Herefordshire’s Rocks and Scenery A Geology of the County ISBN 978 1 9010839 16 4
Friday 21st April, the above book was launched at a short, friendly ceremony at the Shire Hall, Hereford. The purpose of the book is to explain in readable, accessible text the varied geology of the county of Herefordshire and to remind that the county was at the forefront in the mid 1800s when geology was a young science. In my opinion it fully achieves its brief with wonderful perspective drawings, maps, photographs and text uncluttered by Greek or Latin–definitely a book for anyone who wishes to understand the landscape and for whom Herefordshire is a very special county. The several authors are to be warmly congratulated for completing an epic work commenced ten years ago. Hilary purchased several for our library and we heartily recommend that at £15, this is a book that should sit on the bookshelf of anyone interested in local natural history.
At top table Tim Logaston, publisher, Laurence Banks of Hergest Croft, Dr John Payne, editor and Dr Paul Olver, President Woolhope Geology
The team met on 9th February–Mike, Hilary, Kay, John, Alan, Ian and self–to tackle over and undergrowth at Lower Farm quarry and do a litter pick at the Canyon. Weren’t out too long and my photos don’t do justice to the dramatic improvement at Lower House. See too, the bags of litter we collected at the Canyon. Good to have a coffee after with those who had the time. Thanks so much really worthwhile. Next month tackle Penny Hill.
Lower House (6)
Lower House (5)
Lower House (4)
Lower House (3)
Lower House (2)
Lower House (1)
Later on I met with Christine Rudall, Head of Geography at Chantry School to see if it would be worthwhile resurrecting courses and other activities for young people. Julie Harrald and Mike Brooks have been very busy working on the Deep Time Project and Chantry children have been helping with this, testing Mike’s apps. Christine asked for an update on the project and I was able to pass this on from Julie after our meeting. She also asked to be on our email database so she can stay abreast of what the Society is up to. I told her that working with young people is high on our list of objectives but that we need the right person in post to move this forward. In geology things move slowly but I am ever hopeful that each new contact can inch us forward.
GEOLAB day at Martley Memorial Hall 4th Feb. 26 beginners enjoyed a morning in the classroom, led by Kate Riddington and Jack Richardson, aided by some really simple, clever activities to understand how our earth works. In the afternoon, a bracing walk in wonderful sun to see a few of the area’s unique assemblage of rocks. Thanks to the GA (Geologists Association) for setting up this programme and to all who attended. Feedback has been excellent.
Hello everyone, this year the message has a particular significance as you probably know. Three hours ago I closed the doors of the museum to the public for the last time, and I’m feeling a bit emotional as I’m sure that you will appreciate.
The End of A Chapter
As things stand, this will be my 16th and final annual Christmas Message of thanks to you all from Dudley Museum and Art Gallery here in St James Road, Dudley. This place has been serving the public and the town since 1883. Since then, many individuals have been involved and steered it’s development to this moment in time, and it feels very strange to be the last one in that chain of history. Together I guess we have slowly built, nurtured and protected the heritage collections and ushered in new interpretive ideas and themes along all those years. Looking back at all those achievements over decades, I consider myself to be very blessed to have had the opportunity to become one of those privileged few and to be part of the story of this wonderful place and its historic collections. Whatever the future brings I know they will continue to inspire down the ages and far beyond my personal link in this particular Black Country chain.
On a personal historical note, this building and its activities have been part of my life since I was a young child. They went on to become a central part of my life following graduation in 1984. The shy young Earth scientist that I was back then has grown a lot in confidence and ability in the passing years thanks largely to the tolerance and guidance of a lot of great people. I have witnessed amazing work here of many passionate and dedicated people who have inspired and taught me so much over the years. They worked hard and selflessly to protect the geological heritage, making many sacrifices to safeguard the geological collections and get them back into the public realm in the most dynamic and spectacular ways. In these last 31 years as part of this building and its life, I have seen that collective effort reach out to more than a million people and positively impact many lives (mine included). I have seen what we do really help some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged amongst us. I think I understand the real power and value of inspiration now and hopefully we can take that forward in the new venue. This building though and its place in the heart of the town’s community has been a big part of that character and service to-date. So this for me is one of those particularly poignant moments, and I’m very aware that It heralds the start of a whole new chapter in our story – wherever it may lead.
