There are two classic pits within Sudbourne Park. Both have become very overgrown in recent years, but sections are cleared from time to time to keep these SSSIs accessible and available for further research. Rich shell beds of Coralline Crag yield a variety of fossils, which can be easily collected from when sections are cleared.
♦ Sudbourne Park can be found to the northwest of Orford. The entrance is best accessed from the B1084. From the A12, head to Snape, then follow the road to Orford. At the Five-Cross Ways (a crossroads), take the B1084 west, then immediately take the road southwards to Sudbourne Hall (Sudbourne Park).
♦ At the bottom of the road, you will see the hall, with signs saying private parking. Park before this sign, along the verge. Walk a little way back up the road you came down and, on your left hand side (to the west), you should see the first pit on the opposite side of the field, which may have a visible pile of crag.
♦ To visit the second pit, walk down the road towards the hall and then take the road to the right (westwards). This joins the public footpath. Now, follow the public footpath along the road and then divert through the woods (to the north/right). The footpath will follow a track/road through the woods and then veer west (to your left). The pit is clearly seen on the left and the excavations can be seen from the footpath, a little further along.
♦ Ref: 52.109470, 1.519203
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – The Coralline Crag here is extremely rich in fossil bivalves and bryozoans, but the exposures can often become overgrown. However, the sites are refreshed from time to time.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – The first pit has a pile of crag that can be safely picked over by older children, as long as they do not climb the heap. Keep to the front side of the pile (that is, the back end of the pile slopes down into the overgrown pit). The second pit is not suitable for children, due to areas being filled with stagnant water, as a result of a locally high water table.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Both pits are easy to locate, but we recommend the use of OS Explorer maps to locate the two pits quickly. You can also park near to both, with easy access into each pit.
TYPE: – There are two very old and overgrown pits within Sudbourne Park. At the time of writing, the largest one (the second pit) had been recently excavated, although it is already showing signs of becoming overgrown. This pit is difficult to collect from, as there is little light under the dense trees. The material excavated has been piled up at the first pit, where it is much easier to collect from.
There are two pits within Sudbourne Park that can be visited. At the time of writing, a pile of Coralline Crag can be accessed from the first pit. This material has been dumped from excavations at the second, larger pit. This first and smaller pit has some clean faces, but is badly overgrown. However, the large pile makes for much easier and safer collecting than in the second pit.
The crag yields an abundant and diverse fossil fauna and the site is notable for the abundance of bivalves (Cardita and Arctica), as well as many other species of mollusc. Bryozoans are very common and include Cupuladria and occasional very large colonies of Meandropora.
The second pit, to the west of Sudbourne Park, is densely overgrown, with trees and shrubs. Occasionally, sections are excavated as part of the SSSI geological conservation of sites. Since the best and most fossil-rich beds of Coralline Crag are at deeper levels, areas are occasionally dug out using diggers. However, the local area has a high water table, so the pits quickly become filled with water. When left, these become stagnant and attract large numbers of mosquitoes, with the consequent risk of contracting Weil’s Disease. This is a disease you definitely want to avoid. Stay clear of stagnant water, wear latex gloves and wash your hands very carefully. In addition, avoid the area, if you have any cuts or wounds.
Fossils from the second pit are best collected from the loose material fallen from the upper faces (which are not so productive); or you should wait until the site is next excavated and/or water levels have fallen. You will probably find that the first pit is much easier to collect from and is without the SSSI restrictions.
This is the only Coralline Crag Formation (Pliocene) locality where unaltered sediments with original fossil content can be found. Therefore, it is an important site for the study of Coralline Crag faunas.
Common sense should always be used when visiting any site. Extreme caution should be taken at the first pit, because the best and most fossil-rich beds of Coralline Crag are at deeper levels, areas are occasionally dug out using diggers. The area has a high water table, so these pits quickly become filled with water. When left, these become stagnant and attract large numbers of mosquitoes, so there is a risk of contracting Weil’s Disease. Stay clear of this stagnant water, wear latex gloves and wash your hands very carefully. In addition, avoid the area, if you have any cuts or wounds.
Due to SSSI restrictions at this site, digging and hammering tools are not permitted. However, fossil shells can easily be collected from the heap next to the first pit. This material has been excavated from the second, larger pit.
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 – Sudboune Park