Articles | Volume 29, issue 1
01 Apr 2010
 | 01 Apr 2010

Micropalaeontology reveals the source of building materials for a defensive earthwork (English Civil War?) at Wallingford Castle, Oxfordshire

Ian P. Wilkinson, Alison Tasker, Anthony Gouldwell, Mark Williams, Matt Edgeworth, Jan Zalasiewicz, and Neil Christie

Keywords: Wallingford, Cretaceous, provenance, foraminifera, ostracods

Abstract. Microfossils recovered from sediment used to construct a putative English Civil War defensive bastion at Wallingford Castle, south Oxfordshire, provide a biostratigraphical age of Cretaceous (earliest Cenomanian) basal M. mantelli Biozone. The rock used in the buttress – which may have housed a gun emplacement – can thus be tracked to the Glauconitic Marl Member, base of the West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation. A supply of this rock is available on the castle site or to the east of the River Thames near Crowmarsh Gifford. Microfossils provide a unique means to provenance construction materials used at the Wallingford site. While serendipity may have been the chief cause for use of the Glauconitic Marl, when compacted, it forms a strong, almost ‘road base’-like foundation that was clearly of use for constructing defensive works. Indeed, use of the Glauconitic Marl was widespread in the area for agricultural purposes and its properties may have been well-known locally.