Late-glacial remains of woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) from Shropshire, UK: stratigraphy, sedimentology and geochronology of the Condover site



Scourse JD, Coope GR, Allen JRM, Lister AM, Housley RA, Hedges REM, Jones ASG & Watkins R (2009) Late-glacial remains of woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) from Shropshire, UK: stratigraphy, sedimentology and geochronology of the Condover site. Geological Journal, 44 (4), pp. 392-413.

In 1986 remains of an adult woolly mammoth, Manunuthus primigenius (Blumenbach), were discovered at Norton Farm Pit, Condover, south of Shrewsbury, UK. Preliminary stratigraphical investigations indicated that this individual dated to the Devensian Late-glacial Interstadial, then the first evidence for survival of mammoth in Britain following the Last Glacial Maximum. Initial radiocarbon analysis continued this interpretation. Subsequent excavations in 1987/1988 recovered the remains of a further three juvenile mammoth individuals. All of these remains were found in the spoil heaps of overburden (ex situ) and their true stratigraphical context had to be reconstructed from the remnants surviving in the Pit. The 1987/1988 excavations enabled stratigraphical investigation of the site and submission of samples for radiocarbon ((14)C) dating, including the use of ultrafiltration pretreatment for bone samples, with the aims of reconstructing the geological and palaeoenvironmental evolution of the site and the sedimentary context of the unstratified mammoth remains. These results are presented here. This investigation indicates that the woolly mammoth remains at Condover derive from a dead-ice landscape dominated by eskers, kames and kettle-hole basins, and that the sedimentary sequence in which the mammoth remains were found forms the infilling of a kettle-hole basin. The sedimentary infilling and formation of the kettle-hole basin through ice block melt-induced subsidence were syngenetic. (14)C determinations indicate that basin infill was initiated prior to Greenland Interstadial 1, and probably in Greenland Stadial 2 i.e. before 14.7 ka BP and that it continued until the early Holocene, around 8 ka BP. The sedimentological and (14)C data indicate that the unstratified mammoth remains can be attributed to a dark grey clayey sandy silt (Unit Cl), which accumulated during the earlier part of Greenland Interstadial 1 (14 to 14.5 ka BP) within an actively subsiding slow-flowing, beaded, fluvial network characterized by channels and pools/lakes, and with relatively shallow marginal slopes. The sedimentary architecture indicates survival of the buried ice block into Greenland Interstadial I and final melting only towards the end of the Interstadial at ca. 12.65 ka BP.

Adult; analysis; ARCHITECTURE; bone; Britain; Channels; context; data; evidence; evolution; HOLOCENE; INDIVIDUALS; Landscape; NETWORK; SAMPLE; SAMPLES; SEQUENCE; Survival; UK

Geological Journal: Volume 44, Issue 4

Publication date31/07/2009
Place of publicationCHICHESTER, ENGLAND