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28 October 2014
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OUTDOORS
You are in: Berkshire > Outdoors > Thames Travelling > Stage 1
Hand axes
Palaeolithic hand axes like those found in the gravel terraces.
© British Regional Geology, London and the Thames Valley by M.G. Sumbler 1996.
Thames Travelling
Begin the walk by leaving King's Meadow car park walking towards the River Thames. You will walk past the old King's Meadow Lido and along the northerly edge of King's Meadow playing fields, joining the path alongside the River, walking towards Sonning.
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Terraces rising away from the River Thames
Caversham Park
Caversham Park in the distance

Look across the river to the north, and see the hills above Caversham (“Caves Ham”), deriving its name from the medieval, and possibly older, mines which were sunk there.

Old Reading was a town largely built of flint, which was extracted from the Chalk bedrock, which forms the hills.

The mansion of Caversham Park - home to BBC Monitoring and BBC Radio Berkshire - has, to its right, a large white scar in the hillside. This is a quarry in the chalk.

The hills are blanketed with river gravels much older than those on the present flood plain. They sit on a series of terraces which rise like a set of steps up from the present river. The older steps are the higher steps. The terrace at 60–80 feet (approx. 20–25m) above the present river, famously yielded hundreds of Palaeolithic hand axes, together with the bones of mammoth, horse, deer and many other animals.

Caversham Park
Palaeolithic hand axes
© British Regional Geology, London and the Thames Valley by M.G. Sumbler 1996.

These occur in sediments that formed between about 300,000 and 450,000 years ago, and the implements were probably made by Neanderthal pre-cursors Homo heidelbergensis.

There is a large gravel pit on the opposite side of the river. Gravel extraction in the Thames Valley provides an important resource for the construction industry. And the lakes generated can provide a range of amenities, like boating, sailing, and wildlife areas.

MANY THANKS TO PROFESSOR BRUCE SELLWOOD OF READING UNIVERSITY FOR ALL OF HIS HELP WITH THIS WALK

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SEE ALSO
BBC Berkshire Outdoors
BBC Berkshire Way
Natural History EVENTS
BBC Berkshire galleries - your pictures of the Royal County
On bbc.co.uk
Netley Shoreline Walk
Wallingford Wander
BBC Science & Nature
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On Science & Nature
Fox illustration, on Science & Nature
More walks through time and amazing wildlife.
Find another walk
Explore wildlife habitats
The TV series:
British Isles, a Natural History
Visit Open2.net's Natural History section
Snail
Get more from your walk,
with the Open University.
bullet point Get active - the Great Snail Hunt
bullet point What does that mean? - a natural history glossary
bullet point Get into nature - the science you need to know
bullet point How do they know that? - explore nature's secrets
bullet point Become a Landscape Detective - Free Leaflets!

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