Caught in the winds of Change
It really is a most confusing and scary time if you are working in public service. In our case, with all the impacts and positive stories we generate, I don’t believe that anyone at all wanted this museum to close and its service to be compromised. I guess that the severity of the situation facing local authority funding simply finds us not ‘up there’ as a political priority in the overall ranking of public service priorities and as a cultural entity we have no legal protection as many other service area’s do. So it would appear that in this iteration of what we are the powers that be have decided that our time has come. It’s time for us now to evolve to survive in a rapidly changing world. Fortunately geology is full of evolutionary successes so I hope that we will go on to be one of them.
I Don’t mean to make light of things, going through this process has been very difficult for everyone here. My heart particularly goes out to so many of you who’ve had to go through this yourselves in recent times or may also be facing this in the future. Everyone here has invested a huge amount of themselves into the service and it’s been very hard to be part of this particular change.
It has however given us the chance to take stock. It’s given the public and colleagues the chance to tell us about lives that we’ve touched and incredible number of friends that we have made across the years and across the world. Hearing about what we have meant to people (often across several generations of a family) and the depth of feelings that they have for us is really moving. So it’s been very special to receive those kind words particularly in our culture where it’s something that seems so often go unspoken in British society. (I’ve heard colleagues say that you never hear from people when you are doing something right but you hear straight away when you got just one little thing wrong!) Well that’s not been the case for us this year so thank you for all the kind thoughts, good wishes and prayers that you have been generous enough to share with us – it means more than you know and particularly to team members who will be leaving us.
Thank you so much
Again speaking personally, I have many emotions running through me at this moment, but I believe that the overwhelming one is gratitude. This is focussed on all of you who have believed in us, helped us in any way, given us opportunities to grow and be more than a little town museum might otherwise expect to be. Also a huge thank you to all who have shared in any part of this truly incredible experience with us along the way. It is the end of a very special era in our little world. I have a huge array of wonderful memories that I will always treasure and I know that in our time we made a real difference and made things so much richer and better through the things we did. Thank you so much.
So I think it’s time to celebrate all that we have been together as we move into a new chapter for the museum. Despite the sadness that comes with loss and change, I will share, in images in the attached document, the fruits of another incredible year working with such an amazing bunch of people. As ever, it is just a snapshot of the projects for which I have information to hand. Please forgive me if your particular associations with us are not included, ommision was not intended. This year I’ve compressed the images into a PDF year so hopefully despite its 5 pages, it will be a manageable size and get to you with no problems. I hope that you enjoy looking through these memories as much as I did assembling them. If you feel that others would like to see this message and the memories and thank s it contains please feel free to forward onwards and share this message with those you think would welcome it.
Despite the closure of this venue I will still be here and some aspects of our service will move forward. The future lies within the promise of continuing to work with partners on becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark for the whole of the Black Country and working on some amazing projects together. Here in Dudley it will involve relocating displays, the geopark headquarters and the research work to the new building of Dudley Archives adjacent to the Black Country Living Museum Entrance on Castle Hill. We have ideas and projects in place with all the other Black Country authorities and our surrounding partners so next year will be an amazing, challenging year of change and new direction and I hope that it will be a wonderful one for us all.
Some words of inspiration
I’ll finish this year with a couple of things that I’ve read in 2016 that have moved or inspired me (and seem fitting as we move ahead into the unknown of the year ahead). The first is a short poem from a young, Black Country creative writer called Elinor Cole who had a small exhibition with us this summer. She wrote a number of poems that I felt reached into the heart of the Black Country spirit of fortitude and sacrifice in my opinion. In her poem ‘The Colliers Wiife’ using some Black Country dialect, for me she captured the dilemma and angst that must have been a daily routine for many Black Country families during the height of the coalfield’s activity. It has a warmth and compassion about the real lives involved that I think is fab. I hope you like it.
Yoom reckless, I tell him, as I tend to
his wounds – the cuts, the clouts,
limbs battered and bruised.
