Natural England - Old Town Railway Cutting SSSI, Swindon, Wiltshire

Old Town Railway Cutting SSSI, Swindon, Wiltshire

Railway cutting, exposure site.

Old Town Railway Cutting SSSI, Swindon, Wiltshire

Three complementary geological SSSIs in Swindon received the Face Lift treatment in a partnership between English Nature (now Natural England), Swindon Borough Council and Great Quarry Wildlife Group. The Old Town Railway Cutting, Okus Quarry and Great Quarry SSSIs all had sections cleared of vegetation and scree, and a sign-board about the geology and management of the site has been erected at Old Town Railway Cutting.

These quarries and railway cuttings expose limestones and sandstones of late Jurassic age. The lower part of the succession contains a variety of fossils, including bivalves and ammonites, providing evidence of a shallow and warm tropical sea in the area. Later, the sea retreated, leaving a complex of freshwater and saline lagoons and channels. These conditions are reflected in the different fossil fauna. The reappearance of marine fossils at intervals within the succession indicates occasional re-invasions by the sea. This group of sites provides important evidence of the changing environmental conditions in this part of Britain at the close of the Jurassic Period.

The Jurassic Portlandian sections at these sites are now re-exposed, not only enhancing their scientific value but also their educational value, as Okus Quarry lies within school grounds. The challenge is now to promote these sites to the local community to raise awareness of the important local geology.

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