© Bere Regis Village  2003  -  2017

Bere Regis Village

Geological History

Bere Regis Village Website Bere Regis Village website
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The   furthest   that   one   can   go   back   in   tracing   the   history   of   a   parish,   is   to   the   very   creation   of   the   earth,   because   this   8,312   acres   of   the   earth's surface,   now   known   as   the   parish   of   Bere   Regis,   is,   of   course,   as   old   as   the   earth   itself. This   period   of   time   between   the   formation   of   the   earth   and when   man   first   appeared   on   the   scene   is   the   province   of   the   geologist,   and   the   number   of   years   involved   is   so   vast   as   to be   incomprehensible   in   human   terms,   being   measured   in   thousands   of   millions   of   years.   It   is   perhaps   ironic   that   this tremendous   span   of   time   and   the   far-reaching   earth   movements   which   occurred   during   it,   although   having   had   a   more profound   effect   upon   the   appearance   of   the   parish   than   anything   man   has   done   since,   should   receive   the   most   cursory treatment   in   a   parish   history   such   as   this. After   all,   men,   women,   trees,   buildings   and   roads   have   come   and   gone   over   the years,   often   leaving   no   trace,   but   the   topographical   features   such   as   Black   Hill,   Bere   Down   and   the   river   valleys   have remained   virtually   unchanged   in   outline   for   thousands   of   years.   If   one   could   somehow   or   other   miraculously   go   back   for   a day   to,   say   the   year   2000   BC,   there   would   be   no   man-made   features   or   trees   which   one   could   locate   from   a   present   day knowledge of the parish, but the familiar outlines of Black Hill & Woodbury Hill would be clearly recognizable. The   Geologist   derives   his   information   from   a   study   of   the   layers   of   rocks   or   materials   of   which   the   earth's   crust   is   formed   and   is   bale   to   determine not   only   how   the   layers   were   formed   but   at   what   period.   Geologically   there   are   three   principal   categories   of   materials   -   Igneous,   Sedimentary   & Metamorphic   -   but   in   the   South   of   England   we   are   concerned   only   with   sedimentary   materials,   which   are   found   in   areas   which   have   at   some   time been   under   the   sea,   and   which   have   solidified   from   sediments   deposited   on   the   sea   bed;   they   include   sandstone,   limestone,   clay,   chalk,   sand   and gravel.   A   map   of   the   world   of   500   million   years   ago   would   look   very   different   from   a   modern   map   -   many   present   day   land   areas   would   be   seas and   vice   versa.   This   process   of   the   uplift   of   some   areas   and   the   compensatory   lowering   of   others   was   a   continuous   process,   and   many   areas were   alternately   dry   land   and   sea   beds   many   times.   Indeed,   the   process   is   still   continuing,   but   so   gradually   as   to   be   imperceptible   even   over   a span of several hundred years. Such   an   area   was   the   greater   part   of   England,   and   each   time   it   became   a   sea   bed   a   different   type   of   material   was   deposited   upon   it. Consequently   there   are   now   layers   of   different   materials   lying   one   upon   the   other,   some   of   them   only   a   few   feet   thick,   whilst   others   may   be   1,000 feet   (300   metres)   or   more.   In   addition   to   these   large   movements   of   the   earth's   crust,   there   were   smaller   wrinklings,   forming   alternating   hill   ranges and   lower   areas,   and   the   action   of   the   weather   coupled   with   rigorous   climatic   changes,   combined   to   erode   away   some   of   the   upper   layers particularly when they lay on the tops of the hill ranges, with the result that different materials occur on the surface in different parts of the country. Some   100   million   years   ago   this   part   of   the   world   was   experiencing   a   tropical   climate,   when   the   land   was   covered   with   dense   jungle-like   forests.   In these   condition   large   reptiles   flourished   and   roamed   the   muddy   expanses   of   land   freshly   raised   from   the   sea,   leaving   fossilised   skeletons   and footprints   which   have   been   unearthed   in   modern   times   from   the   limestone   beds   at   Lyme   Regis,   Swanage   and   elsewhere.   