It ay worth it, I tell him, as he claims
that he’s fine – that he’s at his
happiest when down in the mine.
He makes promises to leave, but I know
that he’ll stay – he loves it down
there, with the soil and the clay.
So I kiss him farewell, but when
I’m alone – I pray to God that
today, he’ll just make it back home.
It reminds me that my chosen subject of Earth Science is not a remote or dispassionate entity but its knowledge was hard-won and practical, in the lives of real people and for real people. I hope we can capture some of this soulful human touch in the displays and projects of the Geopark work next year.
The second is taken from the commemorative book produced for the queens 90th birthday. I believe her to be a lady of great dignity, perception and faith who wrote in her Christmas address to the nation in 2002 about her motivations and hopes within a longer term perspective on troubles of the day or the more distant future. She said;
‘I know how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way that I can live my life is to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God’
Both to me speak of abiding hope, courage and strength in facing the future fears and uncertainty. Their themes resonate with me, particularly at this moment when so much is changing and I take much inspiration from these words and we enter our new chapter.
So despite the changes and uncertainties and the global turmoil, Brexit and all the rest, it’s been a year with its fair share of great stuff too that provide a better focus and I’m sure next year will bring many more highlights , come what may.
Once again, sincere heartfelt thanks for your support in this and all those other wonderful years.
Very best wishes to you and all those you hold dear for a wonderful Christmastime and new year. Let’s hope it’s a kind one to all of us.
On behalf of the Dudley Museum Team for one last time
Bigger crowd this year enjoyed good food (I thought, hopefully you did too) and good company then listened to Haydon’s fascinating tale of micro fossilia, especially useful in the petrochem industry, his area of work. Foraminifera are the main focus with around 50000 species, 40000 or so extinct, offering age horizons in the minerals prospected for oil, in the same way that William Smith deduced the strata of England with the local fossils. Most forams are tiny to extremely small and incredibly difficult to decipher, much work with microscopes and consulting of voluminous indices being the order of the day. Here are a few pictures:
Your committee had a meeting, most unusual, first real get together for many, many months. It was a good session where we looked at what we are doing, where we think we do well and where we could do better. Here is a summary. You might have comments, in which case contact me on email@example.com. Don’t comment from the web site even if you know how because there is so much spam that all comments go to a bin somewhere.
Generally good (we felt) Evening Meetings–timing, timing, contents, speakers, rock of the month Library–assistance being sought as standby but library service excellent Social Events–this year the wine tasting evening a great success, continue with these Visitors to our area–our tours go down very well, good hosting and itineraries. Expand team of leaders, improve knowledge Publicity–web site good but needs continual adding to; poster placement needs additional help and place at University too, social media–not started Visitor Information–good choice of trails with guides and interpretation boards; keep Martley Rock dispenser full, staff in shop need familiarization we felt Adult education–running at one course per year; is this enough? Committee–keen team, needs more members co-opted Displays–generally good but needs gaps filling, there is a separate note about this Academic–Knighton mapping project very good, missed out on Breccia project, need to work on this
Generally need improvement Field trips–FT secretary missing from organogram; need a properly set up programme of field trips, can ease this by linking to other societies. Geo-ambles were enjoyed. Children’s Education–storytelling and courses–none planned but should be, ambassador needed Work parties–generally poorly attended, same old people though there are enough on the list–schedule once a month might be better
TVGS is busy with the following:
Building Stones Project
Education for Adults
Education for Juniors
Host Visiting Groups
I apologise for the late inclusion of this article by Dr Arthur Tingley that he entitled ‘One More Map’, the story of his determination to enter the profession of geological mapping. After a successful career with i.a BGS he reached his apogee by roping in a team from TVGS to map one of the missing tiles–the Knighton sheet. Reports on this are included in the Knighton section HERE. Here is the article that first appeared in the magazine of the Geologists Association:
In 1966 the Geological Museum at South Kensington recruited around 15 school leavers as a cohort of cartographic draughtsmen, we were trained in the art of making fair copy maps for publication as the 1:50 000 series of geological maps. The intention then was to complete the field mapping and publication of all the maps which are now shown on the back of each of the published BGS map sheets.
