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A Forgotten Landscape – and Dinosaur Bones – Uncovered in South Glos

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 02/08/2016

A family fossil hunt has shone a light on the pre-history of the Severn Vales and bones that have been buried in South Gloucestershire for millions of years.

The hunt took place at Manor Farm Quarry near Aust on Sunday 24 July.  It was hosted by South Gloucestershire Council’s Heritage Lottery funded A Forgotten Landscape project. The event was held to celebrate the restoration of the quarry face, where fossil-rich terraces have been cleared of vegetation to allow continued use of the site for research and for visits.

Over the years, hundreds of fossil remains have been recovered from the Manor Farm Quarry beds including ichthyosaur, plesiosaur and pterosaurs.
A number of local families took part in the dig. Amanda Phelan was there with her son, Eli. She said: “It was fantastic. My son was completely overwhelmed when he found some shark teeth. But his favourite bit by far was finding the fossilised poo!”

Cleo Lake, with her son Fitzroi, said: “The people leading the event were very knowledgeable – we wouldn’t have been able to find out so much about the fossils without coming today. It’s also given us some good ideas for free things to do in the area.”

Manor Farm Quarry and Aust Cliff are designated Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) and also considered nationally important, as they include the best site in Britain for late Triassic/early Jurassic marine reptile and insect fossils. The collections of fossils, known as the ‘bone bed’, dates back some 210 million years to when Europe formed part of a large land mass on the equator and was a landscape of mudflats, sandbanks and warm tropical lagoons.

Councillor Heather Goddard, who chairs the Environment and Community Services Committee, said: “We are very fortunate to have such a rich source of nationally significant pre-historical material in South Gloucestershire and I am so pleased that we have been able to play a part in preserving it for future generations.”

Simon Carpenter of the Avon RIGS Group commented: “Manor Farm Quarry is a hugely important site and I’d like to express the RIGS Group’s thanks to the owners for allowing the work to be carried out and to Plantforce Ltd for their care, professionalism and giving their time and expertise to the work. We are delighted that the site’s rich and varied geology will remain accessible for decades to come.”

Speaking on behalf of the owners, Jenn Dickens said: “It is a wonderful site and offers so much for education and scientific study. It is always pleasing to see the enjoyment families and children get from days like this and I’m delighted that the recent restoration work will maintain the Quarry’s interest for years to come.”

Manor Farm Quarry is privately owned and access is strictly through organised events only and with the kind permission of the owners.
A Forgotten Landscape is a Landscape Partnership Project which seeks to engage local communities in conserving, restoring and exploring the Lower Severn Vale Levels.  More about their free projects and activities can be found at

Fossil hunt

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