A History of Grantchester in the County of Cambridge, England
This little work was undertaken in order to aid the funds for the enlargement and restoration of our parish church, which the increasing population has rendered necessary. Being entirely (with the exception of the binding, and the printing of the photographs) the work of one pair of hands, the printing press being also home made, and the wood cuts my first and only attempts in that line, I must ask my readers not to criticize it too severely.
Although the book is not a large one, it has taken a good deal of time and research to collect the information, but it has been a labour of love.
I must here offer my grateful thanks to those members of the University, and other friends who have kindly given me access to documents, and otherwise assisted me in my undertaking.
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It was probably before, and also during the time this washing away was being accomplished, which may have lasted thousands of years, that the great saurian reptiles lived here.
As the bottom was gradually raised, numerous shoals and islands would be formed, where would be deposited the sediment brought down from other parts.
In this large river, or arm of the sea, there were vast quantities of corals and sponges, many of these torn up by the streams and currents were rolled about until they had lost their original shape, and eventually covered up by the deposits of clay, or rather chalk marl brought down by the water. These sponges and corals, both being of a porous nature, were easily penetrated by the water, which appears to have held phosphate of lime in suspension, (probably derived from the decomposition of the bones of the great reptiles,) this being deposited in these soft substances produced what are now commonly, but incorrectly called coprolites. Some of these are still found in their original shape, and are seen to be coral, or sponge as the ease may be. By cutting them through, polishing, and examining them by the microscope, their internal structure is seen, and on examining those without any definite form, they are found to have the same internal structure, thus proving them to have been originally like them externally.
It seems probable that this stream, or strait, if such it may be called, was of great extent, for on referring to a geological map we find that the formation in which these fossils are found, (the upper greensand) extends from Lynn, through Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire, where it again enters the sea, so that there may have been an arm of the sea or strait, thus cutting England into two parts. If we allow the probability of this we can easily understand how such large quantities of chalk marl were de- posited on the top of the coprolites, and gave our parish its present form.
No doubt all this took ages to accomplish, but nature is not to be hurried, she proceeds slowly but surely, fulfilling the will of Him, with whom "a thousand years is as one day, and one day as a thousand years."
What occurred here during the long ages after these times we can only guess at; we may picture in our minds the vast primeval forests and marshes, in which roamed the wild oxen, wild boars, bears, wolves, deer, and many other creatures now unknown in this country, but whose remains are occasionally found.
The soil which our laborers plough and sow every year, was then being prepared for its present use, as spring and summer drew from the willing earth the trees, grass, and flowers, while the autumn and winter made them into the rich earth in which we now grow our corn.