Immersed in the Geological Museum, I soon wanted to do the surveying as well, but this was an unrealistic desire in the Civil Service of the 60’s for somebody without a Geology Degree. So I joined the Geologist’s Association, Geological Society and built a network along with part time study, and so eventually became trained by an alternative route, thus achieving my objective.
MSC AND PHD
The advent of the Open University opened up an additional line of attack, which allowed me to move on; thereafter becoming an Engineering Geologist by taking my MSc and PhD at Surrey University. Thus I spent the rest of my career wallowing in Engineering and Environmental Geology. I ostensibly finished my career with the Environment Agency in 2006, whence I hung up my geological hammer, gave away my geological books and samples and moved to Herefordshire.
THE KNIGHTON PROJECT AND TVGS
But then the surveyor’s eye, which never ever stops, began to work upon my surroundings. I got hold of a copy of the Ludlow sheet 181, only to find that it is a provisional map, and thus only partially mapped. I was intrigued! On volunteering for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust [HWEHT], I was assigned to the Ludlow Anticline and undertook RIGS assessments. It was at this time my attention was drawn towards map sheet 180, Knighton, an unpublished, nay un-surveyed, 1:50 000 sheet, one of only three that fell off the national survey program.
So, I undertook a feasibility study, and discovered that a wealth of work existed, including key work by Charles Holland and there was a Geologists Association Trip in 1958 [Allender 1960] and more recently work by Nigel Woodcock and colleagues at Cambridge, arising partly from a string of PhD’s in the 1980’s. Furthermore, BGS had mapped and published Rhayader 179, Builth Wells 196 and Montgomery 165 sheets with more modern nomenclature in the 1990’s. I sent the study to each of the  Geological Societies in the area, the Ludlow Resource Centre and HWEHT and BGS of course, and requested expressions of interest, assistance or general corrections to my assumptions, with a fairly open view about if we might proceed.
FUNDING AND CONTACTS
At this stage I still considered that I did not have sufficient contacts to know who’s who in the field; and I am so grateful to Professor Mike Rosenbaum for his time and advice at that point. Thereafter my key barrier to progress became a question of manpower, field maps at 1:10000 scale and some pump priming funding. Enter the Geologist’s Association, who provided an award, and advice regarding the provision of field slips. At which point I knew that we had a practical project, subject to the manpower.
The Teme Valley Geological Society is a fairly new, enthusiastic and knowledgeable group, based in Martley Worcestershire, and centred on a remarkable rock outcrop associated with the Malvern Fault [http://www.geo-village.eu/]. Eight members of that group have joined with me to form a survey team, and following field survey training sessions, we are now engaged in our first survey season.
There are of course some remaining barriers to progress, not least that much Geological information and data is locked up in archives and for the most part is quite viscous in its nature! It has proved very difficult for instance to get assurances about the whereabouts of some PhD’s and other archival material, without actually travelling to London, Cambridge, Cardiff, Keyworth etc to do the search in person. With the virtual demise of the Ludlow Resource Centre and the temporary closure of the Lapworth Museum a variety of sources of information are difficult to come by. It also appears that most of the surveyors who worked on the surrounding geological maps are for the most part now the dearly departed, and their material dispersed or uncatalogued.
Our greatest weakness is in the palaeontological department, partly because many of the exposures mentioned in research papers are now non-existent or badly overgrown. The sparse Upper Silurian fauna does not often yield precise date interpretation, and indeed a few areas would benefit from some micropalaeontological investigation to help things along.
If you have knowledge of the area, maybe have done some mapping, collected fossils or have an interest in Silurian Palaeontology we would be very pleased to hear from you.
This is a transitional area which exhibits sediments on the Silurian ramp of the proximal seas of Avalonia, down into the distal basin deposits which are exhibited in the west of our area. Woodcock 1990 named this sequence the Powys Super-Group, Upper Llandovery to Pridoli. The area spans both the Pontesford Disturbance and the Church Stretton fault, and with varying sea level impulses from both eustatic and tectonic movements and the resulting dynamic interplay of environments, this has given rise to an interesting patchwork of facies.
