ship. A Purbeck Marble font of about 1300 was present in the old church or chapel at Lower Exbury (See Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway website for an illustration of the old chapel). In 1907 it was moved to the present Exbury Church (Jowitt and Jowitt, 1978). The 14th century seems to have been a particular time of transport of Purbeck Marble by sea. An example of the records of shipping associated with the Purbeck marble industry is provided by the following extract from Drury (1948) : " A warrant was addressed in 1374 to the Keepers of the Port of Poole in Dorset ordering them to release from arrest the ship Margarete of Wareham, of 48 tons burthen, with two high tombs of marble for the Earl of Arundel and Eleanor his late wife, one great stone for the Bishop of Winchester, and other things of theirs which were on board. .." It is also of interest that Purbeck Marble has been used in the 12th century for grave slabs at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight.

The ship was presumably wrecked on the Horseshoe Spit in about the 14th century and buried under sand. It is just a matter for speculation as to whether the ship was trying to enter the Beaulieu River and head for Exbury Church or Beaulieu Abbey. It is recent erosion of the surrounds of the spit from the 1930s onwards has revealed the remains of the wreck. (A human skeleton found in the mud some years ago to the west of Horseshoe Spit, near the present car park, and photographed by Keith Talbot, may or may not have any connection with the shipwreck)

For more on the history of the use of Purbeck Marble see Thomas (2008), p. 72 et seq.

(In case it has relationship to the shipwreck with Purbeck Marble blocks, it may worth mentioning that A. J. Holland and Edmund de Rothschild (1982) refer to the occurrence of a large stone slab about 8 feet long and 18 inches wide in a field next to Bill Birch's house in Lower Exbury Road. This is about the same size as the shipwrecked slabs. It was on a mound, but when excavated it was found to have iron hinges on its hidden side, and was assumed to be just an old gatepost. It probably has no connection, at all with the shipwrecked blocks but is mentioned just in case it should prove to be of Purbeck Marble.)

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23. MISCELLANEOUS - General - 1


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Quartz Geode in Pleistocene Gravel at Fields Heath, Blackfield near Fawley

Potato Stone or quartz geode, present as a large pebble in Pleistocene gravel at Fields Heath, near Fawley Hampshire

A public meeting at Lepe Beach Country Park took place on Saturday, 6 November; at this people were invited to bring with them geological specimens of interest for identification. The specimen shown is of particular interest. It was found 3m down (near the base) in Pleistocene fluvial gravel at Fields Heath, Blackfield, near Fawley by John Field in about 1989. It was kindly brought to the Lepe Beach meeting by Mrs Field. The clast is a rounded, almost spherical, brown pebble of silica, with dimensions of 9 cm by 9 cm by 10 cm. It is not the usual flint pebble, derived from the Chalk. It consists mostly of quite large crystals of quartz which have grown in from the periphery and are almost touching, but with a small gap, at the centre. The quartz is slightly brownish in part, and does not show any obvious pink hematite staining. The periphery has a thin, brown, fined-grained layer of silica surrounding the coarsely crystalline centre.

It should be noted that the gravel terrace at Fields Heath is not the same one that is present in the cliff at Lepe. It has a top surface at a height of about 20 m. It probably corresponds to either terrace 2 or 3 of Edwards and Freshney (1987) .

There are various modes of formation of quartz geodes. They may originate from igneous activity such as the filling of vesicles or gas bubbles in lava. Probably most commonly they are the result of quartz replacement of anhydrite (calcium sulphate) nodules of evaporitic origin. The most well-developed of southern England are from the Trias. Those from the Triassic Dolomitic Conglomerate of the Bristol district have been described by Tucker (1976) . These are known as potato stones, Bristol diamonds or Bristol Stones. Similar quartz replacements of calcium sulphate nodules occur in many parts of the world such as Saudi Arabia. The best example have well-developed, clear, quartz crystals with a central cavity; examples can be purchased in many mineral and fossil shops. The example from the Fields Heath gravel pit is of much interest, but not of the highly ornamental type. Its significance is that it might be an indicator of provenance of the gravel. If it proved to be of Triassic origin then the Pleistocene river supplying the gravel had headwaters further to the west or northwest than would otherwise have been expected. So far no detailed petrographic study has been made so as to prove its evaporite-deposit origin. It is possible that this geode has formed by some other mechanism. If it could have been formed within the Chalk it has little significance regarding provenance, but if it is of Triassic origin it provides new information.

One further possibility should also be considered. Evaporites are well-developed in the Tertiary strata of the Paris Basin but are rare in England. Brown siliceous nodules replacing gypsum have been reported from the Bembridge Limestone in Gurnard Bay, just across the Solent from Lepe Beach. I am not aware of quartz geodes after calcium sulphate from that locality but their occurrence could be possible. A Tertiary source cannot be eliminated as yet, particularly because of the brown, rather than pink, colour. Triassic deposits tend to be pink or red-stained by hematite, whereas Tertiary sediments are more often brown-stained by limonite or goethite.

I thank Mrs Field for bringing in the specimen. The source remains uncertain but it is clearly worth looking for potato stones in the Pleistocene gravels, and further finds might shed more light on this particular little mystery!

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24. MISCELLANEOUS - General-2

Some Present-day Marine Life


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Just for interest one or two items of modern marine life here are added.

Lepe Beach, Hampshire

Lepe has a stoney, sandy and muddy shore, without a large number of rocks and the foreshore is much disturbed by bait-diggers after lugworms etc. This is not very favourable for sea anemones. However, this green sea anemone was noticed by Keith Talbot at the seaward end of the gravel spit at Stone Point at the water's edge at low spring tide. It is probably Anemonia viridis, the Snakelocks Anemone, which has symbiotic algae inside which can act as an energy source. According to Hawkins and Jones (1992) it normally lives in eulittoral and sublittoral fringe pools and is rarely out of the water.

For more information on this sea anemone see Snakelocks Anemone . It occurs in the western English Channel, but this website indicates that it has been found as far east as Worthing.


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For the nearby Inchmery Saltmarshes and the Beaulieu River estuary go to related webpage:

The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary .

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Miscellaneous - Shipping seen from Lepe and Stansore Point

Although this is not, of course, a geological point, it is a matter of interest that large (and exceptionally large) ships that follow the main, deep channel past Calshot Spit are easily seen from Lepe, and particularly from Stansore Point, east of Lepe Beach.

An unusually large ship, the Tihama of the United Arab Shipping Company, leaving Southampton Water, near Calshot Spit, but seen from Stansore Point, near Lepe,  Hampshire, 18th August 2017

The fore part of the unusually large container ship, the Tihama, photographed from the Stansore Point, near Lepe, Hampshire, 18th August 2017

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I am very grateful to Keith Talbot and Richard Carpenter for permission to figure the dinosaur footprint which they discovered. The cooperation of the HCC Countryside Service who manage Lepe Country Park is much appreciated. Keith Talbot has been particularly helpful in pointing out features in the field and discussing particular problems of Lepe and Stone Point. I am very much obliged to him. Keith has studied in detail the local history of Lepe Beach; he has found many interesting objects on the coast and found many old reports and newspaper cuttings providing valuable information on the area.

I am particularly obliged to the landowner, the late Maldwin Drummond who accompanied Keith Talbot, Gary Momber and myself on a survey of the beach. His special knowledge of his own coastline is, of course, of particular value and his comments are very much appreciated. A good opportunity to consider geological aspects of Lepe Beach was provided by an open meeting at the Lepe Country Park centre in November 2004 organised by the PASHCC group. I am very grateful to Dr Rebecca Briant, Dr Martin Bates, Dr Francis Wenban-Smith and Dr Gilbert Marshall for an invitation to be present at this and for their helpful discussion of their studies. I thank Mrs Fields for drawing my attention to the potato stone from the gravel of Fields Heath. I am obliged to the participants in a Countryside Education Trust geology walk for their enthusiastic involvement in field work here in June, 2006. I much appreciate the advice and help of my daughter, Tonya Loades of Bartley West, Chartered Surveyors.

I am particularly grateful to the staff of the Channel Coastal Observatory for kindly allowing me to use their excellent aerial photographs. Help with field photography by Christine Mackey in 2017 is very much appreciated. I thank Christine for the opportunity to use some of her excellent photographs.

Catherine West has kindly and generously provided the background support that has made this webpage and website possible (location here, near Horseshoe Spit).