In   contrast   to   these tropical   conditions   there   were   a   series   of   Ice Ages,   the   most   recent   ending   only   a   few   thousand   years   ago,   when   the   artic   ice   cap   reached   as   far south   as   the   Thames   valley.   Although   the   ice   cap   itself   did   not   extend   as   far   as   this   parish,   the   climate   was   so   cold   as   to   preclude   the   growth   of any   vegetation,   and   the   severe   temperatures   would   have   played   a   large   part   in   rounding   the   contours   of   the   chalk   which   is   particularly   susceptible to frost. The   last   major   uplift   of   land   in   the   South   of   England   left   a   large   part   of   Dorset   &   Hampshire   covered   with   the   most   recent Teritary   deposits   of   gravel,   sand   and   clay,   lying   on   the   second   oldest   layer,   the   chalk.   Much   of   this   top   layer   has   since   become eroded   away,   leaving   the   chalk   exposed,   and   the   line   marking   the   edge   of   the   remaining   Teritary   beds   and   the   exposed   chalk divides   this   parish   in   two,   roughly   from   east   to   west   (See   Map   below).   The   chalk   layer   at   this   point   has   a   gentle   slope downwards    towards    the    south,    disappearing    beneath    the   Teritary    beds    but    rising    up    again    further    south    to    re-emerge dramatically above them as the Purbeck Hills. The   Tertiary   beds   have   therefore   been   eroded   away   from   the   higher   levels   of   the   coastal   hill   range   and   the   central   Dorset heights   into   the   basin   between. The   Drawing   below   shows   a   south-north   section   through   the   parish   at   which   point   the   northern limit of the Tertiary beds forms the northern slopes of Black Hill. There   are,   of   course,   older   layers   underlying   the   chalk   which   appear   on   the   surface   further   inland   and   at   the   coast   -   for   instance   the   limestone beds   at   Portland   &   Swanage   -   but   these   beds   are   so   far   below   the   surface   under   this   parish   that   they   need   not   concern   us.   In   the   village,   a   hole would   have   to   be   over   1,000   feet   (300   metres)   deep   before   any   thing   other   than   chalk   would   be   encountered.   The   same   thing   would   apply   on Black   Hill,   except   that   about   100   feet   (30   metres)   of   gravel,   sand   &   clay   would   have   to   be   dug   through   before   starting   on   the   1,000   feet   of   chalk. See Map below. Although   these   differing   materials   have   since   become   blanketed   in   a   covering   of   soil,   they   make   their   presence   felt on   the   surface   in   the   type   of   vegetation   which   the   overlying   soil   naturally   supports   and   this   is   clearly   evident   in   this parish   where   the   northern   part   consists   of   the   rolling   chalk   downs   with   a   predominately   grassy   covering   and   where the   southern   part   is   covered   by   the   characteristic   heathland.   Until   a   hundred   years   or   so   ago,   little,   if   any,   of   the heathland   was   cultivated   and   the   bracken   and   heather   covered   landscape   extended   to   the   line   on   the   Geological Map   (See   Map   3   paragraphs   above),   covering   large   parts   to   the   east   and   south   of   the   village   which   are   now   well established   farm   land.   In   spite   of   this   cultivation   which   is   gradually   reducing   the   heath   areas,   the   presence   of   the   immediately   underlying   Teritary beds   is   always   apparent   in   the   hedgerows   where   the   indigenous   bracken   continues   to   thrive.   The   extent   of   the   original   heath   area   can   therefore often be observed by this means. There   can   be   no   doubt   that   Bere   Regis   itself   is   situated   on   the   chalk,   as   when   even   a   small   trench   is   excavated,   the   earth   seems   to   'bleed'   with white   blood   and   the   resulting   wound   remains   for   many   weeks   until   grass   heals   the   scar.   