The survey is being carried out at 1:10 000 scale, for eventual fair copy at 1:25 000, and thence to a BGS format 1:50 000 scale map, with explanatory booklet. There are 20 1:10 000 sheets each of which has been allocated to a lead surveyor. To date [July 2015] about 45% of the map area has been surveyed. So we are well on our way to producing the Map Sheet 180 by approximately 2017.
To date, I have had the benefit of a lot of kind support and encouragement from a large number of people and organisations, really too numerous to mention in this short article; the details will have to wait until we are finished. However special thanks must go to my survey team: Paul Bate, Mike Brookes, Sue Chester, Ingrid Darnley, Alan Hughes, John Moseley, Neil Raha and, Adrian Wyatt and associates John Nicklin, and Moira Jenkins and also the whole HWEHT team; and finally of course thanks to the Geological Society and Geologists Association without whom nothing would have been possible.
The TVGS Knighton Mapping Team
References: Allender R , Holland C H, Lawson JD , Walmsley V G, Mcd Whitaker
Summer Field Meeting At Ludlow 2-9 August 1958
Proc Geol Assoc Vol 71 (2) 1960
Woodcock N. H.1990,
Sequence stratigraphy of the Palaeozoic Welsh Basin
Journal of the Geological Society, London, Vol. 147, pp. 537-547,
23October 2016 Map
Eve Fraser (a convert to geology though she has serious archaeological roots) and self, parked just over Ham Bridge (SO737610) and walked along the drive to Ham Farm (SO739598) to prospect the stone buildings and a small quarry that Eve and her friends had spotted on a previous walk. En route an obvious eroded quarried area (SO741601) before reaching a variety of farm buildings, modern, ancient timber framed with brick infill and stone. On the west of the River Teme the bedrock is of Devonian age, the formation, St Maughans sandstone. The stone where it was used in the buildings was obviously a sandstone, weather worn, providing plenty of hiding places for insects and small birds. Just beyond the farmstead on a right of way that leads to Whitbourne and Woodmanton a delightful, small quarry set into the side of a steep bluff, maybe 6-8 m high (SO737598). Massive (i.e. big blocks, jolly good for building) in the lower structure, suddenly thinly bedded for the top two metres (similar to Scar Cottage, but there, it is Triassic, some 130 million years younger).
Always an event well worth attending, hosts of crafts, food, apples (of course), hobbies on display. Bit quieter this year many competing events and other unfortunate happenings seeming to coincide to undo all the hard work by the organisers. TVGS wuz there.
5th September: Last geo-amble of the season, back in the cars down to the Teme Valley, this time by kind permission of Sir Anthony Winnington, parking at his home. Brockhill Court, Shelsley Beauchamp. These ambles have attracted a smattering of history and archaeological buffs, most useful when looking at buildings and the stones used. Next to the court an old quarry, hidden under dense trees, entrance straight off the narrow Pard House Lane. We stepped into a dark world, cliffs on both sides, the middle, very hard rock having been removed for building and roadway constructions.
Ella from EHT kindly took the role of explaining about the site and the geological processes that had formed it.
The interest here is that in the Carboniferous, some 300 million years ago, possibly when after a period of mountain building and pressure, the plates relaxed allowing weaknesses in the crust to be exploited by molten magma. Forcing its way up, these ‘dykes’ acted as feeders to volcanic activity on the surface, but themselves cooled down a kilometer or so below. Cooling was therefore slow, of the order of 10 000 years, submerged as it was under a huge depth of other deposits subsequently eroded, leaving the remains of the dyke on the surface of ‘our’ world. The extreme heat affected the layers through which it travelled as it itself was affected. In the centre, the hottest and slowest to cool, Teschenite, a rock of altered basalt with easily visible crystals. Next comes the ‘chilled margin’, a black, very fine crystalline rock, basalt in all but name. Then we see a rock with rough yellow, horizontal tubes. This is the baked ‘country rock’, in this case Raglan Mudstone (from the end of the Silurian), and the tubes are gas escapes later filled with other materials. If you wish to read about the site, from an article written many years ago, it is HERE (thanks Ella). Here is a map again drawn years ago. We intend to explore the area further.
