Levington is a location on the River Orwell, where London Clay is exposed in large cliffs and on the foreshore. It has yielded a large number of reptile remains, including one complete skeleton.
♦ Either: from the large roundabout where the A12 meets the A14, turn off towards Levington. Shortly after, you will reach a junction with roads leading to Felixstowe to the east and Ipswich to the west. Head towards Ipswich. Shortly after, there is a road signposted to Levington, which you should take.
♦ Or: not far after the Orwell Bridge heading north, you will reach the first major junction turn off for Ipswich. This is also signed posted to Levington. Follow signs for Levington until you reach a wooded area where the road veers north. At this point, there should be a turn off to Orwell Park School. Take this road and you will pass a church.
♦ On passing the school, you will see a sign for a ‘T’ junction and a picnic sign. The road will turn into a narrow unmade track through some woods. Follow this until you reach a car park. From here, there is a short footpath to the shore. Levington is to the Left.
♦ Ref: 52.00109°N, 1.24246°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – Levington is a popular location for anyone wishing to collect London Clay fossils. The tall cliffs yield a large number of sharks’ teeth and reptile remains. Collecting is best done during scouring conditions or after a winter’s high tide.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – Although this location is suitable for children, they kept away from the mud flats and areas of soft clay.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Levington is easy to get to and the location is not too far to walk to. In fact, it is very good for families and children.
TYPE: – Levington boasts tall cliffs of London Clay. You will probably not find much in the cliffs themselves, but a combination of tide, rain and wind sieves the fossils from the clay for you. All you need to do is look along the foreshore.
From the London Clay, sharks’ teeth are the most common finds, but fish, reptile remains and bivalves can also be found. The London Clay also throws up occasional other surprises, such as crustaceans. Most fossils can be found on the foreshore especially within areas of fine shingle and London Clay. The fossils are washed from the London Clay cliffs and the foreshore. Check the large blocks of heavy London Clay, which were used many years ago for buildings, including a Roman villa. The blocks often contain fossils.
Between Levington and Nacton in the area where there is a small half metre cliff made of glacial deposits, flints can be seen covering the foreshore.
The cliff face shows a shaley stratification, with sub-horizontal (dipping slightly west) dark and yellow horizons. This is the lowermost unit at outcrop in the region and is the Harwich Formation, of the Thames Group, at the base of the London Clay
As you walk to Levington, the beds change to London Clay, which also becomes exposed on the foreshore.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and knowledge of tide times is essential. The London Clay often extends far out at low tide. The mud flats are extremely dangerous and areas of soft clay can take you by surprise. In the past, there has been one death as the result of a person becoming stuck in the sand and clay.
The best advice is to always tread carefully. If planning to visit during winter months, take a long stick to prod the ground before you walk on it. Stay away from the mud flats completely. If possible, take someone else with you and ensure you have a mobile phone.
The fossils from Levington are usually found on the foreshore, but blocks of hard London Clay also contain fossils, so it is best to take a pick. However, for most fossils, you will only need good eyes.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – Levington