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Allen , L.G. and Gibbard, P.L. 1993. Pleistocene evolution of the Solent River of southern England. Quaternary Science Reviews, Elsevier, 12, 503-528. Authors are both from the Subdepartment of Quaternary Research, Botany School, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK. Abstract: The Solent River no longer exists since most of its course was drowned by eustatic sea level rise during the Flandrian Stage (Holocene). Previously, it flowed eastwards across southeast Dorset and south Hampshire as an extension of the River Frome. As such, it formed the axial major stream of the Hampshire Basin. A sequence of fluvial aggradations, ranging in height from 125 m O.D. to below sea level, provide evidence of the former courses of this substantial river and its tributaries. Detailed study of the deposits, supported by analysis of clast lithological assemblages provide the basis for the recognition of a series of lithostratigraphical units throughout the area. The facies and sedimentary structures indicate that the bulk of the deposits accumulated in a braided river environment under periglacial climates. Late Pleistocene fossiliferous sediments of Ipswichian and Flandrian age provide a biostratigraphical framework.The results demonstrate that the Solent River was a substantial system, comparable in size to the present Thames, and was a tributary ofthe 'Channel River' during periods of low sea level (cold stages). Evolution of the river reflects its response to climatic change, local geological structure and long term tectonic activity. Although datable deposits limit determination of the age of the Solent River sequence, it is undoubtedly of considerable antiquity and potentially extends back to the Early Pleistocene. Discussion of the sequence includes placing the events within their regional context. [End of abstract. - Notes: This is an important paper on the Pleistocene deposits of the southern Hampshire Basin. Many gravel terraces are recognised and named, but are not correlated in detail with the numbered terraces of the British Geological Survey (Southampton and Bournemouth sheets). The paper includes discussion of the following gravel terraces in the Bournemouth-Southampton area from lowest to highest: Pennington Gravel (Pennington near Lymington, and with Ipswichian Interglacial deposits); Lepe Lower Gravel (Lepe Beach, under the Interglacial deposit, pre-Ipswichian); North End Copse / Holdenhurst Gravel; Pennington Gravel / Burton Rough Gravel/ Southbourne Gravel; ; Lepe Upper Gravel (Lepe Beach, Devensian); Milford-on-Sea Gravel / Bransgore Gravel /Knighton Lodge Gravel; Stanswood Bay Gravel / West Southbourne Gravel / Taddiford Farm Gravel / High Cliff Gravel / Ensbury Park Gravel; Tom's Down Gravel (near Fawley); Old Milton Gravel; Mount Pleasant Gravel; Setley Plain Gravel (New Forest); Beaulieu Heath Gravel (New Forest); Tiptoe Gravel; Sway Gravel; Holmsley Ridge Gravel (western New Forest); Whitefield Hill Gravel. The Wareham-Dorchester Pleistocene gravels are also discussed. The paper includes interesting data on gravel composition, mostly flint and chert and including the presence of Portland Rhaxella chert and oolitic chert and Upper Greensand chert.]
Arkell, W.J. 1947. The Geology of the Country around Weymouth, Swanage, Corfe and Lulworth. Memoir of the Geological Survey Great Britain. 386pp. With Wright, C.W.and Melville, R.V. 2nd edition - 1952 with Addenda and Corrigenda.
Barber, K.E. 1987, Wessex and the Isle of Wight - Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, Cambridge. Prepared to accompany the Annual Field Meeting held at Southampton and Cowes, 21-25 April, 1987. 180 pp. paperback. Edited and compiled by Professor Keith Barber, Department of Geography, Southampton University.
Bowskill, D. 1990. The Solent; A Cruising-Guide from Selsey Bill to the Needles, including the Isle of Wight. 168pp. Imray Laurie Norie and Wilson, Ltd. St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England.
"Lepe House is to the westward of the leading line, and almost next door coastguard cottages are to the eastward. Here is also the shingle beach where the mini-river, the Darkwater runs out. Tradition has it that there used to be causeway on which one could keep dry feet all the way to the Isle of Wight. In the middle was a narrow channel requiring no more than a "leap" by man or horse; hence the name." [There is now a transverse spit at low tide, extending out, at right angles to the shore, between Stone Point and Stansore Point, but it will not take you far towards the Isle of Wight! Was a larger one in the past a real possibilty or just a legend?
Bray , M.J., Hooke, J.M. and Carter, D.J. 2000. Sea level rise in the Solent region. Pp. 101-102 in: Collins, M. and Ansell, K. 2000. Solent Science - A Review. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 385pp.
Brown , R.C., Gilbertson, D.D., Green, C.P. and Keen, D.H. 1975. Stratigraphy and environmental significance of Pleistocene deposits at Stone, Hamphire. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, London, 86, (3) 349-363. Brown, R.C., Gilbertson, D.D., Green, C.O. and Keen, D.H. 1975. Stratigraphy and environmental significance of Pleistocene deposits at Stone, Hampshire. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 86, 349-363. Abstract: The stratigraphy of the Pleistocene deposits at Stone is described. A threefold division of the deposits is apparent. providing evidence of two separate phases of aggradation. The earlier phase is represented by the fluvial Lower Gravel. occupying a depression cut in Tertiary rocks to below present sea-level. This aggradation predates the rise of sea-level in the Ipswichian interglacial. Ipswichian organic deposits rest on the dissected surface of the Lower Gravel. Alternating brackish and fresher water horizons suggest an intermittent rise of sea-level in Zone f of the interglacial. The fluvial Upper Gravel appears to overlie the Zone f deposits. and may indicate deteriorating climatic conditions towards the end of the interglacial.    1. Introduction: On the Hampshire coast at Stone (National Grid Reference SZ 457984), Pleistocene deposits comprising gravel, sand, clay and peat outcrop on the foreshore and in the cliff behind it. Organic horizons were first described at Stone by Reid (1893). He recognised their Pleistocene age and identified a flora indicative of mild climatic conditions. The stratigraphy of the Pleistocene deposits was considered briefly by Palmer & Cooke (1923); they recognised the gravels of a 15 ft. (4.6 m) terrace at Stone overlying the organic deposits, but they considered the latter to predate not only the 15 ft. terrace but also an earlier 50 ft. (15.2 m) terrace. The organic horizons were re-examined by West & Sparks (1960), who placed them, on the basis of pollen evidence, in Zone f of the Ipswichian interglacial (Ip IIb). At the time of the latter investigation the site was largely covered by recent intertidal sediments and no detailed stratigraphical study was possible. The present account provides a reappraisal of the stratigraphy of the site and describes organic sediments, including several horizons .of Phragmites peat, at levels slightly above O.D. and therefore higher than the material discussed by West & Sparks. .. [continues]    

Brown, R.C., Gilbertson, D.D., Green, C.O. and Keen, D.H. 1975. Stratigraphy and environmental significance of Pleistocene deposits at Stone, Hampshire. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 86, 349-363. Abstract: The stratigraphy of the Pleistocene deposits at Stone is described. A threefold division of the deposits is apparent. providing evidence of two separate phases of aggradation. The earlier phase is represented by the fluvial Lower Gravel. occupying a depression cut in Tertiary rocks to below present sea-level. This aggradation predates the rise of sea-level in the Ipswichian interglacial. Ipswichian organic deposits rest on the dissected surface of the Lower Gravel. Alternating brackish and fresher water horizons suggest an intermittent rise of sea-level in Zone f of the interglacial. The fluvial Upper Gravel appears to overlie the Zone f deposits. and may indicate deteriorating climatic conditions towards the end of the interglacial.
    1. Introduction: On the Hampshire coast at Stone (National Grid Reference SZ 457984), Pleistocene deposits comprising gravel, sand, clay and peat outcrop on the foreshore and in the cliff behind it. Organic horizons were first described at Stone by Reid (1893). He recognised their Pleistocene age and identified a flora indicative of mild climatic conditions. The stratigraphy of the Pleistocene deposits was considered briefly by Palmer & Cooke (1923); they recognised the gravels of a 15 ft. (4.6 m) terrace at Stone overlying the organic deposits, but they considered the latter to predate not only the 15 ft. terrace but also an earlier 50 ft. (15.2 m) terrace. The organic horizons were re-examined by West & Sparks (1960), who placed them, on the basis of pollen evidence, in Zone f of the Ipswichian interglacial (Ip IIb). At the time of the latter investigation the site was largely covered by recent intertidal sediments and no detailed stratigraphical study was possible. The present account provides a reappraisal of the stratigraphy of the site and describes organic sediments, including several horizons .of Phragmites peat, at levels slightly above O.D. and therefore higher than the material discussed by West & Sparks. .. [continues] [For similar and related material see also: Green, C.P. and Keen, D.H. 1987. Stratigraphy and palaeoenvironments of the Stone Point deposits: the 1975 investigation. Pp. 17-20 in: Barber, K.E. 1987, Wessex and the Isle of Wight, Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association. Prepared to accompany the Annual Field Meeting held at Southampton and Cowes, 21-25 April, 1987. 180 pp.]
Bruce , P. 2008. Solent Hazards. 5th Edition, Second Revision. By Peter Bruce. 111 pp. Boldre Marine, Kestrel Cottage, Shirley Holms, Lymington, Hampshire, S)41 8NH. Price in 2008 - 16 pounds sterling, 95 pence.[Contains many excellent oblique aerial photographs of Solent shores in addition to very informative text].
Editions: First published, May 1985, Second edition Nov. 1985, Third Oct. 1987, Third reprinted, Sept. 1989, Third reprinted, Oct. 1990, Fourth edition published July, 1994, Fourth edition revised, November 1997, Fifth edition published May 2001, Fifth edition revised June 2003, Fifth edition, second revision April 2008. See also by the same author: Solent Tides, and Wight Hazards.
From the back cover: "This unique book, now its enlarged and updated fifth edition, has become the established work of reference for all Solent mariners. In addition to vital local knowledge of the Solent that enables power craft owners, fishermen and yachtsmen, whether cruising or racing, to avoid the many hazards, its gives some delightful historical gems and other information of general interest. Aerial photographs taken at extreme low water spring tides, reveal the hazards in a most explicit manner while the text gives details, often not to be found on the chart or in any other publication, of rocks, wrecks, and obstructions, and how best to avoid them. In short, this book enables anyone to become a Solent expert almost overnight.
Clarke , A. 2003. The Roman road on the eastern fringe of the New Forest, from Shorn Hill to Lepe. Proceedings of Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, 58, 33-58.
Coles , K.A. 1963. Creeks and Harbours of the Solent: with Langstone, Chichester Harbours and the The Isle of Wight. By K. Allard Coles, Seventh Edition, revised with many charts and 70 new photographs. Edward Arnold, London, 139pp.
Collins Chart of 1693 showing the  Solent and the Isle of Wight, southern England. This is just an illustrative image of low resolution.

Collins, G. 1693. Chart of the Solent and the Isle of Wight. By Captain Greenville Collins, appointed in 1662 to survey the coasts of Great Britain. [This does not contain geological information but is useful in showing the original coastline of the Solent and Isle of Wight prior to much reclamation and development. There are differences from the modern coastline on the north coast of the West Solent, in the area of Lee-on-the-Solent, in the eastern harbours and at Brading on the Isle of Wight. Obviously it must be used with caution in case of errors. The author of this work, Captain Greenville Collins, was a Royal Navy officer who was later promoted to Commander and became Hydrographer to the King. In 1681 Samuel Pepys, Secretary of the Admiralty, appointed Captain Collins to survey the coasts of the British Isles which took about eight years. The result was that in 1693 'Great Britain's Coasting Pilot' was published. In spite of some inaccuracies, Collins' charts proved of great value and were re-issued more than twenty times without revision. With regard to the Solent and Isle of Wight chart, of interest here, there were various editions and reprints. A later edition was published in 1753, and a slightly reduced facsimile was produced in 1965 and a small version in 1967. Copies may be obtainable from antique map dealers.]
Codrington , T. 1870. Superficial deposits of South Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, 26, 528-551.
Cundy , A.B. and Croudace, I.W. 1996 Sediment accretion and recent sea-level rise in the Solent, southern England: inferences from radiometric and geochemical studies. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 43 (4), 449-467.
Defoe , D. 1705 [Probable date. Refers to 1703 storm which was obviously then recent and contains many letters dated 1704. Date not seen on the title page.] A Collection of the Most Remarkable Casualties Disasters which happen'd in the Late Dreadful Tempest both by Sea and Land on Friday the Twenty-fixth of November, Seventeen Hundred and Three. To which is added Several Suprising Deliverances. The Natural Causes and Original of Winds. Of the Opinion of the Ancients that this Island was More Subject to Storms than Other Parts of the World. With Several Other Curious Observations upon the Storm. The Whole Divided into Chapters under Proper Headings. 2nd Ed. George Sawbridge, London, 272 pp. [A storm which had a major effect on the mouth of the Beaulieu River and thus Lepe Beach.]
Devoy , R.J.N. 1972. Environmental changes in the Solent area during the Flandrian Era. Unpublished dissertation for the B.A. Honours Degree in Geography. University of Durham, 47pp.

