The petrified remains of a 145 million year old “fossil tree” on Tooting Common is to get some tender loving care with the council carrying out a restoration.

Tooting Common’s fossil tree was once part of the Purbeck Fossil Forest, an ancient submerged forest from Jurassic times, located to the east of Lulworth Cove in Dorset.

Fossilised tree trunks of this type were commonly encountered during the quarrying of building stones, notably Portland Stone. It was taken from there and presented to The Balham & District Antiquarian and Natural History Society by local Victorian developer Mr Alfred Heaver and placed on the common in 1898 by the London County Council.

Its placement in the park a legacy of the Victorian practice of placing geological curiosities on display as public attractions in urban parks.

The restoration is part of the Tooting Common Heritage Project aimed at rejuvenating the area and enhancing the overall heritage of this important southwest London open space.

Around the fossil tree, a viewing platform will be constructed so that people can get close to this historic artefact while display panels will explain its history and relevance to the area.

A new iron fence will surround the tree to mark it as a focal point, while an unlocked metal gate will allow people access to the viewing platform.

When completed, a piece of Jurassic Earth will once more be more visible to modern humans.


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