22nd August: by car into the Teme Valley to Southstone Rock, possibly England’s largest tufa deposit, a quarter of a mile up a steepish track, often muddy and slippery. In this dense, damp, primeval woodland it is hardly possible to even glimpse the gigantic deposit from the fork in the track, only 50m away.
Prepare to be amazed.
Cross the narrow wooden bridge that replaced an original brick arch, that itself was replaced by a slippy plank with no handrails. Recent work by Rights of Way has made the approach less intimidating. Venture under towering, rugged cliffs, note giant blocks that have cracked off the main massif, observe a clean break from 5 years ago when a block tumbled down the slope into the fern thronged cascade. Plenty to explore here, narrow passages between the blocks, caves and holes then around the corner the flat top of this huge formation. Sadly these days the top is covered in dense brambles and young trees, unlike a few years ago when remains of the old house could be seen alongside the rushing stream, the area almost lawn like. Work needed here. Even the easily audible gushing spring, in this high summer season, is inaccessible. We struggled to the edge where the stream tumbles in runnels down a moss covered fall, building tufa as it goes, petrifying the moss to form a lightweight stone. This stone is used in buildings in the area, perhaps the most beautiful being Shelsley Walsh church though we understand the stone for it came from quarries much closer.
Descending in the gloom of this grey evening, a rare pool of sunlight picked out the hills, opposite. See HERE a guide to Southstone Rock.
15th August: no cars only shanks’ pony, on yet another beautiful clear evening. By popular vote we set off over the Nubbins enjoying views to the Malverns as well as close ups of the Bromsgrove Sandstone quarry face with its cross bedding and gravelly interleaves. The latter, evidence of stormy events in a river flowing in a dry region with wind blown and river deposited sands. Exiting on to the top field, travelling on paths walked earlier in the series, the 360 degree view always a wonder. This takes in the Clent Hills in the North with their cap of Permian Breccia, the Lickeys and their Ordovician, the Jurassic Cotswolds and Bredon outlier to the East, in the South the Precambrian Malverns and then the Devonian Bromyard Plateau in the West. Finally, swinging to the North the Clee Hills capped with sills of Dolerite, heavily quarried, continuingly so, for roadstone and aggregates, as well as ironstone and sandstones. Nearer to hand are Martley’s Triassic Nubbins quarries, Permian Berrow, Silurian Rodge/Pudford Hills and the Severn plain. Truly a place to stop and spend a while.
We took a permissive path along the rim of the Teme valley (Kingswood Slide), on limestone now, steeply into a distinct water catchment basin to Kingswood Chasm and outcrops of the Silurian Coalbrookdale Formation. Noting local ground slumping we trekked to the river far below to check out Martley’s highest (dry !) waterfall (Kingswood Waterfall) a block of perhaps slipped Coalbrookdale.
Turning down river, South, through woodland along a section of the Geopark Way. After the audit was produced we discovered an outcrop of Raglan Sandstone and though not now accessible due to a fallen tree, we had placed by the track, samples of this micaceous, sometimes blocky, sometimes finely bedded into very flat, thin sheets, sandstone. Raglan Mudstone is generally just that, mud, soft, clay, marly but it does contain lenses of more solid materials as sandstones and here we have one. There are two examples in the audit book but difficult to reach and on private land (Horsham River Cliff) and in the River Teme at Ham Bridge, River Teme Reef.
A steep walk took us back to Kingswood Lane and the small site there, near where the East Malvern fault crosses so the lane jumps +-150 million years at this point, from Triassic to Silurian (Raglan Mudstone).
8th August: 1st August rained off, stair-rod stuff, stalwarts turned up but seriously guys, no way, and boy were we wise to postpone, 8th turned out to be a simply glorious evening, clear, warm, the countryside in its harvest best, marvellous.