Devoy, R.J.N. 1982. Analysis of the geological evidence for Holocene sea-level movements in Southeast England. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association , 86, 239-245.
Dix , J.K. 2001.The Geology of the Solent River System. Pp. 7-14 in: Wenban-Smith, F.F. and Horsfield, R.T. 2001. Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River, Proceedings of the Lithic Studies Society day meeting held at the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton on Saturday 15th January, 2000. Lithic Studies Society Occasional Paper No. 7 (2001). Published by the Lithic Studies Society, c/o British Museum (Quaternary Section), Franks House, 38-46 Orsman Road, London, N1 5QJ. ISBN 0-9513246-3-2, ISSN 0950-9208. 111 pp., paperback. Abstract: The geology of the Hampshire Basin is dominated by Cretaceous Chalk and the, unconformably, overlying muds, sands and gravels of the early Tertiary deposits. Relatively gentle deformation of these sequences has resulted in the creation of the natural basin identified today and within which is contained the catchment of the Solent River system. This river system developed throughout the Pleistocene and as such is believed to have dominated the landscape for this entire period. There has been significant modification of the river system by every interglacial highstand, most recently with the Holocene transgression which has flooded the lower reaches of the Devensian version and as such has caused considerable re-working of the currently submerged deposits. Associated with this river system is a sporadic but well documented assemblage of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts. The existence and distribution of these assemblages is intimately linked to the underlying geology and the basin's more recent history. A synthesis of the Caenozoic and Pleistocene history is therefore presented as a backdrop to more detailed discussions presented within the rest of this volume. A short discussion of the key future research issues related to our understanding of the Solent River system will be presented.[end of abstract].
Drury , G.D. 1948. The use of Purbeck Marble in mediaeval times. Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, 70, 74-98. With 28 monochrome plates, mostly photographs of tombs, pillars and fonts in Purbeck Marble. By G. Dru Drury, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., F.S.A. (Read 30 November, 1948). "The subject has been well written up in the Victoria County History of Dorset (Vol. 2, p. 331), and prior to this, Hutchins (History of Dorset, Vol. 1, p. 466 et seq.) gave much useful information, including extracts from the Sheriff's accounts for Dorset regarding the supply and destination of worked marble, particularly in the reign of Henry III. .. Purbeck marble inevitably figures largely in the numerous works on mediaeval architecture and sculpture, predominantly ecclesiastical in the case of the former and particularly monumental in regard to the latter. It is by no means easy to contribute anything original to the very considerable amount of evidence already at out disposal. ..There is enough material to make a book dealing solely with this large and fascinating subject, but much of it is accessible only in reference libraries, and the first object of this paper is to assemble these records in a convenient and condensed form, adding some personal observations which are the result of the pursuit of Purbeck marble over a number of years. Secondly, it is an endeavour to answer, in some measure, the following questions which are so frequently asked.
A. Was the marble carved at the site of the quarries or elsewhere; to what extent was it finished locally?
B. What was the cause of its rapid rise in popularity during the 13th century, with such an enormous output that it is to be found in the structure or fittings of most of the important ecclesiastical buildings of the Early English and the Decorated periods in the country?
C. Why did its use decline and gradually fade out after reaching its peak in the middle of the 14th century?
General Considerations:
The relatively thin vein of marble occupies a line about halfway down the northern slope of the southern range of the Purbeck Hills between Peveril Point and Warbarrow Tout. It is easy of access from the surface owing to the tilting of all the Purbeck strata, but extraction from the lower levels is a very laborious undertaking. The yield of good workable material only amounts to about eighteen inches to two feet in thickness, and it is due to this circumstance that the Purbeck marble effigies show a distinct flatness in rendering which gives them a characteristic style. There is considerable variation both in colour and in quality, the reddish variety is far the most durable, and unlike the other hues, can stand exposure to the weather quite well...Tumbled remains of the mediaeval surface quarries, now overgrown, can be seen at various points, notably at Wilkeswood; at Quarr; at Dunshay whence came the marble for Salisbury Cathedral, the drive leading to Dunshay manor house winds right through the old marble workings; at Woodyhyde, where the quarries were reoppened in 1842 to provide marble for the restoration of the Temple Church, London; at Scoles; at Afflington where there was once a flourishing village in connection with the marble and stone industries and to which Henry III granted a market and a fair in 1270; at Lynch; and at Blashenwell, where the quarries were used as late as the year 1880 by G.E. Street when he built the near-by new church at Kingston." ... (continues)
Edwards , R.A. and Freshney, E.C. 1987. Geology of the Country around Southampton. Memoir for 1:50,000 geological map sheet 315 (England and Wales). British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 111pp. ISBN 0 11 884396 6. Original Price - 7 pounds, 50 pence. Contributors: Geophysics - Smith, I.F.; Palaeontology: Boulter, M.C., Clark, R.D., Cooper, J., Harland, R., Hughes, M.J. and King, C.; Petrography - Merriman, R.J. and Morton, A.C.; Stratigraphy: Holder, M.T., King, C. and Scrivener, R.C.; Water Supply - Monkhouse, R.A. [Not on Lepe Beach but relevant because it discusses the country to the north of Lepe and some of the same stratal units are present at Lepe. See also the associated Southampton Geological Survey map - sheet 315.]
Everard , C.E. 1954a. The Solent river; a geomorphological study. Transaction of the Institute of British Geographers, 20, 41-58.

Everard, C.E. 1954b. Submerged gravel and peat in Southampton Water. Papers and Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, 18, 263-285.
Exbury Gardens. Go to:
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway website.
"Lionel de Rothschild moved to Exbury in 1912, purchasing Inchmery House with plans to create his gardens in the land surrounding this house. Unfortunately this didn't prove to be possible and so in 1919 he purchased the Exbury Estate, neighbouring his Inchmery home, and set about creating the world famous Gardens.
Exbury village and Estate owe their appearance to the Mitford's and Rothschild's, who created the mix of architectural designs seen today. The Rothschilds of all the owners have probably had the greatest impact on the appearance of this quintessential Hampshire village and Estate...." [continues]
Fisher, O. 1871. Portland wood, on the coast of Sussex. Reply to Mr. Perceval. Geological Magazine, 8, 524-525.
Fox, W.D. 1862. When and how was the Isle of Wight separated from the mainland? Geologist, 5, 452. [Initial theory of the Solent River. By the Reverend Fox.]
Godwin, G. and Godwin, M.E. 1940. Submerged peat at Southampton; data for the study of Postglacial history. New Phytologist, 39, 303- 307. [On Holocene or Flandrian peat, not on Interglacial peat, but useful for comparison.]

Godwin, G., Suggate, R.P. and Willis, E.G. 1958. Radiocarbon dating of the eustatic rise in ocean level. Nature, London, 181, 1518-1519. [Not on Lepe, but useful background information]
Green, C.P. and Keen, D.H. 1987. Stratigraphy and palaeoenvironments of the Stone Point deposits: the 1975 investigation. Pp. 17-20 in: Barber, K.E. 1987, Wessex and the Isle of Wight, Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association. Prepared to accompany the Annual Field Meeting held at Southampton and Cowes, 21-25 April, 1987. 180 pp. No abstract available, so extract of introduction given below: The Pleistocene deposits at Stone (SZ 457984) were first described by Reid (1893) and subsequently by Palmer & Cooke (1923), West & Sparks (1960) and Brown et al (1975). Figures 1 and 2 indicate the arrangenent of the deposits investigated by Brown et al (1975). On the foreshore, organic clays including several beds of Phragmites peat occupy depressions in the surface of an underlying Lcwer Gravel. In the cliff, the relationship of these deposits to an overlying Upper Gravel can be traced. .. The full extent of the organic deposits and the Upper Gravel is unknown, but they are not present at Lepe Coastguard House, 0.61 km west of Stone, or at Cadland, 2.01 km north-east of Stone. At both these places a low terrace gravel of the River Solent rests directly at Tertiary bedrock, and has a base at approximately the same level as the base of the Upper Gravel at Stone. The Lower Gravel at Stone, and the organic deposits appear therefore to occupy a depression cut in the Tertiaries to below present sea level. .. Stratigraphy .. This is the lowest member of the Pleistocene succession at Stone. In composition (Table 1) it resembles terrace gravels of the former River Solent. A maximum thickness of 2.6 m of gravel was seen in excavations beneath the modern beach without reaching a base. In sane places the upper part of the Lower Gravel, a bleached horizon and iron pan resembling parts of a podzolic soil were seen... [continues with: Fig. 1 - an important plan from the 1975 paper of Brown et al showing the details of the beach with pit numbers and locations of bulk samples; Fig. 2 Sections through the Pleistocene deposits, also from Brown et al. The original short paper is very useful and it should be consulted.]
Hampshire County Council. D-Day at Lepe, Hampshire County Council website - Hantsweb.
Hinton, D.A. and Insole, A.N. 1988. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight: Ordnance Survey Historical Guides. George Phillip, Ordnance Survey. 159pp. ISBN 0-540-01137-1. Hardcover. [This guide is useful for the topographical history of the coast of the Solent and the Isle of Wight and inland areas such as the New Forest. Maps from the first series of the nineteenth century Ordnance Survey, covering the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are compared with modern Ordnance Survey Landranger series of maps. There is explanatory text and old photographs. The value of this in terms of geology and geomorphology is that it shows the coast has changed with development, silting-up or erosion. The Solent shores (e.g. map 47 - Lymington) are very different with many salterns and salt works. The extent of erosion at Barton and Hordle cliff (map 46 - Milton) can be seen. There are photographs of Ventnor in 1890 and old Blackgang Road, Niton in about 1895.]
Hodgson, J.M. 1964. The low level Pleistocene marine sands and gravels of the west Sussex coastal plain. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 75, 547-561. [Not on Lepe, but useful for comparison]
Hodson, F. and Shelford, P.H. 1964. Geology, In: A Survey of Southampton and its Region. (F.J. Monkhouse, ed.) pp.15-36. British Association for the Advancement of Science, Southampton. [A general paper on the region, not detailed.]

Hodson, F. and West, I.M. 1972. The Holocene deposits of Fawley, Hampshire and the development of Southampton Water. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 83, 421-444. Abstract: Holocene estuarine deposits up to 21 m. in thickness, which were encountered in boreholes and excavations at Fawley, partly fill the southwestern side of the drowned valley of Southampton Water. Saltmarsh clays with peat lie above and below tidal-flat clays of Atlantic age. The mollusc, foraminifera and ostracod faunas and the coccolith and diatom floras of these Holocene deposits are discusssed. Gravels of Calshot Spit are interbedded with these sediments to a depth which suggests the existence of the spit in Atlantic times or earlier. The spit has deflected the deep channel eastwards and has protected the south-western borders of the estuary from erosion... In the northern part of Southampton Water, late Holocene estuarine beds transgress northward over Holocene freshwater sediments. Much of the thick estuarine sequence at Fawley corresponds in age to a thin freshwater succession in the north. [Details of a nearby locality, relevant for comparison.]
Holland, A.J. and de Rothschild. 1982. Our Exbury: Life in an English Village in the 1920's and early '30's. By A. J. Holland and Edmund de Rothschild. 78 pp. booklet. Published by Paul Cave Publications Ltd., 74 Bedford Place, Southampton. Printed by Brown & Sons (Ringwood) Ltd., Crowe Arch Lane, Ringwood, Hampshire.
Holmes , N.A. and Bishop, G.M. 1980. Survey of the littoral zone of the coast of Great Britain. no.5: Report on the sediment shores of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Hooke, J.M. and Riley, R.C. 1992. Historical changes on the Hampshire coast 1870-1965. Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society for 1991, v. 47, pp. 203-224. By Dr. Janet Hooke and Dr. Ray Riley. Published by the Department of Geography, Portsmouth Polytechnic. The paper is available online free.
[Abstract] The changes which occurred on the Hampshire coastline in the period 1870-1965 are identified from a comparison of large-scale Ordnance Survey maps. The type of changes are classified into six categories - erosion, accretion, lateral movement of spits, reclamation, loss of land, and narrowing or widening of the intertidal zone. In addition to cliff and beach erosion, narrowing of the intertidal area emerges as a major change which has taken place on many parts of the Hampshire coast. Changes in the most dynamic sections of the coast are analysed for trends and patterns of variation and some rates of erosion are presented, derived from measurements on 1/2500 scale maps. [End of Abstract].
[Development of Needs Ore Point and Warren Shore Spit at the mouth of the Beaulieu River near Lepe Beach. See also Tubbs (1999) for a diagram based on this work.]
Jowitt, R.L.P. and Jowitt, D. M. 1978. The Solent and its Surroundings. Terence Dalton Ltd., Lavenham, Suffolk. 142 pp. By R.L.P and Dorothy M. Jowitt. Photographs by Robert E. Jowitt.
Keen , D.H. 1980. The environment of deposition of the south Hampshire Plateau Gravels. Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, 36, 15-24.
Kell , E. 1866. An account of a Roman building at Gurnard Bay in the Isle of Wight, and its relation to the ancient British tin trade in the Island. Journal of the British ArchaeologicaI Association, 22: 351-368. [reference from Tomalin (2000)]
Kellaway , G.A. 1971. Glaciation and the stones of Stonehenge. Nature, London, vol. 233, September 3, pp. 30-35. [English Channel glacier theory]

