The Shropshire Hills are an area both outstanding beauty and incredible history. A paradise for Geologists both professional and amateur, this wonderful landscape provides daily inspiration for those of us lucky enough to live or visit her, and will soon be immortalised in the Channel 4 series WALKING THROUGH TIME. Presenter and palaeobiologist, Tori Herridge, will devote an entire episode to the Shropshire Hills, with a special focus on the very last mammoths to graze on the grasslands of this wonderful county. This can be found on here catchup. It is fitting, therefore, that this coincides with MAMMOTH CELEBRATION WEEKEND at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre on the 8th and 9th October:
Meet our Mammoth at Secret Hills Exhibition
Find out about the chilling Ice Age and meet our mammoth – a full size replica of the skeleton found at Condover, near Shrewsbury. You’ll get a flavour of life in the Iron Age and discover the story of some of Shropshire’s many medieval castles:
So, what is so special about the geology of the Shropshire Hills?
The relatively little impact of plate tectonics in the area makes the study of this science here ideal. The nineteenth century early pioneers of Geology studied and mapped the rocks around these hills. They named the different strata with local names that then became used as world-wide ‘benchmarks’ of examples of rocks of a certain age. The Silurian Period for example is named after the ancient Welsh Border tribe: The Silures and two of the three divisions of this period are The Wenlock Series and Ludlow Series. The best known of these being Wenlock Limestone that forms the prominent scarp-feature of Wenlock Edge.
Further west are the Church Stretton Hills and Valley which together form a beautiful landscape under which are fascinating old rock formations. The Hills to the East of the Church Stretton Valley are made of lavas from Volcanoes that erupted over 560 million years ago probably when this part of the earth was positioned near the South Pole. The Valley itself was originally a major active fault – similar to today’s San Andreas Fault in California and can be traced from Newport in North Shropshire to South Wales.
Fascinating indeed and we haven’t even touched on the stark outcrops of the Stiperstones or the Shelve anticline……
If you are interested in finding out more about the landscape of the Shropshire Hills, then there are many ways for you to do so. The National Trust provide guides and walks along the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge, detailing the fascinating geological history of these two very different but equally beautiful landscapes. Walking the landscape of the Shropshire Hills is perhaps the best way to fully appreciate all that this incredible area has to offer. The Geopark Way is a long distance walking trail that forms part of the Teme Valley Trail. The walk starts in the market town of Bridgnorth and details can be found at http://www.earthheritagetrust.org/pub/category/the-geopark-way/the-walking-trail/.
In Much Wenlock the museum has a great exhibition of rocks, which provide another fascinating insight into the geology of the area. Ludlow Museum Resource Centre also has a Geology Collection available by booking for the keen enthusiast, and there is a store tour on 8th October to view the actual mammoth bones – booking essential.
Celebrating the Shropshire Hills
The history and geology of our part of the world should be celebrated and there is so much for people of all ages to see and do here. Whether you choose to walk, visit museums or celebrate the Mammoth Weekend at the Discovery Centre, we would love to hear about your experiences.
Some of the mammoth bones are on show at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, while the vast majority of the main mammoth bones are in special store at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre.
There area special pre-booked tours of the stores on 8th October at 11am to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their discovery If anyone wants to secure a place in advance email Ludlow.Museum@shropshire.gov.uk listing name and the number in the party. Use the subject ‘Store Tour’.
David Palliser & Louise Welsby