After the hall meet, in convoy to the driveway of Rodge Hill Farm, parking by kind permission of the owner. Immediately the greyish soil colour indicating we were in limestone country, actually where we parked the cars, the softer Ludlow Shales between the hilly Much Wenlock and the ridge of Aymestry to the west. The so called Ludlow series is one of four divisions in the Silurian Period and itself has three parts–Lower and Upper Ludlow Shales and between them in age, Aymestry formation. Nearly all of the rocks in Martley parish, indeed in the wider area are sedimentary, meaning they were deposited in layers in the sea, in rivers and deserts. This is over many millions of years and to be expected in such a long time period the environment changed dramatically. Sea levels rose and fell, climate changed and the quality of the deposits varied from a greater contribution by sea dwelling life (corals, shellfish, stromatolites, stromatoporoids as examples) to silty wash ins from rivers and volcanic ash falls, sand banks in marine estuaries and so on. In the case of the Ludlow group these changes are reflected as hard rock in well defined layers, sometimes nodular, to the softer, muddier, more easily eroded shales found in the lower ground between the ridges. All though have greater or lesser proportions of calcium carbonate from the then living organisms that inhabited those seas. Running through are veins of whitish, volcanic ash, a soft clay like material (Bentonite) with a great many industrial uses.
Leaving the car park, we followed the newly laid out (a most generous gesture by the landowner) permissive way, to the side of the main track, climbing up to the low ridge of Aymestry separated from the much higher ridge to the West. We turned North up to a low but excellent viewpoint then down a long track passing by one of the Martley sites, Rodge Hill Farm Track North. It was a splendid place to be on such a summer evening, the geology and Angie’s knowledge of plant life (thanks Angie) adding to the enjoyment. Puffing up on to the main ridge of Rodge Hill we joined the Worcestershire and Geo-Park Ways and started South climbing through dense woodland, mostly not present 20 years ago, to the highest point and a welcome resting and view site. En-route we made out the edges of the nearly vertical Aymestry strata outcropping as the foundation of the footpath (this is Rodge Hill Summit site).
At the seat, we took in views to the Malverns, Skirrid, Hay Bluff, Clee Hill and at our feet with evening shadows creeping, the incomparable valley of the River Teme. We spotted Shelsley Beauchamp Church, Clifton Church up on the Devonian across the river, the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb, Homme Castle Motte and many old farmsteads now largely converted to fine homes for those with more money than the writer has.
Descending to a bridle path we stopped at an outcrop of Aymestry (Pudford Hill Bridleway Section) then through woodland and field to Lower Farm Quarry (aka Crinoid city) and its interpretation board. A short walk along the edge of a wheat field took us to the cars and back home.
25th July: 18 of us packed the minimum number of cars, parked at the Admiral Rodney (thanks–but Monday, no activity there) and walked under lowering skies down Horsham Lane then up on to the Berrow, along a ridge of Haffield (Permian) Breccia. There is a small pit, high on the ridge, in a spectacular position, only accessible by permission of the landowner. ‘Haffield’ because Haffield House near Ledbury is where the ‘type’ formation is situated, ‘breccia‘ because this formation is a jumble of angular and rounded rocks of all sizes set in a fine matrix that cements the whole together and this is what the word means. The deposit here is not so firmly concreted, presumably due to weathering; signs of faulting are present with distinct differences in the coarseness of adjacent deposits. Laid down in a dry land, in rugged but eroding highlands part of the giant continent of Pangaea, flash floods brought down debris of all sizes, rounding some of the boulders as they washed along, creating beds of rubble with finer and finer particles cementing it under the weight of subsequent events. At the time, this area was some degrees north of the equator; deposits of this Permian breccia (from a period 299-252 million years ago) are scattered across Worcestershire and Herefordshire, for example on the Clent and Woodbury Hills, on Berrow and on the top of Ankerdine and of course near Ledbury at Haffield House, among others. The deposit here is extensive–at the bottom of the hill near the lane is a much larger quarry, Permian Pit 2, heavily overgrown but previous investigations revealed that it too was Haffield Breccia.