Kellaway, G.A., Redding, J.H., Shephard-Thorn, E.R. and Destombes, J-P. 1975. The Quaternary history of the English Channel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, Series A, 279, 189-218. In: Dunham, K., and Smith, A.J. 1975. A Discussion on the Geology of the English Channel. The Royal Society, 6 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. [Controversial English Channel glacier theory, with glacial ice extending to about Lepe.]
Lewis, D.N., Donovan, S.K. and Sawford, P. 2003. Fossil echinoderms from the Carboniferous Limestone sea defence blocks at Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, southern England. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association , 114, 307-317. Abstract: The sea defence/coastal protection works at Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire include blocks of Carboniferous Limestone (Clifton Down Limestone Formation, Dinantian, Holkerian) from the Foster Yeoman 'Torr Works' Quarry at Merehead, East Cranmore, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. A rich fauna of echinoderms, corals, bryozoans, trilobites, brachiopods and gastropods is present in these blocks. The echinoderms include plates of the tests of the echinoids Palaechinus sp., Archaeocidaris sp. and an indeterminate echinoid: calyces of the crinoids platycrinitid sp., Actinocrinus sp. aff. A. rotundatus Wright, monobathrid sp. indet., camerate sp. indet. and Taxocrinus sp.; and numerous ossicles, including Cyclothyris (col.) sp. and Pentagonocyclicus (col.) spp. Camerates were important members of early Carboniferous crinoid faunas, although the absence of cladids is notable. Examination of any fossils contained within coastal protection blocks is an important source of information when the place of origin of the blocks is known but is unavailable for study purposes. [by David N. Lewis, Natural History Museum, London, Stephen K. Donovan, Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, and Paul Sawford, Ruislip Road, Northolt, Middlesex.]
Mannion , R. (Rob) 1982. To the Isle of Wight ... by Train; The Fanatics who Tried to Link the Island and Mainland with a Solent Rail Tunnel. Southern Evening Echo (Newspaper), Wednesday, February 10, 1982. Extract, from the start:
"Revived interest in the unfortunate "Channel Tunnel" railway scheme and proposals for a Solent road bridge has reminded enthusiasts of a much earlier long abandoned project . .. the Solent railway tunnel.
Even before the first railway had opened on the Island, between Cowes and Newport in 1862, there had been much interest in linking up with mainland railways via a Solent Tunnel.
Relatively speaking, railways came late to the Island, the London to Southampton line having opened in 1839/40. However, when they did arrive the impact they had on the landscape and islanders can be seen and felt today.
To show how keen islanders were to have a direct railway link to the mainland, there ,exists a rare booklet by the late Fred Turton. This book was a privately financed publishing venture acting as a last-ditch attempt to attract attention to the project.
"The History of the Solent Tunnel Scheme and Associated Railways published in 1942, is dedicated' to two men. Frank Aman, considered to be the "father" of the scheme, lived in what is now the Totland Bay Hotel. He, along with Sir Blundel Maple, who was connected with the "Great Central Railway" spent most of the latter parts of their lives campaigning for the tunnel.
With the opening in 1889 of the most westerly and far flung line on the Island; the Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport-Railway, the tunnel became less an idea and more of a possibility.
Although the railway crossed the least- populated part of the Island, it was very near to the mainland, and the main line to London via the Lymington branch line.
The "FYN" was impoverished and would remain so right through to the sad end.
For a while it was not able to afford rolling stock and fell out with the other companies on the Island.
As was usual it was the passengers who suffered. They were "punished" for using the "FYN" by having to walk from one station to the other in Newport.
All this despite the fact there was a perfectly good junction with the other railways. This state of affairs lasted almost up until the 1920's grouping. The only real hope for the line really lay in the project for the tunnel, complete with electrically hauled trains through to join with the Lymington line. This railway had opened through to the harbour in May of 1884, with trains running right up alongside the Island ferries.
All the other possible sites for the tunnel, other than Yarmouth to Lymington had been mere speculation, mainly due to distance. Stokes Bay to Ryde, Lepe to Gurnard and HambIe to Cowes were all discarded.
In retrospect the Lepe to Gurnard route was interesting, as it is now the site for the main under. water electricity, gas and freshwater services pipe and cable routes. The possibility of the tunnel attracted the attention of the mighty Sir Sam Fay of the "Great Central Railway". Sir Sam was the main promoter of the Channel Tunnel and his interest may have been more than just "practising for the real thing". Being a local man, and having started his railway "career 'on the Mid-Hants Railway at Itchen Abbas, he could be said to have more than a passing interest in the Solent area. It was Sir Sam, that bold New Forester, who was later to resurrect a dying line, the Midland and South Western Junction with its line to Andover from Cheltenham, who upset literally every company in Britain.
What did he do? Simply enough, he had posters made up showing the "Great Central's" tentacles reaching everywhere, implying ownership rather than connections. Such a mad made many enimies ... and achieved much.
A Bill was brought before Parliament for the promotion of the "South Western and Isle of Wight Junction Railway". Capital was to be around 3,000,000 pounds of which half was subscribed by the outbreak of the "Great War". After this the promoters got an extension; The line would have been just over seven miles long, including the tunnel section and would have had running powers over the Lymington line to Brockenhurst, and over the FYN to Freshwater and Newport. Also included were powers to run to Ventnor West via Newport. Europe was heading into the "Great War" when things started to go drastically wrong for all involved in the project. Sir Blundel Maple died, and relations with the "Great Central" quickly broke down, never to be re-established.
Of course the FYN and the Tunnel Promoters could not continue, but legend has it that test borings and shafts were dug on both sides of thA-Solent. Records confirm the existence of the tests, but despite over 20 years of research it has proved impossible to locate them.
[continues for about an equal amount of text. ] [See also Turton.]
Mathers, S.J. 1982. The Sand and Gravel Resources of the Country Around Lymington and Beaulieu, Hampshire: description of parts of 1:25,000 sheet SU 20,30 and 40 and SZ 29, 39 and 49. 58 pages, diagrams, tables etc. 0 11 887417 9. Mineral Assessment Reports No 122. British Geological Survey.
Munt , M.C. and Burke, A. 1986. The Pleistocene geology and faunas at Newtown, Isle of Wight. Proceedings of the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society, 8, 7-14. [An Ipswichian Interglacial deposit occurs at the Newtown Estuary with bones of bisons and other mammals. (Incidently, there is a collection of bones at Southampton Oceanography Centre. These were dredged up by oyster dredgers in the 1970s at the mouth of the estuary.) The relevance to Lepe Beach is that comparison could be made to the Stone Point Interglacial Deposit.]
Murley, C. and Murley, F. 1991 [reprinted 1992 and 1995] Waterside: A Pictorial Past; Calshot, Fawley, Hythe and Marchwood [and Lepe Beach]. By Clare and Fred Murley [edited by David Graves]. Ensign Publications, Southampton. Paperback, 96pp. With a foreword by the late Maldwin Drummond of Cadland Houseand the Verderer of the New Forest. [This is a very well-illustrated publication, not geological, but providing important historic photographs and information on the areas discussed.] Note that there is a photograph from 1913 on p.14 showing Lepe House from the sea; at this date the old cliff line is a steep slope with bushes and not undergoing active erosion. There is a pebble beach in front of it and just a small groyne. This area now has to be protected by sea defences.
The authors write: [re: From Exbury to Eaglehurst] "Before the Great Storm of November 1703 it would have seemed very different. A large part of the Brambles Bank was then swept away and vast quantities of shingle altered the whole of this shoreline dramatically. Lepe Harbour was damaged, that of Stoney Point destroyed and the old harbour of Ourd on the Bourne vanished as shingle closed the entrance. ..... Lepe was a good little fishing port, the Darkwater stream which had a mill on it, flowed through the valley and came out alongside the cliff where the car park is now. .... the sea passage from Gurnard to Lepe was certainly a favoured route up to the first Elizabeth's time. There have been various spelling of the name over the years - Leope, Lupe, Leape and Leap have all been used."
"These lost harbours had made use of sheltered natural creeks running deep into the coastline. Poor roads made transport difficult so it was much easier to move goods by sea from place to place. The harbours of Stoney Point and Ourd no longer appear on a chart of 1786 and a nearby settlement around Stone Farm has gone. The mouth of the stream at Bourne Gap was closed by the shingle bank which quickly became stable and in the 1840s after a gully and sluice were put in, the reclaimed land was used for growing barley. [continues]
Murton, J. B. and French, H.M. 1993. Thermokarst involutions, Summer Island, Pleistocene Mackenzie Delta, Western Canadian Arctic. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, vol. 4, issue 3, July/September 1993. pp. 217-219. By Julian B. Murton and Hugh M. French.
Abstract: Thermokarst involutions form primarily by loading, buoyancy and water-escape during the degradation of ice-rich permafrost. In the Summer Island area of the Pleistocene Mackenzie Delta, they are formed mainly by loading and buoyancy, and occur within a Late Wisconsinan-Early Holocene thaw layer. Involutions formed by water-escape (fluidization) occur within slump-floor deposits. To form thermokarst involutions, ice-rich permafrost must thaw, drainage conditions must be poor and sediments must vary in texture or composition. In addition, the sediments should be susceptible to fluidization, liquefaction or hydroplastic deformation. Thermokarst involutions formed by loading and buoyancy require a reverse density gradient; those formed by fluidization require open-system groundwater conditions or associated water-saturated sediments susceptible to liquefaction. [This is relevant to contortions seen in the Pleistocene gravel, in the cliffs just to the east of Inchermery House.]
New Forest District Council. 2004. New Forest Coastal Management Plan, February 2004. C7, Zone 7: North West Solent Shore. Available on the internet at:
North West Solent Shore.
In this secluded part of the Solent shore, mudflats, saltmarshes and tidal creeks fringe a well-wooded, agricultural landscape. The zone is of outstanding scenic quality, and of considerable value for nature conservation. The majority of the area is in the ownership of a few large country estates. Other than at Lepe Country Park, public access is limited, and indeed much of its character and attractiveness is due to the resulting sense of isolation. .. [continues]
It includes this note of particular interest re erosion:
"C 7.6 - Parts of this low-lying shoreline are vulnerable to flooding, particularly the eastern side of the Lymington River estuary. Erosion of low cliffs and the marshes is evident, and landowners along the shore have undertaken a number of small coast protection schemes some with the advice and assistance of the District Council. A shingle bank has been constructed across Bull Run, an artificially created channel, to join Gull Island to Warren Farm Spit, in order to stem the rapid erosion of the bird sanctuary. More substantial works have been necessary at Lepe, where erosion threatens properties and the road near the shore; a major concrete structure protects the road. In front of Lepe House, timber coast protection works were built in 1991 by the landowner with a grant from the County Council, in return for a public right of way being established along the top of the new timber revetment. To the east, beyond Stone Point, the timber revetments are frequently undermined during storms, resulting in erosion of the soft, sandy cliffs. Similarly, the shingle beach north of Stansore Point is relatively unstable despite the timber groynes and revetments that have been constructed. The beach was breached extensively in 1991, resulting in damage to the cross Solent Isle of Wight gas mains. Parts of the heavily wooded foreshore, which forms part of Cadland Estate, have been lost over the last 50 years."
Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Sussex/Hampshire Coastal Corridor (PASHCC) . 2004 - in progress. A research project funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainable Fund. Aims of the Project: Geological Mapping, Dating of Palaeolithic Sites, Palaeolithic Settlement History, Protecting the Palaeolithic Heritage. A full report of the project has been lodged with Hampshire County Council and English Heritage. A museum exhibition in Southampton is planned in the near future. It is also hoped to carry out further work in the western Solent basin. Project team: Martin Bates, Department of Archaeology, University of Lampeter; Francis Wenban-Smith, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton; Rebecca Briant, Department of Geography, Kings College, London, Gilbert Marshall, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton (notes from a brochure available at Lepe). A very informative public meeting, exhibition and demonstration was given at Lepe Beach Country Park with the participation of Hampshire County Council on Saturday 6 November, 2004. Posters were on display showing excavation and core-sampling of the Pleistocene gravels and interglacial deposit. The Upper Gravel was shown dated at 65 ka (thousand years) old and the Lower Gravel at 205 ka. The interglacial deposit at Lepe (Stone Point) is between these. For more information see the reports and forthcoming publications of PASHCC (which may be under the names of one or more of the project team members listed above).
Website at:
PASHCC - Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Sussex/Hampshire Coastal Corridor
Preece, R.C., Scourse, J.D., Houghton, S.D., Knudsen, K.L. and Penny, D.N. 1990. The Pleistocene sea-level and neotectonic history of the eastern Solent, southern England. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B328, 425-477.
Reid , C. 1892. The Pleistocene deposits of the Sussex coast, and their equivalents in other districts. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, 48, 344-364. [The Sussex deposits are very relevant to Lepe]

