Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June 18 2006. a) The Ingatestone. The oldest geological and historical object on display at Ingatestone Church is the yellowish silica cemented sandstone or quartzite, glacial erratic, which has a size and position on the churchyard suitable for assisting people to remount horses there. When A. E. Salter guided the Geologist’s Association to Ingatestone in 1906 (see their proceedings) he claimed that this was a Roman milestone, The Ingatestone, which gave its name to the village. At least two objections can be made despite the existence of the straight Roman Road, now old A12, just west of the churchyard. Romans used cylindrical dressed stone pillars, with inscriptions about emperors and distances cut into them in a suitably civilised manner, not erratics potentially available from Boulder Clay 400 m to the north. Secondly in the Domesday book the manor held by the Saxon nuns of Barking Abbey, which probably contained the church dedicated to St. Edmund and St. Mary, and three adjacent manors which were held by secular Saxons before 1066, were just termed Inga. These other manors probably included Fryerning, where the church is also dedicated to St. Mary, like the Abbey of the Nuns at Barking. St. Edmund was killed in 869 and legends have his body being transported to and from London from Bury St. Edmunds in 1016, presumably along the A12, and rested at the nuns new church at Inga. On the other hand, there is evidence that in 1777 the cross roads forming the nucleus of the village, about 50 yards north of the stone contained the English 23 miles from London stone, which would correspond to the position of the Roman 25 miles from London Stone (their miles being 142 yards less than an English one of 1760, and the baseline or route from London perhaps slightly different). So perhaps this glacial erratic became a less formal marker?

B) London Clay concretions and Barking Abbey. The next historically oldest stories at Ingatestone Church are present in the north wall of the nave, of early Norman age like most of Fryerning Church according to architectural books. Actually these walls look more like the fabric of the late Saxon Paglesham Church and could have been built for the Nuns before Norman windows etc. were put in. Fryerning Church is also dedicated to St. Mary and shows abundant ferricrete Pleistocene gravel blocks, plus Roman bricks and the large isolated flints and other cobbles locally available from the earlier Pleistocene Old Mead deposits. These features are reproduced in Ingatestone Church where I managed to find some additional calcareous claystone fragments, lacking veins, but otherwise resembling the London Clay septaria of eastern Essex church walls. It is difficult to prove that source with glacial deposits so close, but there is no evidence that they are not from the London Clay and had a typical matrix colouration of greyish orange in the Mansell classification, with numerical colours recorded on separate adjacent stones of up to 120 mm length as 10YR 7/4, 10YR7/2, 10YR 7/6 and 10R 6/2. What is significant is that I could not see them in the much larger area of the same fabric of Fryerning; despite looking for them and being familiar with them in the east. True septarian claystones, of a different appearance, probably crop out in the uppermost Claygate Member at Fryerning and would be more common in adjacent lower ground near Ingatestone. However, it s more likely that these stones were probably imported with the ferricrete along the River Wid and Roman Road from Chelmsford.

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