Several   Dorset   villages   occur   on   or   near   the   junction   of the   chalk   and   the   heath   and   this   may   be   attributed   to   two   reasons   -   firstly,   a   good   supply   of   spring   water   frequently   occurs   in   such   situations   and secondly,   there   are   in   close   proximity   two   former   vital   building   materials,   chalk   &   clay,   used   in   building   cob   walls. Actually,   these   two   materials   still form a vital part of the building industry, as they are the basic ingredients of cement. River   valleys   occur   in   almost   all   types   of   geological   strata   and   they   have   over   the   years   been   instrumental   in   carrying   away   the   eroded   materials to   the   sea,   there   to   be   deposited   on   the   present-day   ocean   beds   in   a   continuing   cycle.   In   so   doing   the   river   valleys   themselves   have   become gradually   filled   with   deposits   of   gravel   and   alluvial   soil,   leaving   now   only   a   comparatively   small   stream   to   meander   its   way   to   the   sea.   All   these rivers,   even   the   very   small   ones,   were   formerly   very   much   wider   and   deeper   and   their   original   width   can   be   clearly   seen   in   the   level   areas remaining on either side of them, marking the extent of the valley gravel or alluvial depositis. There   are   two   rivers   within   the   Parish,   the   Bere   Stream   coming   down   through   the   chalk   hills   from   Milton   Abbas   and   reinforced   by   the   springs   at Roke   Pond   and   the   River   Piddle   running   through   the   Piddle   Valley   from   Alton   Pancras.   Both   therefore,   originate   in   the   chalk   area.   After   entering the   heath   belt   they   converge   and   join   within   the   parish   just   above   Hyde   and   continue   as   one   to   Poole   Harbour   via   Wareham.   These   two   rivers carve   fertile   valleys   through   the   heath,   causing   Black   Hill   to   be   in   effect   an   island   of   heathland   and   forming   a   large   flat   triangular   area   of   alluvial soil in the angle where they join. Doddings, Chamberlaynes & Hyde House can be considered as marking the angles of this triangle. During   1959   the   British   Petroleum   Exploration   Company   (now   BP)   drilled   a   borehole   in   Bere   Wood   over   a   mile   deep   and   the   following   is   a summary of the borehole log:
L L
© Bere Regis Village  2003  -  2017

Bere Regis Village

Geological History

Bere Regis Village Website
Click / tap image for a larger view Click / tap yellow circle for full size image in a new tab
The   furthest   that   one   can   go   back   in   tracing   the   history   of   a   parish,   is to   the   very   creation   of   the   earth,   because   this   8,312   acres   of   the earth's   surface,   now   known   as   the   parish   of   Bere   Regis,   is,   of   course, as   old   as   the   earth   itself.   This   period   of   time   between   the   formation   of the   earth   and   when   man   first   appeared   on   the   scene   is   the   province   of the   geologist,   and   the   number   of   years   involved   is   so   vast   as   to   be incomprehensible   in   human   terms,   being   measured   in   thousands   of millions   of   years.   It   is   perhaps   ironic   that   this   tremendous   span   of   time and    the    far-reaching    earth    movements    which    occurred    during    it, although   having   had   a   more   profound   effect   upon   the   appearance   of the   parish   than   anything   man   has   done   since,   should   receive   the   most cursory    treatment    in    a    parish    history    such    as    this.   After    all,    men, women,   trees,   buildings   and   roads   have   come   and   gone   over   the years,   often   leaving   no   trace,   but   the   topographical   features   such   as Black   Hill,   Bere   Down   and   the   river   valleys   have   remained   virtually unchanged   in   outline   for   thousands   of   years.   If   one   could   somehow   or other   miraculously   go   back   for   a   day   to,   say   the   year   2000   BC,   there would   be   no   man-made   features   or   trees   which   one   could   locate   from a   present   day   knowledge   of   the   parish,   but   the   familiar   outlines   of Black Hill & Woodbury Hill would be clearly recognizable. The   Geologist   derives   his   information   from   a   study   of   the   layers   of rocks   or   materials   of   which   the   earth's   crust   is   formed   and   is   bale   to determine   not   only   how   the   layers   were   formed   but   at   what   period. Geologically   there   are   three   principal   categories   of   materials   -   Igneous, Sedimentary   &   Metamorphic   -   but   in   the   South   of   England   we   are concerned   only   with   sedimentary   materials,   which   are   found   in   areas which    have    at    some    time    been    under    the    sea,    and    which    have solidified    from    sediments    deposited    on    the    sea    bed;    they    include sandstone,   limestone,   clay,   chalk,   sand   and   gravel. A   map   of   the   world of   500   million   years   ago   would   look   very   different   from   a   modern   map   - many   present   day   land   areas   would   be   seas   and   vice   versa.   