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The Tredington Ichthyosaur Church Fossil

Not many churches can claim to have a dragon entombed in the stones of their porch. In fact, there is only one – even if it more likely to be the bones of a dinosaur.

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The Tredington Ichthyosaur
Reconstruction of what the fossil bones may have originally looked like before being worn away. (C) Imperidox

The Tredington Ichthyosaur Church Fossil

In the quaint village of Tredington, nestled amidst the serene English countryside, lies a peculiar secret within the walls of the Church of St. John the Baptist. While many historic churches boast intricate stained-glass windows or ancient relics, the Church of St. John the Baptist boasts something truly extraordinary—a possible dinosaur known as the Tredington Ichthyosaur or Tredington Wyrm (Dragon).

For many decades, there has been significant debate about some strange fragments and outlines embedded into the stone of the porch leading into the Church of St. John the Baptist in the little village of Tredington, south of Tewkesbury. Many people believe these are the remains of a small marine ichthyosaurus from the Triassic or Cretaceous period.

Tredington Church

The Church of St. John the Baptist, a testament to Tredington’s vibrant past, stands proudly. Its architectural dating dates back to the late 11th or early 12th centuries. The unique wooden ‘Frame and cladding’ bell tower, a rare sight, adds to its allure, making it a beautiful and unusual building that locals can rightfully take pride in.

In 1913, the late Canon Bazeley recorded ” bones of an Ichthyosaurus or other saurian ” in a slab of Lias Limestone flooring the porch of Tredington Church, south of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. Since then, the same specimen has been described twice as an Ichthyosaurus 9 feet long. It was later similarly described yet again, in Country Life, and the account was accompanied by a photograph of a heel-ball rubbing of the supposed saurian. People of the time clearly believed they had found a marine dinosaur.

Tredington Fossil Comparison

Unconvinced by the photograph, W.D. Lang / Stanley Smith of the University of Bristol visited the church around October of 1944 during WWII and decided that the previous visitors had made a grave error. He wrote in his letter …

“Since the illustration clearly was of no fossil reptile, one of us took the opportunity of visiting Tredington and examining the specimen. The portion figured as a 9 ft. saurian is merely a network of joints and other cracks ; but, within this area, as well as outside it, are a few scattered saurian bones, doubtless those seen and recorded by Canon Bazeley. But Bazeley’s report continues : ” how they (the bones) came to be there I know not.”

It is interesting to note that he confirms the existence of dinosaur bones and admits he too has no idea how they got there.

Tredington Fossil Comparison

A visit to Tredington was needed. According to a local man, the village has always had a legend that many hundreds of years ago, a dragon or demon was prowling around the church and sniffing the graveyard for unclaimed souls. Still, when its nose accidentally touched the holy door of the church, it was turned to rock and became a porch stone so that the faithful could step on it and be reminded that no evil being can enter a true Christian church. More likely, the fossil was probably discovered in a block of construction stone brought to Tredington from the quarry at Boddington. However, to add credence to the legend, the Norman South doorway has a decorative design of a carved dragon or reptile above shafts of spirals and zigzags. Unfortunately, this is rather worn and can be hard to make out.

The unusual formation in the stonework has sparked considerable debate, with some questioning whether it is a fossil or a mere optical illusion. Yet, it undeniably bears a striking resemblance to the correct formation, even down to the vertebrae of the tail. This, coupled with the region’s reputation for fossil-rich stone, underscores the need for further investigation and exploration.