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Woodhead and Windyhills woodlands contains a Site of Special Scientfiic Interest (SSSI). The SSSI is composed of two segments, at Woodhead and Windy Hills’, located on a ridge between 130-115m altitude trending generally from southwest to northeast. Windy Hills is the ‘type locality’ for a series of quartzite gravels that, together with a series of flint gravels (‘type locality’ at the Moss of Cruden), form a unique set of deposits often known as the ‘Pliocene’ gravels of Buchan. The age and origin of these deposits have long been a source of scientific study and debate. Current interpretations suggest that the Windy Hills gravels are in situ river deposits which accumulated during the Neogene (between 23 and 2.6 million years ago). The sediments have been subsequently modified by a range of processes reflecting later changes in environmental conditions, including chemical weathering, glaciation and periglacial processes. The imprint of periglacial processes, in particular, is strikingly displayed in several classic features associated with cold environments. The topographic form of the sediments was also been altered during the Ice Age of the last 2.6 million years, with parts of the deposit being removed and dissected by glacial erosion and meltwater rivers. The site clearly demonstrates the selective preservation of pre-glacial sediments and therefore reflects the minimal erosion experienced by north-east Scotland during the Ice Age glaciations, over the last 2.6 million years. Together with the flint gravels at Moss of Cruden, Windy Hills is of exceptional importance in providing a uniquely long record of some of the geomorphological processes and environmental conditions which have shaped the Scottish landscape over the last 20 million years or so. (Source: Nature Scotland

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