This process   of   the   uplift   of   some   areas   and   the   compensatory   lowering   of others   was   a   continuous   process,   and   many   areas   were   alternately   dry land   and   sea   beds   many   times.   Indeed,   the   process   is   still   continuing, but   so   gradually   as   to   be   imperceptible   even   over   a   span   of   several hundred years. Such    an    area    was    the    greater    part    of    England,    and    each    time    it became   a   sea   bed   a   different   type   of   material   was   deposited   upon   it. Consequently   there   are   now   layers   of   different   materials   lying   one upon   the   other,   some   of   them   only   a   few   feet   thick,   whilst   others   may be    1,000    feet    (300    metres)    or    more.    In    addition    to    these    large movements   of   the   earth's   crust,   there   were   smaller   wrinklings,   forming alternating   hill   ranges   and   lower   areas,   and   the   action   of   the   weather coupled   with   rigorous   climatic   changes,   combined   to   erode   away   some of   the   upper   layers   particularly   when   they   lay   on   the   tops   of   the   hill ranges,   with   the   result   that   different   materials   occur   on   the   surface   in different parts of the country. Some   100   million   years   ago   this   part   of   the   world   was   experiencing   a tropical   climate,   when   the   land   was   covered   with   dense   jungle-like forests.   In   these   condition   large   reptiles   flourished   and   roamed   the muddy   expanses   of   land   freshly   raised   from   the   sea,   leaving   fossilised skeletons   and   footprints   which   have   been   unearthed   in   modern   times from   the   limestone   beds   at   Lyme   Regis,   Swanage   and   elsewhere.   In contrast   to   these   tropical   conditions   there   were   a   series   of   Ice   Ages, the   most   recent   ending   only   a   few   thousand   years   ago,   when   the   artic ice   cap   reached   as   far   south   as   the   Thames   valley.   Although   the   ice cap   itself   did   not   extend   as   far   as   this   parish,   the   climate   was   so   cold as    to    preclude    the    growth    of    any    vegetation,    and    the    severe temperatures    would    have    played    a    large    part    in rounding     the     contours     of     the     chalk     which     is particularly susceptible to frost. The   last   major   uplift   of   land   in   the   South   of   England left   a   large   part   of   Dorset   &   Hampshire   covered   with the   most   recent   Teritary   deposits   of   gravel,   sand   and clay,   lying   on   the   second   oldest   layer,   the   chalk.   Much of    this    top    layer    has    since    become    eroded    away, leaving   the   chalk   exposed,   and   the   line   marking   the edge   of   the   remaining Teritary   beds   and   the   exposed   chalk   divides   this parish   in   two,   roughly   from   east   to   west   (See   Map   below).   The   chalk layer   at   this   point   has   a   gentle   slope   downwards   towards   the   south, disappearing   beneath   the   Teritary   beds   but   rising   up   again   further south to re-emerge dramatically above them as the Purbeck Hills. The   Tertiary   beds   have   therefore   been   eroded   away   from   the   higher levels   of   the   coastal   hill   range   and   the   central   Dorset   heights   into   the basin    between.    The    Drawing    below    shows    a    south-north    section through   the   parish   at   which   point   the   northern   limit   of   the   Tertiary   beds forms the northern slopes of Black Hill. There     are,     of     course,     older     layers underlying   the   chalk   which   appear   on   the surface   further   inland   and   at   the   coast   - for     instance     the     limestone     beds     at Portland   &   Swanage   -   but   these   beds   are   so   far   below   the   surface under   this   parish   that   they   need   not   concern   us.   