Reid, C. 1893. A fossiliferous deposit at Stone on the Hampshire Coast. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, 49, 344. By Clement Reid. [Key paper on Lepe Beach, recording the Interglacial deposit and the discovery of an elephant tusk]

Reid, C. 1905. The island of Ictis. Archaeologia, 59, 218-288. By Clement Reid, Esq., F.R.S. [This considers the possibility that the Isle of Ictis was the Isle of Wight (Vectis) with an ancient land connection of Bembridge Limestone (see Reid's map). There is mention of Stone Point, Lepe. The the text follows:]

The Island of Ictis.
By Clement Reid, Esq. F.R.S.

So much has already been published about the ancient trade with Britain for tin, and the accounts given by Diodorus Siculus and Caesar have so often been discussed, that it would appear as if no further evidence were obtainable. It has seemed also as if there were unfortunate contradictions between the classical authorities, which made their statements untrustworthy, or at any rate too vague and too little exact to be of value.

Perhaps approaching the subject from a different side, I may be able to show that the ancient writers can be literally depended on, and that their descriptions are thoroughly in keeping with each other, and with what we now know to have been the physical condition of Britain at and before the date at which they wrote.

The accounts given by ancient writers of the trade with Britain will be found excellently summarised by Professor W. Ridgeway in his "Greek Trade-Routes to Britain." It is unnecessary to go over this ground again, and I need only refer to the supposed discordance between the different writers, and between .them and what it was supposed that we knew of the physical geography of Britain 1,900 years and more ago.

The difficulties that have always been felt in reconciling the records were practically these: Mictis, Ictis, and Vectis seem to refer to the same island near Britain; and Mictis and Ictis are distinctly recorded as shipping places for the tin, by. Timaeus (flor. 350-326 B.C.), and by Diodorus Siculus, perhaps following

Posidonius (about 90 B.C.). Vectis is the name of the Isle of Wight in Roman times. But Pliny, quoting Timaeus, says" that the island of Mictis, in which the tin is produced, is distant inwards from Britain six days' voyage, and that the Britons sail to it in vessels made of wicker-work covered with 'hide' ". Six days' coasting from the mouth of the Exe would amply suffice to bring boats to the Isle of Wight, for the prevailing summer wind is favourable. The Isle of Wight and . more easterly districts of the south of England were politically part of Gaul, perhaps even at that early date; the tin-producing" Britain" was' apparently outside the dominion of the Belgae, and must have been Devon and Cornwall. A . coasting trade of this sort would go direct to the Isle of Wight side of the Solent, and therefore there is no mention of the causeway alluded to by Diodorus, :writing at a later date. The account given by Diodorus Siculus is different, and here comes in the . principal difficulty which I desire to deal with. I quote from Professor Ridgeway's translation:

The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion are very fond of strangers, and, from their intercourse with foreign merchants, are civilised in their manner of life. They prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. The ground is rocky, but it contains earthy veins, the produce of which is ground down, sme1ted, and purified. They beat the metal into masses, shaped like astragali, and carry it to a certain island lying off Britain called Ictis. During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry, and they carry over into this island the tin in abundance in their waggons. Now there is a peculiar phenomenon connected with the neighbouring islands, I mean those that lie between Europe and Britain; for at the flood-tide the intervening passage is overflowed, and they seem like islands; but a large space is left dry at the ebb, and then they seem to be like peninsulas. Here, then, the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul; and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhone.

In this description the talk is of waggons, and apparently of an overland route, but nothing is said about the course taken before the Solent is reached. The author seems also to know nothing of the mining or metallurgy of tin. He speaks of beating the metal into masses (tin can only be cast), which suggests also - that the people from whom the information was obtained were the shippers, but not the producers of the tin. The account of the mines is very vague, and might apply either to shallow working on the decayed upper part of the lodes ("gossans") or to stream-works. There is no mention of the method of mining, nor of the washing which is so essential a part of the process in either case. Can it be that the inhabitants of Belerion neither desired nor chose to give information as to the country beyond, from they obtained the tin? It is curious that in this account there should be no hint as to the route taken to Ictis, except the causeway, which everybody must have known, including the foreign merchants.

The generalisation about other islands can be disregarded. The author, I believe, was quite right as to the only one on the trade route he was describing, but there is nothing to show that he was acquainted with any others, though certain of the Scilly Islands also would answer to his description, as far as being alternately islands and peninsulas. At the date he wrote St. Michael's Mount must have been an isolated rock rising out of a swampy wood.

An incidental remark by Caesar seems at first sight to add to the confusion, for he speaks of tin coming from the interior, which would scarcely be his description if he were referring to a coasting trade with Devon and Cornwall. He is right, I think, for he refers to the British part of the trade-route, perhaps implied but not described by Diodorus Siculus, who mentions only the causeway to Ictis and the route through Gaul. The British part also was an overland route, only reaching the coast at the Solent. Caesar was not speaking of the position of the mines, but of the metallic tin as brought to the port for shipping, and this tin came from inland. There is no evidence that the tin mines up to Caesar's time were in the hands of strangers, though the export trade apparently was so, and had been for a considerable period.

In the foregoing comments on the ancient descriptions it is assumed that Mictis and Ictis were the same island as Vectis, for only thus can the perfect consistency of the accounts be brought out. It now remains to deal with the evidence yielded by geology and physical geography, which together show that at the date we are dealing with there was no other spot which could answer to the description, and that then, though not now, the Isle of Wight fully answered to the peculiar sketch given by Diodorus Siculus.

It fell to my lot some years ago to revise the geological map of the northern part of the Isle of Wight for the Geological Survey, and later on I had to map the whole of the adjacent parts of the mainland. Though greatly interested in the changes which this coast has undergone, and is still undergoing, I did not immediately see the bearing of my work on the descriptions given by Caesar and by Diodorus Siculus of the tin trade in Britain and of the peninsula Ictis. But all the while I had in my hands the evidence that seemed to make it clear that when these authors wrote Vectis must have corresponded to the description given of Ictis.

If the geological map is studied it will be seen that the strata in the part of the Isle of Wight immediately east of Yarmouth form a basin or syncline, at the bottom of which lies the Bembridge Limestone, a rock which can form extensive pavement-like ledges on the foreshore. This basin, however, is now incomplete, the Solent having cut away its western lip, leaving a ragged ledge of limestone at Hampstead and another outcrop near Yarmouth. It may be objected that there is no visible ledge of rock on the foreshore at Yarmouth, and this is the case at present. The limestone has, however, an extensive outcrop near Thorley Street; but it happens to strike the coast just where the River Yar has cut a deep channel to below sea-level, thus destroying the visible continuity of the ledge. But if we follow the line of strike across the Yar the limestone reappears in Black Rock, a rock now only visible at low tide. Black Rock, however, is, I believe, the last remnant of the old causeway, in use at the time when Diodorus wrote.

Reids, 1905, hypothetical maps of the Ictis Causeway and the Solent River, Solent Estuaries, southern England

[To the reader! - I do not disagree with Reid's structural interpretation. However, I have said on the above diagram that the Pennington section testifies against the causeway theory. You may think otherwise, but I suspect that a causeway model incorporating the Pennington section implies a very late, minus 4m regression. Was that likely? Have you some other explanation of the Pennington section in relation to the hypothetical causeway? What about a Chesil-Beach tombolo analogue? Perhaps you will develop a new idea! - Ian]

It is obvious that the limestones of Black Rock and Hampstead Ledge are the same, and that the visible outcrops must once have swept round northward and southward near Yarmouth to close in the basin, for neither the limestone nor the overlying clays continue as far as the present coast-line of the mainland. On completing the geological map, as it would appear if the limestone still rose to the sea-level, we find, however, that the loop of rocky ledges must have reached the mainland coast of 2,000 years ago, though now it does not do so.

The way this conclusion was arrived at is as follows: From the known inclination of the strata the broken lip of the basin was completed and the approximate. position of the limestone at the sea-level was laid down on the geological map. This brought the loop of rock half-way across the Solent. Next, the rapidly-wasting coast-line was restored to its calculated position of 1,900 years ago, and it was found possible to reconstruct it with a fair approximation to the truth; at any rate the probable error is not of such a magnitude as seriously to affect our argument. The known rate of loss just outside the Solent on the mainland is approximately three feet per annum, which would give a strip something over a mile in breadth destroyed in 1,900 years. Accepting the loss for the last few centuries as giving a fair average, I have reconstructed the coast-line outside the Solent, for a date about the beginning of our era (see map, fig. 1).

