Starting between 135,000 & 130,000 years ago, & finishing about 110,000, the Ipswichian Interglacial is the second to latest interglacial period of the last ice age. (Please note, different sources give widely differing date ranges for the Ipswichian; some suggesting that it continued until 73,000 years ago).
So named in Britain because some of the first deposits were found in the 1950s in the Bobbits Lane area of southwest Ipswich, England (see photo, left), the period is also known as the Eemian, the Riss-Wurm in Europe & the Sangamonian Stage in America. It is thought that the period was on average 2- 3 degrees centigrade warmer than today.
At the start of the Ipswichian Interglacial, birch & pine forests predominated, with oak, maple, hazel & elm later becoming common. Later in the period, hornbeam became dominant, before the deciduous forests gave way to pine & birch as the climate once again became colder.
Animals that occurred during the Ipswichian include hippopotamus, woolly mammoth, straight-tusked elephant, Merck's rhinoceros, narrow-nosed rhinoceros, brown bear, steppe bison, lion, spotted hyaena & auroch, together with some species still with us today such as horse, red deer & fallow deer.
Various tools have been found from the Middle Palaeolithic period or Old Stone Age, the later part of which coincides with the Ipswichian Interglacial. These include axes, knives & scraping tools.
Thought to be 210,000 years old, & therefore predating the Ipswichian Interglacial Period, are the remains of at least two woolly mammoths discovered when Stoke High School in Maidenhall Approach was being built in 1975. Some of the bones are on display in Ipswich Museum, together with a life size replica mammoth (see below). (photos - Colchester & Ipswich Museum Service)
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