We could see the rain coming and come it did, the more sensible equipped with raincoats and umbrellas, others (me) drenching in a considerable shower as we walked along roads then through dripping woods to our next ‘site’, Hay Wood petrifying drip. In the Teme Valley there are many streams that deposit tufa owing to the preponderance of limestone and a spring line created by impervious layers below. In Hay Wood there is a small water outflow from a muddy, root bound patch trickling down a gentle slope until it meets a large tree that creates a small waterfall, ideal for teasing out of the lime laden water a precipitate of calcium carbonate. This coats objects in the stream bed and creates small terraces, similar to those on a much larger scale in for example Turkey. Prof. Fairchild explained that a storm event would easily destroy these deposits only for the process to start all over again.
The rain ceasing, long grass still soaking we tramped uphill to Collins Green Quarry, a long scar into Much Wenlock limestone formation topped, uncomformably, by the very same Breccia seen previously. ‘Unconformably’ means that there is a geological period missing in the sequence, in this case the Silurian is topped by Permian, with Devonian and Carboniferous missing. The assumption is that it was there but was later eroded away before the Permian was laid down. Unknowingly, drivers on the B4197 pass within a few inches of a sheer drop into this quarry and in the past, before the new landowner erected a tall fence, all sorts of rubbish was hurled into the void from the ‘out of sight out of mind brigade’ parking in the lay-bye. Without maintenance the face is losing clarity. At the foot of the slope can be found boulders from the Permian, themselves usually made up of a conglomerate of pebbles from yet a previous generation of eroded mountains. Limestone rocks in the scree, many with fossils typical of the Wenlock, are often stained red, washed down from the iron rich Permian above. In the right conditions a vein of bentonite is also visible, common throughout the Much Wenlock.
We wended our way in a glorious sunlit evening back up to the road thence to our fleet of ‘taxis’ at the Admiral Rodney and back to Martley. Another 5 sites tonight, taking the total to 17, I make it–over half way there.
18th July: 20 of us took to the hills on a very warm and gloriously sunny evening. This time we went a little way north, driving to and parking at the Martley’s main quarry site (by kind permission). A little introduction to this impressive Silurian, Much Wenlock formation face with its clear layers and the turned over section to the west, how it was formed over many millions of years in a warm sub-tropical sea. Life was booming in the sea with many types of corals, trilobites, bivalves and other shellfish, some of which might look familiar on your local fishmonger’s slab. These reefs were then around 2000 miles south of the equator not always far from shore, in sea the depth of which varied considerably, influencing the quality of the deposit. From the top of the old filled in quarry, wonderful far ranging views to the Malverns (south), Bredon Hill and the Cotswolds (south east and east), the Severn plain, the Lickeys south of Birmingham, Clent Hills and finally our neighbours, the Abberley and Woodbury Hills. Western views were obscured by trees and by the somewhat higher hills known as Pudford and Rodge Hill from the Aymestry formation. Dropping down to the public footpath that runs around the north end of the quarry, we descended ‘Stairway to Heaven’, explored ‘the Canyon’, passed by ‘Callow Track South’ exiting as if through a doorway from forest to grassland to a magnificent viewpoint over a vale of the softer Lower Ludlow Shales, seemingly towered over by the aforementioned Aymestry ridge along which run the Worcestershire and GeoPark Ways. Group decision took us back along the forest edge to Peter Weddell-Halls land and the fine face to the rear of his old farmhouse. So those of you who came along can tick off Penny Hill Lane, Quarry Farm,Quarry Farm House, Penny Hill Quarry, Penny Hill East, Stairway to Heaven, The Canyon and Callow Track South taking the total in two weeks to 12.
11th July: On an increasingly lovely evening, 28 gathered to commence the quest of visiting everyone of Martley’s 31 geology sites and maybe a few more too. It was a pleasure to meet many new faces, keen on a gentle ramble of exploration with some geology thrown in. The walk up the Worcestershire Way, then high above the river and into the top fields above the Nubbins was simply glorious, memorable, Worcestershire and counties beyond glowing in the evening sun. Sites visited: Martley Rock, Kingswood Slide, The Nubbins, Scar Cottage. Next week we’ll probably check out our limestone countryside and features.
Across the Top Field on a Sunny Evening (Prof. Fairchild)
Nubbins–Bromsgrove Sandstone, Triassic Period (Prof. Fairchild)