In   the   village,   a   hole would   have   to   be   over   1,000   feet   (300   metres)   deep   before   any   thing other   than   chalk   would   be   encountered.   The   same   thing   would   apply on   Black   Hill,   except   that   about   100   feet   (30   metres)   of   gravel,   sand   & clay   would   have   to   be   dug   through   before   starting   on   the   1,000   feet   of chalk. See Map below. Although   these   differing   materials   have   since   become   blanketed   in   a covering   of   soil,   they   make   their   presence   felt   on   the   surface   in   the type   of   vegetation   which   the   overlying   soil   naturally   supports   and   this is   clearly   evident   in   this   parish   where   the   northern   part   consists   of   the rolling   chalk   downs   with   a   predominately   grassy   covering   and   where the   southern   part   is   covered   by   the   characteristic   heathland.   Until   a hundred   years   or   so   ago,   little,   if   any,   of   the   heathland   was   cultivated and   the   bracken   and   heather   covered   landscape   extended   to   the   line on   the   Geological   Map   (See   Map   3   paragraphs   above),   covering   large parts    to    the    east    and    south    of    the    village    which    are    now    well established   farm   land.   In   spite   of   this   cultivation   which   is   gradually reducing   the   heath   areas,   the   presence   of   the   immediately   underlying Teritary    beds    is    always    apparent    in    the    hedgerows    where    the indigenous    bracken    continues    to    thrive.    The    extent    of    the    original heath area can therefore often be observed by this means. There   can   be   no   doubt   that   Bere   Regis   itself   is   situated   on   the   chalk, as   when   even   a   small   trench   is   excavated,   the   earth   seems   to   'bleed' with   white   blood   and   the   resulting   wound   remains   for   many   weeks   until grass   heals   the   scar.   Several   Dorset   villages   occur   on   or   near   the junction   of   the   chalk   and   the   heath   and   this   may   be   attributed   to   two reasons   -   firstly,   a   good   supply   of   spring   water   frequently   occurs   in such   situations   and   secondly,   there   are   in   close   proximity   two   former vital    building    materials,    chalk    &    clay,    used    in    building    cob    walls. Actually,    these    two    materials    still    form    a    vital    part    of    the    building industry, as they are the basic ingredients of cement. River   valleys   occur   in   almost   all   types   of   geological   strata   and   they have   over   the   years   been   instrumental   in   carrying   away   the   eroded materials   to   the   sea,   there   to   be   deposited   on   the   present-day   ocean beds   in   a   continuing   cycle.   In   so   doing   the   river   valleys   themselves have   become   gradually   filled   with   deposits   of   gravel   and   alluvial   soil, leaving   now   only   a   comparatively   small   stream   to   meander   its   way   to the   sea. All   these   rivers,   even   the   very   small   ones,   were   formerly   very much   wider   and   deeper   and   their   original   width   can   be   clearly   seen   in the   level   areas   remaining   on   either   side   of   them,   marking   the   extent   of the valley gravel or alluvial depositis. There   are   two   rivers   within   the   Parish,   the   Bere   Stream   coming   down through   the   chalk   hills   from   Milton Abbas   and   reinforced   by   the   springs at   Roke   Pond   and   the   River   Piddle   running   through   the   Piddle   Valley from   Alton   Pancras.   Both   therefore,   originate   in   the   chalk   area.   After entering   the   heath   belt   they   converge   and   join   within   the   parish   just above   Hyde   and   continue   as   one   to   Poole   Harbour   via   Wareham. These   two   rivers   carve   fertile   valleys   through   the   heath,   causing   Black Hill   to   be   in   effect   an   island   of   heathland   and   forming   a   large   flat triangular   area   of   alluvial   soil   in   the   angle   where   they   join.   Doddings, Chamberlaynes   &   Hyde   House   can   be   considered   as   marking   the angles of this triangle. During   1959   the   British   Petroleum   Exploration   Company   (now   BP) drilled   a   borehole   in   Bere   Wood   over   a   mile   deep   and   the   following   is   a summary of the borehole log:
L L