The next step is more difficult. It is obvious that at the present day a shingle-spit, at the end of which lies Hurst Castle, greatly protects the shores of the Solent from the heavy swell driven in by the west wind, and that, though the less protected Isle of Wight shore is wasting rapidly, little or no change is now taking place on the mainland opposite; in fact under the lee of Hurst Castle mud flats are growing. The spit of shingle on which Hurst Castle stands has not, however, been long there. Like the similar accumulation of beach at Dungeness, it is of rapid and comparatively modern growth, having only begun to form after the subsidences of the land which carried the "submerged forests" beneath the sea-level. The last of these subsidences, since which the relative level of sea and land in the south of England appears to have remained unchanged, happened in late Neolithic times. I get a date for it of about 1500 B.C., or a few centuries earlier, from rough calculations as to loss of land, or rate of accumulation of mudflats and sand-dunes, in different parts of England. Before this beach of Hurst Castle had extended seaward, the rate of loss on the mainland just inside the Solent must have been nearly as rapid as that outside; after the beach grew, the loss ceased.

As long, however, as part of that ledge of limestone remained intact, its effect must have been to turn the strong tidal currents northward and make them impinge against the coast of the mainland, thus causing rapid waste. At the same time the tidal scour would prevent the accumulation of the Hurst Castle bar, which would not begin to accumulate till the ledges were cut away and the channel had shifted southward.

Notwithstanding all these apparent complications, which seem to render so uncertain the date of the isolation of the Isle of Wight, the dominant factor is a very simple one. The rate of destruction of the isthmus depends on the general rate of loss of the coast-line to the west, and this is a known quantity. The coastline for the beginning of our era has been restored, and except for a rocky causeway there was then no connection between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. Let us add another strip of land, representing the loss for six more centuries, and instead of a more rocky causeway we find a wide low isthmus, representing an old water-parting in the ancient Valley of the Solent, as I will now attempt to show.

The view above expressed is very different from that of other writers 'who have suggested that when Diodorus wrote the Isle of Wight as still joined to the mainland. They postulate a ford between Stone and Gurnard Bay. But this, for geological reasons, is, I think, quite impossible. Even if the water were sufficiently shoal, I am sure that nowhere except near Yarmouth would it be possible to take carts across. The bottom, from Hurst Castle to Spithead, except at the one causeway, would everywhere be soft clay or loose sand.

The objection will probably be made that long before the Roman period the Isle of Wight must have become an island, for between it and the mainland must have run the deep channel of the Solent, which is often, though I think wrongly, considered to be the outlet through which the old rivers draining into Southampton Water once discharged. This idea involves an entire misapprehension of the course. of the ancient River Solent, once one of the largest rivers of Britain. As it involves also the possibility of any such continuous rocky naturally paved causeway as I describe, it will be necessary to go back to a still earlier period, and trace step by step what is known of the history of this old river.

In the course of the Geological Survey of the Hampshire Basin, a fairly complete history of this river has been worked out; but as far back as 1862 it was pointed out by the. Rev. Fox that the Solent was nothing but a continuation of the ancient valley of the Frome, which had been breached laterally by the sea between the Needles and the Isle of Purbeck. The same view was taken by Sir John Evans in 1874 and by Mr. Strahan and myself in 1889, after the completion of the new geological map of the Isle.

In later Memoirs of the Geological Survey, and in the geological article in the Victoria County History of Hampshire, I have given further details of this old river system, and fixed more exactly the date of the changes; but the only one of these Memoirs that need here be referred to is that containing a restoration of the whole river system, here copied. This map (fig. 2) may be taken as our starting point, as it shows the physical geography of this part of England about the date when man perhaps first appeared in Britain.

When the sea breached the wall of Chalk Downs which once stretched continuously from the Needles to the Purbeck Hills, it cut off the whole of the head-waters of the Solent, diverting them directly into the sea. The rest of the river continued to flow eastward, down the slope of the valley; but some of the tributaries nearest to the new gap would tend to take the shortest course to the sea, so that there would be two streams in the valley of the Solent, flowing in opposite directions from a low watershed or divide. Where would this divide be? At first sight it looks as if there would be a steady movement of the divide eastward as the gap widened; but, taking into account the nature of the rocks and their dips, I think that this would not be the case. The position of the divide would soon be fixed, and it would remain practically unaltered till it was finally broken through by the sea on either side.

In reconstructing the old valley, we must remember that when the breach was made into its side the river flowed at a higher level than the present Solent. We therefore need not expect to find a deep and very ancient channel on the valley to the east. The deepening of the present Solent seems to have taken place at a much later period, probably in the main when the land stood 50 feet higher than now and the lowest of the" submerged forests" (probably also Neolithic) was growing. The position of the divide being already fixed at that period, subaerial denudation would not much affect it, though it might, probably would, greatly deepen the valley on either side.

This brings us back to the question: What fixed the position of the divide? There is only one continuous rock-bed amid the strata which crop out along this valley between the Avon and the Solent, and this bed is the Bembridge Limestone. Though not a very hard rock, it is much harder than anything above and below. A short distance south-east of Yarmouth it forms an actual escarpment and bold feature for two or three miles. It was, I believe, the continuation of this escarpment across the valley that probably fixed the limit of the gradual "capture" of successive portions of the main valley by streams flowing westward instead of eastward. They cut back to this scarp, but no further, the dip slope of the limestone fixed the direction of the flow of the water.

The escarpment of the limestone must once have been further west than now; but only a short distance during the periods we are dealing with. The dips show that the basin must end fairly abruptly, and the limestone scarp must always have been east of the Avon Water, which has its outlet close to Hurst Castle. Thus for a long period the water-parting across the Solent Valley was formed by the escarpment of the Bembridge Limestone, and it lay between the Avon Water and the Lymington River.

It has already been pointed out that the River Yar cuts a deep and wide channel through the limestone at Yarmouth. As its waters turned eastward on entering~ the main valley, it must also have breached the north-eastern lip. of the basin in that direction, so that no continuous causeway would have connected Hampstead Ledge with the mainland. This brings us back to the point that at one spot only is it possible for a continuous land-connection to be found; on each side of it the main valley would be either occupied by sea or by streams of sufficient magnitude to be troublesome.

We thus see that from the western side of the Yar a natural stone causeway extended to the mainland opposite Pennington marshes (fig. l), but that this causeway at the time Diodorus wrote was already being lowered by the sea to such an extent. that it was only available at low tide. As soon as the sea once got round the northern edge of the rocky ledge, the tidal scour would be so great as rapidly to undermine it, and to widen and deepen the gap, rendering the causeway useless. When this took place the crossing would naturally be moved to a ferry further east and out of reach of the heavy swell let in through the new gap. For various reasons the neighbourhood of Stone Point seems to be the most probable locality for this later crossing.

The landing-place on the mainland from the causeway must have lain between the Avon Water and the Lym. Almost certainly it would have been near Woodside Farm, for there only does the firm gravel come right down to the water's edge. From this point the road for wheeled vehicles, or probably for pack-horses, is obvious; it must run across the firm open ground and avoid the oak forests and marshes. It must strike inland past Pennington, Durns Town, Burley, and cross the Avon at Ringwood. From this point there seem to be two routes across the downs, both meeting at Blandford. Beyond Blandford the road probably passes under Hod Hill, where it crosses the Stour, and so on probably by Cerne Abbas, Maiden Newton, Crewkerne, Chard, and the Black Down Hills to Dartmoor and Cornwall. This route I suggest as the "line of least resistance", which a trade route must be. Between the Isle of Wight and Maiden Newton it seems the obvious road; west or the latter place the country becomes more difficult, and I do not yet know it well enough to trace the road.

The question will perhaps be asked, why did the merchants take the trouble to carry the tin across to the Isle of Wight, when according to your own map there were abundant harbours on the mainland? These harbours, however, are all more or less exposed to the prevalent south-west wind, and are sheltered by no high land. Besides this, the harbours outside the Solent were probably always rendered dangerous by bars of sand and shingle. On the south side of the Solent, on the other hand, there existed an ideal series or landlocked sheltered harbours, extending from Yarmouth to Brading, and in most of these harbours rocky ledges must have formed natural staithes or "hards". very convenient for shipping. 'The mainland harbours would show at low tide mud-flats or sandbanks, not so convenient for wheeled vehicles.

Footnote by Reid: The coast line is that calculated for about the year 100 B.C. The present coast is marked by broken lines; but on the north side of the Solent wide mud-flats are found, and the high-water and low-water lines are now far apart. The coast was cut back and the limestone removed, but afterwards this loss of land was partly made good by the accumulation of mud.

[End of paper]

Reid, C. 1913. Submerged Forests. Pp.viii + 129, University Press, Cambridge.
Reyno1ds, P.J. 1985. The Nature, Oriqin and Distribution of Quaternary Brickearth and Associated Soils in South Hampshire. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London. By K.S. Reynolds of the Rothhampstead Experimental Station, Harpenden.

Reynolds, P.J. 1987. Lepe Cliff: the evidence for a Pre-Devensian brickearth. pp. 21-22 in: Barber, K.E. 1987, Wessex and the Isle of Wight, Field Guide. Prepared to accompany the Annual Field Meeting held at Southampton and Cowes, 21-25 April, 1987. 180 pp.
[no abstract is given, so the complete text, without references follows:]

