The geomorphology of Orford Ness

Shingle ridges with the foreland point behind © Simon Bradford

Shingle ridges with the foreland point behind

Orford Ness is one of only three major shingle landforms in Britain, and ranks among the most important shingle features in Europe. It is the only such landform that combines a shingle spit with a foreland.

This 'nose' or ness gives rise to the name for the whole area. The spit is made up of a complex sequence of shingle ridges and valleys deposited over centuries and recording many stages in the evolution of the landform. Despite recent major ground disturbance and damage it is of the highest educational value.

The ness and spit are sites where natural processes of erosion and sediment deposition can be observed at a range of timescales. The geomorphology records daily effects of waves as well as tide and seasonal storm events, but also provides a historical record of these processes from prehistoric times to the present day. This record is reflected in the changing ridge heights and their possible relation to sea level changes.

Orford Ness is one of the most dynamic landforms on the UK coastline and is subject to change through sediment erosion and deposition. The continuation of natural processes to allow change and evolution of the landscape is extremely important.