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Ilford Mammoths

Articles > A-D > Barking > What's Beneath Our Feet
The Ilford brick pits, mammoths of Ilford, TQ43718609

Notes compiled by Gerald Lucy for Essex Field Club website


Recent research has revealed that the mammoths of Ilford (at least from Uphall Pit) are not, as was thought, an early form of the familiar woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius , but a late and slightly smaller form of the ‘steppe mammoth’ Mammuthus trogontherii. This conclusion has been reached by studying the molar teeth which have fewer enamel ‘plates’ and are therefore more  ‘primitive’ - something that did not go unnoticed by Antonio Brady. It is thought that this particular form of steppe mammoth, now often referred to as the ‘Ilford’ mammoth, was unique to this interglacial stage (the MIS 7  interglacial) and may have been the only type of mammoth living in Britain at this time; the more specialised woolly mammoth, with teeth adapted to cope with abrasive grasses common in colder climates, not arriving in Britain until later.

Ilford is one of the world’s foremost sites for fossils but, apart from the plaque in Ilford Lane and the items in Redbridge Museum, there is  nothing here to commemorate this. An initiative known as ‘The Ilford Mammoth Project’ is aiming to change this by erecting a life-size bronze sculpture of a mammoth on the Eastern Roundabout (Griggs Approach). The project is supported by  several prominent names in the world of palaeontology and a team of enthusiasts is currently engaged in raising the funds and obtaining the necessary permission. Further information can be found at www.theimponline.com.

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