The low cliff at Lepe (SZ457984) provides a section through the 5m terrace of Everard (1954). Stratified Plateau Gravel forms the cliff and is underlain by interglacial (Ipswichian?) deposits. Above the gravels lies a 40 cn thick layer of brickearth with palaeoargillic features (Avery, 1980), which is in turn covered by 80 cm of a younger brickearth displaying a normal argillic soil profile.
The upper brickearth varies fran a dark greyish brown (lOYR 4/2) sandy silt loam in the Ab horizon to a strong brown (7.5YR 4/6) clay loam in the Bt horizon. It is very slightly flinty throughout, and the sand content (expressed on a clay free basis to eliminate the effects of clay illuviation) increases fran 33 percent in the Ah horizon to 45 percent in the Bt. Thin sections show a weakly oriented insepic plasmic fabric in the Bt horizon; all the illuvial clay is yellowish-brown, and about 75 percent of it is in undisturbed argillans.
Tba lower brickearth is discontinuous and is separated fran the upper by a line of flints; it is a silty clay containing 37 percent clay and only 10 percent sand (on a clay-free basis). It is strong brown (7.5YR 5/8) and yellowish brown (lOYR 5/6 ), and contains rare, extrenely fine, dark red (2.5YR 5/6) mottles. In thin section it has a moderately reorganised masepic plasmic fabric with both yellowish brown and egg-yellow illuvial clay. About 10 percent of the yellowish brown illuvial clay is undisturbed compared to 43 percent of the egg-yellow. The soil is very densely packed and made up largely of fossil aggregates or patches of soil with circular (orbiculic) oriented sand and silt grains. The fine sand and coarse silt fractions of this brickearth contain the same minerals as the same size fractions of the upper brickearth, but the anounts of weatherable species (feldspar, muscovite, glauconite, hornblende, chlorite) are much less.
Tre upper brickearth is a typical example of the aeolian silty sands which mantle the Plateau Gravel throughout south Hanpshire (Reynolds, 1985). These are Late Devensian (Wintle, 1981) and part of a sheet of Late Devensian loess extending across southern Britain (Catt, 1978). The south Hanpshire deposits are sandier than other loess because the loess-carrying winds deflated sand from locally exposed Tertiary deposits and mixed it with the far-travelled silt. The upward decrease of sand content in the Lepe Cliff brickearth is typical of the New Forest area, and probably reflects diminishing supplies of local sand as the loess covered the Tertiary deposits.
The lower brickearth is clearly distinguishable from the upper on colour, particle size, mineralogy and micromorphology. the micromorphology provides clear evidence that it is pre-Devensian: the egg-yellow clay is typical of pre-Devensian soils, and the fact that it is more disrupted than the (Flandrian) yellowish brown clay points to a period of cryoturbation between the two episodes of clay illuviation. Cryoturbation is also indicated by the fossil aggregates, though as the aggregates contain no papules of egg yellow clay this episode could have occurred prior to the earlier episode of clay illuviation. The smaller amounts of weatherable minerals in the lower brickearth suggest they were removed by a longer period of weathering. If the higher clay content of the lower brickearth can be attributed to weathering and/or illuviation, its particle size distribution suggests it was derived from loess. Several deposits with similar texture and soil characteristics occur in various terrace levels in the New Forest, and this distribution is best explained by aeolian deposition.
The late Ipswichian or early Devensian age suggested for the gravels at Lepe (Brown et al., 1975) does not fit the evidence for a pre-Devensian interglacial soil lying above. The various soils at the site suggest instead that the deposits with typical Ipswichian pollen dates from a warm period which was separated from the Devensian by a climatic cycle involving periglacial loess deposition followed by interglacial pedogenesis.
[End of text. Seven references follow. Avery, Brown, Catt, Everard, Reynolds, Wintle.]
Sanders, I. 1927. Ancient road from Purlieu to Lepe. Papers and Proceedings of Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, 10, Pt. 1, 35-39 with sketch map. By Ingalton Sanders, F.R.I.B.A. [Notes - Roman Road evidence and interpretation with a sketch map. The author refers to ancient gravel excavation at Pits Copse near Stone Farm. There was formerly a small estuary here which is now infilled. Note that Dr Anthony Long has worked on the similar infilled estuary at Stanswood. Sanders suggested that the flats up to Stone Farm were once an open estuary up which vessels laden with stone were able to sail. After unloading they required balast for the return voyage and they took gravel from pits, the extent of which is evidence of of the large amount of traffic according to the author.
Stagg, D.J. 1980. Archaeological and historical aspects of change in the Solent coastline. Page 19 only in: Burton, J.D. 1980. The Solent Estuarine System: an Assessment of Present Knowledge. N.E.R.C. Publications Series C, No. 22 November 1980, ed. J.D. Burton, 100 p. NERC.
    Extract: Following the initial drowning of the Solent valley in the Mesolithic period and the subsequent post-glacial rise in sea level which lasted into Neolithic times, a further rise of approximately 5m in sea level has occurred in the Southampton area (Oakley, 1943). Such a rise is of sufficient amplitude to have inundated a strip of coastal plain approximately 800m wide, with the resultant loss and destruction of archaeological material such that any conclusions must be based on evidence from marginal sites, chance finds and historical tradition.
    The earliest evidence for inundation is to be found in the distribution of Mesolithic settlements which, by the occurrence of tranchets on both sides of the submerged channel, were riverine sites based on the ancient Solent River (Rankine, 1956). Many early fishing settlements must have been abandoned to flooding although the only evidence for this has come from dredging activities. For example, in 1887 a quartzite macehead with hour-glass perforation, was found 6m below the mud during the construction of the Ocean Dock, while some flint flakes and a stiletto-like bone (Rankine, 1956), variously described as a needle (Shore and Elwes, 1889) or a dagger (Dawkins, 1900) were also discovered. However, these finds have since been lost, and it is not clear whether they were found in association. Furthermore, an unpatinated flint flake showing no secondary flaking was found in 1930 at a depth of 5.5m beneath the Southampton Corporation Baths (Godwin and Godwin, 1940). There is no evidence of further prehistoric settlement of the low-lying coastal areas, and the suggestion made by Sumner (1917) that the Solent Valley was dry and inhabited during the Bronze Age has been discounted. This theory was based entirely upon the misidentification of the Mesolithic macehead as belonging to the Bronze Age period (Dawkins, 1900).
    Traditionally there was a land connection between the Isle of Wight and the mainland as late as 90 B.C. Diodorus Siculus refers to the island of Ictis, which is assumed to be the Isle of Wight, where "during the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry, and they carry over into this island the tin in abundance in their waggons. Here, then, the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul." Reid (1905) who carried out part of the geological survey of the Isle of Wight, was of the opinion that such a causeway was an outcrop of Bembridge limestone between Yarmouth and Pennington. Irrespective of whether the early tradition regarding Cornish tin is correct, there certainly was a later link between the industry and the Solent. A petition of 1689 refers to the carrying by sea, almost time out of mind, of charcoal from the New Forest to Cornwall for the use of refiners of tin (Cal. S.P.Dom., 1689).
    The situation of two major Roman sites in the Solent, Clausentum on the River Itchen and the fort at Porchester, are such as to suggest that little or no change has occurred in the coastline at these points. On the other hand, a Roman building at Gurnard has been destroyed by cliff erosion since 1864 (Witherby, 1962). From Gurnard a supposed Roman road crossed the Island to the Roman fort at Carisbrooke, and on the mainland a suggested Roman road runs down to Lepe (William-Freeman, 1915). Doubts have been expressed as to the Roman dating of this feature, although it is referred to as the great road, "per magnum cheminum", as early as 1218 (New Forest Perambulation, 1218), and it is difficult to put forward any alternative suggestions as to its purpose.
    Very little is known of the early associations between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. As early as the 7th century, land on the Island was granted to Winchester (Finberg, 1964), and at the time of the Domesday Survey several detached hides were held by mainland manors (Finn, 1962). It may possibly be that the association originated in a Jutish expansion from the Island in search of grazing land in the New Forest.
    Although Shore (1893, 1905) refers to an inundation by the sea about A.D. 419, and to encroachments in south-east Hampshire in the 11 th century and at Hayling Island and Alverstoke in the 13/14th century, the continued existence of such features as the mediaeval salterns near Lymington suggest very little permanent loss of land in historic times. Even though the 16th century St Andrew's Castle has now been destroyed, its foundations are still visible on the Hamble foreshore. [References follow.]
Stuart , A.J. 1976. The history of the mammal fauna during the Ipswichian/last Interglacial in England. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. vol 276, No 945. [This includes discussion of fauna from Stone Point.]

Tomalin, D. 2000. Geomorphological evolution of the Solent seaway and the severance of the Isle of Wight: a review. Pp. 9 - 19 in: Collins, M. and Ansell, K. 2000. Solent Science - A Review. Proceedings in Marine Science, 1. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 385pp including location and subject indexes. ISBN - 0-444-504-65-6, hard cover only. By David Tomalin, County Archaeologist, Isle of Wight Council, Newport, Isle of Wight. This is a particularly interesting paper considering both the legend of an ancient causeway to the Isle of Wight when known as Ictis, and stimulating ideas about possible drainage westward of the Lymington River and the Western Yar. The subsections are:
Early Questions concerning the Severance of the Isle of Wight.
Thomas Webster and the Wight-Purbeck Ridge.
William Fox and the Solent River Theory.
Clement Reid's Umbilical or Isthmus.
Marine Geophysical Prospecting.
The Loss of an Arm.
Present Knowledge, Outstanding Lacunae

No abstract is provided so the start of introduction is given here as an example of the text:
    "It was more than 400 years ago when the first historians and geographers began to enquire into the nature and origins of the Solent as an open east-west seaway and the date at which it had precipitated the severance of the land of Wight The first recorded questions are those of William Camden, whose first edition of Britannia (published in 1586) included the mischievous speculation that the Isle of Wight, with its Roman name of Vectis, might perhaps be equated with a prehistoric island, otherwise known as Ictis.
    A British island called Ictis had been cited in the 1st century BC, by the classical writer Diodorus Siculus; however, we should note that in describing Britain or "Prettanike," this classical historian commonly used the expressions "we are told" or "they say". The style of Diodorus indicates that he was relating the accounts of others and, unlike the earlier Greek explorer Pytheas, who had visited the Cornish coast in the 3rd century BC, it seems that he could offer no personal experience. His gatherings tell of an island close to the shore of southern Britain where the natives could cross at low tide whilst drawing wagons loaded with tin ore or ingots. These consignments were loaded into visiting ships bound for the Atlantic seaboard ofGaul (Rivet & Smith, 1979). Diodorus added that it was people dwelling near the promontory of Belerion (Land's End) who prepared this tin and transported it to the tied island of Ictis".. [continues]

