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The coprolite discovered in the crag at Felixstowe in the early 1840s became a much sought after mineral for the manufacture of superphosphate, the new fertiliser of the 19th century. (White, (1844), 'History of Suffolk') Research by the local historian, Walter Tye, pointed out that they had been used in this area for many generations.


 A Suffolk farmer first discovered the fertilizing value of the Suffolk red crag. I prefer that John Kirby, (Suffolk Traveller,1764) of Wickham Market, should tell the story in his own inimitable way :-

”In a Farmers Yard in Levington, clofe on the left as you enter from Levington into the faid Chapel Field of Stratton Hall, was dug the firft Crag of Shell that have been found ufeful for improving the land in this and other Hundreds in the neighbourhood. For though it appears from Books of Agriculture, that the like manure has long been ufeful in the Weft of England, it was not ufed here till this Difcovery was cafually made by one Edmund Edwards, about the year 1718. This man, being covering a Field with Muck out of his yard, and wanting a load of two to finifh it, carried fome of the Soil that laid near the Muck, tho‘ it looked to him no better than Sand; but obferving the Crop to be beft where he laid that, he was from thence encouraged to carry more of it the next year; and the sucess he had, encouraged others to do the like." There is no need for me to explain that Edmund Edwards‘ discovery was soon broadcast throughout south-east Suffolk, where the crag was found. Large quantities were very soon carried and scattered over the heaths and sheep-walks, where the soil had always been hungry and inadequately fed."

(Walter Tye, 'Birth of Fertilizer Industry, 1930, Fisons Journal, p4.)


It is unknown whether the coprolites were exploited in this parish. There is the possibility that they were worked on land farmed by John Dawson of Nacton. In the 1861 census he  described himself as a “Farmer and Merchant of 1,600 acres in Nacton and Levington employing 40 men and 9 boys.” (Suff.R.O. Nacton’s 1861 census)


Fisons, one of Suffolk’s major fertiliser companies, started its business in this area and set up offices in Levington in the 1950s, a hundred years or so after the coprolite industry started. They were very much involved in the diggings and manure/fertiliser processing business. When they were taken over by YARA a web page on their history was included on their site.