Top-of-hill beach is tip of ancient ocean

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LAYERS of sand from an ancient beach have been revealed to the naked eye in a pit’s first excavation since 1978.

The Little Heath Pit Restoration Project has exposed gravels and sand deposited from a sea that existed about 2.6million years ago.

Dr John Catt, who led the excavation for Hertfordshire Geological Society, said: “Most of South East England would have been underwater at that time. Little Heath and the peaks of the Chilterns would have been the few areas out-of-water then.”

The gravel and sand had originally been dug from the pit, now 180 meters above sea level, during the First World War for road surfacing and sandbags.

An notice at Little Heath Pit, near Potten End, reads: “Since the pit was last excavated in 1978 the sands and gravels became eroded and badgers moved in forming a number of setts.

“This made it difficult to see the layers clearly and understand the pit’s geology.”

Geologists hope the new excavation, done last month, will reveal the exact date of when the shore was there. They are still researching the site.