Thomas, J. 2008. Dorset Stone. Dovecote Press, by Jo. Thomas, 128pp. ISBN 978-1-904-34963-1. Price (2009) 17 pounds, 95 pence. A very well illustrated (colour illustrations) guide book to the building stones of Dorset, their geological origins and their use in historic buildings. This is a very readable book with a good select bibliography. For Purbeck limestones see p. 61 et seq.
Tucker , M.E. 1976. Quartz replaced anhydrite nodules ('Bristol Diamonds) from the Triassic of the Bristol District. Geological Magazine, 113 (6), pp. 569-574. [This paper does not refer to Lepe Beach but is given here only in relation to potato stones, like the example found in the Pleistocene gravel at Fields Heath.]
Walden, A.T. 1981. The Statistical Analysis of Extreme High Sea-levels Utilising Data from the Solent Area. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Southampton University. [Not necessarily on Lepe]
Wenban-Smith, F.F. and Horsfield, R.T. 2001. Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River, Proceedings of the Lithic Studies Society day meeting held at the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton on Saturday 15th January, 2000. Lithic Studies Society Occasional Paper No. 7 (2001). Published by the Lithic Studies Society, c/o British Museum (Quaternary Section), Franks House, 38-46 Orsman Road, London, N1 5QJ. ISBN 0-9513246-3-2, ISSN 0950-9208. 111 pp., paperback. Contents: 1. Introduction - F.F. Wenban-Smith; 2. The Geology of the Solent River System - J.K. Dix; 3. The Pleistocene evolution and Palaeolithic occupation of the Solent River - D.R. Bridgland; 4. The meeting of the waters: raised beaches and river gravels of the Sussex Coastal PlainIHampshire Basin - M.R. Bates; 5. Some Earlier Palaeolithic find-spots of interest in the Solent region - D.A. Roe; 6. As represented by the Solent River: handaxes from Highfield, Southampton - F.F. Wenban-Smith; 7. Priory Bay, Isle ofWight: a review of current knowledge - R.D. Loader; 8. The Broom pits: a review of research and a pilot study of two Acheulian biface assemblages - G.D. Marshall; 9. The Lower Palaeolithic of the Solent: 'site' formation and interpretive frameworks - R.T. Hosfield; 10. Prospecting the Palaeolithic: strategies for the archaeological investigation of Middle Pleistocene deposits in Southern England- K. Wilkinson. .. Start of Introduction by F.F. Wenban-Smith: " The papers in this volume originated as a series of presentations for the Lithic Studies Society day meeting Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River held on 15 January 2000, and hosted by the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) in the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton. The germ of the meeting came from a small investigation into the collections of Palaeolithic material from terraces in the Highfield area of Southampton (Chapter 6). This investigation highlighted the distinctive nature of at least some material from the Solent region, and suggested it was high time more attention was focused upon studying the prolific evidence from this relatively neglected region, which, along with East Anglia and the Thames Valley, is one of the three main areas in Britain where surviving Palaeolithic evidence is concentrated (cf. Roe 1981: 132-3)." .. The first geological paper is: Dix, J.K. 2001.The Geology of the Solent River System. Pp. 7-14 in: Wenban-Smith, F.F. and Horsfield, R.T. 2001. Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Solent River. Abstract: The geology of the Hampshire Basin is dominated by Cretaceous Chalk and the, unconformably, overlying muds, sands and gravels of the early Tertiary deposits. Relatively gentle deformation of these sequences has resulted in the creation of the natural basin identified today and within which is contained the catchment of the Solent River system. This river system developed throughout the Pleistocene and as such is believed to have dominated the landscape for this entire period. There has been significant modification of the river system by every interglacial highstand, most recently with the Holocene transgression which has flooded the lower reaches of the Devensian version and as such has caused considerable re-working of the currently submerged deposits. Associated with this river system is a sporadic but well documented assemblage of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts. The existence and distribution of these assemblages is intimately linked to the underlying geology and the basin's more recent history. A synthesis of the Caenozoic and Pleistocene history is therefore presented as a backdrop to more detailed discussions presented within the rest of this volume. A short discussion of the key future research issues related to our understanding of the Solent River system will be presented.[end of abstract].
Velegrakis , A. 2000. Geology, geomorphology and sediments of the Solent System. Pp. 21-43 in: Collins, M. and Ansell, K. 2000. Solent Science - A Review. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 385pp.
West, I.M. 1980. Geology of the Solent Estuarine System In: The Solent Estuarine System: an assessment of present knowledge , N.E.R.C. Pubication Series C. No. 22: 6-18.

West, I.M. 2000. Erratics of the Hampshire-Sussex Coast. - www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/erratic.htm. - Erratics, including sarsen stones and granodiorite like that of the Channel Islands, are found associated with Ipswichian (late Pleistocene interglacial) deposits on the low-level coastal plain. They are usually attributed to deposition from stranded floating ice.

West, R.G. 1987. Interglacial deposits at Stone Point: the 1960 investigation. Page 15 only in: Barber, K.E. 1987, Wessex and the Isle of Wight, Field Guide. Prepared to accompany the Annual Field Meeting held at Southampton and Cowes, 21-25 April, 1987. 180 pp. Abstract and complete text, except for three references: "Pleistocene estuarine sejiments on the foreshore at Stone were described by Clement Reid in 1893. In 1957 the same sediments were investigated by West and Sparks (1960 ), and this investigation was extended to demonstrate the local stratigraphy by Brown et al in 1975. Figure 1 shows the location of the site and of the pollen diagram of Figure 2. A lower gravel, of pre-Ipswichian age, rests on Tertiary sejiments, and is overlain by estuarine clayey sediments which include horizons of more organic sediment representing less estuarine conditions. The pollen diagram indicates an Ipswichian (IpIIb) age for these sediments, with Qercus, Pinus, Acer and Corylus, important taxa in the local forest vegetation at the time. The stratigraphy, macroscopic plant remains (including Aster tripolium, Beta maritima) and molluscs (including Hydrobia) indicate the sequence was formed under conditions within a tidal regime, and so are informative on IpIIb sea level. Succeeding the temperate stage deposits is a gravel considered by Brown et al (1975) to be part of a later wider fluvial aggradation." [see West and Sparks (1960) and Brown et al. (1975) for more information.]

West, R.G. and Sparks, B.W. 1960. Coastal interglacial deposits of the English Channel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B., Biological Sciences, No. 701, Vol. 243, pp. 95-133, 27th October, 1960, with an Appendix on the Mammalia by A.T. Sutcliffe. Published by the Royal Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1. Communicated by H. Godwin, F.R.S. Addresses of authors: R.G. West - Subdepartment of Quaternary Research, University of Cambridge; B.W. Sparks, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. Abstract: Fossiliferous Late-Pleistocene deposits on the foreshore of the English Channel at Selsey (Sussex), Stone (Hampshire), and near Arromanches (Calvados), have been investigated. At each site analyses of pollen, macroscopic plant remains and Mollusca have been made and from these vegetational, faunal, environmental and climatic conditions have been reconstructed. ... At Selsey, it is shown that the deposits, which lie in a channel cut in Eocene rocks, are of Ipswichian (Eemian or Last) Interglacial age. Pollen analysis of the sediments of the channel filling show that they formed during zones b, c, d, e and f of this interglacial, which show the succcession from open parkland vegetation to birch-, to pine, to oak-dominated forests. Analysis of the macroscopic plant remains and of the molluscs suggests a rapid climatic amelioration at the beginning of the interglacial, so that by the beginning of zone f there are indications of summer warmth exceeding that of the present day in the area. In the upper part of the channel filling, estuarine deposits overlie freshwater deposits. It is shown that the marine transgression causing the change was taking place in zone f and was probably responsible later for the raised beach deposits which overlie the channel deposits and form the cliff at Selsey Bill. ... At Stone pollen analysis shows that brackish water deposits, below present high tide level were formed in zone f of the Ipswichian Interglacial. At that time Quercus, Pinus, and Acer were the chief trees forming the forest in that region. The macroscopic plant remains and the Mollusca indicate that the deposit was formed under saltmarsh conditions. As at Selsey, the raised beach gravel found overlying the interglacial deposit is related to the same marine transgression that produced the brackish water conditions... Near Arromanches, at St Come de Fresne and Asnelles-Belle-Plage, two deposits showing a change from marine to freshwater sediments were investigated. The analysis of pollen and the Mollusca showed the prevalence of pine forest and its replacement by open steppe-like conditions as the marine regression occurred. After the regression, limon covered the freshwater deposits. The fossiliferous deposits are tentatively correlated with zone i of the Eemian Interglacial... The relative land and sea-level changes indicated by the deposits are considered. It is concluded that in the English Channel, during the Ipswichian (Eemian) Interglacial, sea-level rose above its present height in zone f and fell below it during zone i. The Selsey-Brighton raised beach and the Normannien II raised beach are correlated with the same marine transgression. It is pointed out that if the Selsey-Brighton raised beach is to be correlated with the Monastirian II level of 7-8m, then this level should be correlated with the Ipswichian (Eemian) Interglacial. [end of abstract.]


White, H.J.O. 1915. The Geology of the Country near Lymington and Portsmouth. Geological Survey Memoir. Printed for H.M. Stationery Office. Author: Harold, J. Osborne White. Explanation of Geological Map Sheets, 330 and 331, mainland (i.e. excluding the Isle of Wight). Original price, one shilling and six pence. (copies are availabe from Amazon etc.)
The part of the mainland covered by the New Series one-inch Sheets 330 and 331 is included in the Old Series Sheets 10, 11, 15, 16, and was surveyed by H. W. Bristow, with much help from 0. Fisher. These maps were published in 1855-64. The re-survey on the six-inch scale was canned out by Mr. C. Reid, and was published, in hand-coloured form, on the New Series Sheets 330 and 331 in 1893. These maps, and the Special Map of the Isle of Wight, which covers part of the same ground, were colour-printed in 1903.
The area has furnished classic names to British Geology, such as Barton, Bracklesham, Brockenhurst and Hordle (or Hordwell), but in consequence perhaps of the surpassing claims of the neighbouring Isle of Wight had not been made the subject of any separate memoir, except that some well-sections had been published in the Memoirs dealing with the Water Supply of Hampshire and Sussex. Mr. Osborne White, who had recently completed a Memoir on the adjacent Sheet 316, was fortunately able once more to give his services. In the present volume he has not only summarised what was already known of the local geology, but has contributed many valuable observations made by himself.
We are indebted to the Council of the Geological Society for permission ta reproduce Figures 3, 4, 5 and 13 from a paper by Mr. C. J. A. Meyer, and Figures 8 and 9 from a paper by Messrs. Gardner, Keeping and Monckton, published in the Quarterly Journal of that Society.
A. Strahan, Director. Geological Survey Office, 28, Jermyn Street, London, S.W., 26th February, 1915.


Wintle, A.G. 1981. Thermoluminescence dating of Late Devensian loesses in southern England. Nature, London, 289, 479-480.
Witherby , C.T. (1962). The Gurnard Roman Villa. Papers and Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, 22, 107-11. [This is on the Isle of Wight opposite Lepe Beach, and therefore relevant to the discussion regarding a Roman road to Lepe. The building has now been destroyed by coast erosion.]

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[if out of position, then reposition the map by going to Lepe in the West Solent, north of the Isle of Wight, southern England.]




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See also the continuation of this webpage at Lepe:

Lepe Beach and Stone Point

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Copyright © 2018 Ian West, Tonya Loades and Joanna Bentley. All rights reserved. This is a purely academic website and images and text may not be copied for publication or for use on other webpages or for any commercial activity. A reasonable number of images and text may be used for non-commercial academic purposes, including field trip handouts, lectures, student projects, dissertations etc, providing source is acknowledged.

Disclaimer: Geological fieldwork involves some level of risk, which can be reduced by knowledge, experience and appropriate safety precautions. Persons undertaking field work should assess the risk, as far as possible, in accordance with weather, conditions on the day and the type of persons involved. In providing field guides on the Internet no person is advised here to undertake geological field work in any way that might involve them in unreasonable risk from cliffs, ledges, rocks, sea or other causes. Not all places need be visited and the descriptions and photographs here can be used as an alternative to visiting. Individuals and leaders should take appropriate safety precautions, and in bad conditions be prepared to cancel part or all of the field trip if necessary. Permission should be sought for entry into private land and no damage should take place. Attention should be paid to weather warnings, local warnings and danger signs. No liability for death, injury, damage to, or loss of property in connection with a field trip is accepted by providing these websites of geological information. Discussion of geological and geomorphological features, coast erosion, coastal retreat, storm surges etc are given here for academic and educational purposes only. They are not intended for assessment of risk to property or to life. No liability is accepted if this website is used beyond its academic purposes in attempting to determine measures of risk to life or property.

Dr Ian West, author of these webpages

Webpage - written and produced by:

Ian West, M.Sc. Ph.D. F.G.S.


at his private address, Romsey, Hampshire, kindly supported by Southampton University,and web-hosted by courtesy of iSolutions of Southampton University. The website does not necessarily represent the views of Southampton University. The website is written privately from home in Romsey, unfunded and with no staff other than the author, but generously and freely published by Southampton University. Field trips shown in photographs do not necessarily have any connection with Southampton University and may have been private or have been run by various organisations.