The Neogene System of Britain and its surrounding continental shelf have received relatively little attention. This is due, in part, to their limited geographical distribution, relatively complex stratigraphy and unim-portance in terms of offshore hydrocarbons (Fig. 1). However, during the last decade, interest has grown as palaeontologists and climatologists work towards documenting and reconstructing the warmer climate of the Middle Pliocene (Dowsett et al. 1992; Wood et al. 1993; Haywood et al. 2000, 2002), thus providing new insight into the mechanisms and effects of global warming (Dowsett et al. 1999; Haywood & Valdes 2004).
Onshore Miocene deposits are poorly represented, with the exception of the Lenham Beds, Kent, and the Trimley Sands, SE Suffolk. Wilkinson (1974, 1980) examined samples from the former site, but recovered no ostracods. Although Pliocene deposits are more common than Miocene in the British Isles, they are also of limited extent. Pliocene ostracods have only been described from two regions on the British mainland – the diminutive St Erth Beds, Cornwall, and the more extensive crags of eastern England. ‘Crag’ was an East Anglian dialect term for any sand rich in shells (Moorlock et al. 2000). Taylor (1824) first applied this term in a strictly geological sense, although Funnell (1961) extended its use to all formations containing such deposits.