The Friends of Ludlow Museum              Castle from Whitcliffe

             Resources: Collections: Geology (fossils, minerals, rocks)

The major part of the collections is housed within the Shropshire Museums Resource Centre in Ludlow, co-located with the public library.

The collections are an important resource, locally, nationally and, in the case of the fossils, internationally. They are regularly used by schools, universities and individual researchers.

The Geology collection is housed in the Hanson Geological Store and comprises some 41,500 specimens of fossils, minerals and rocks. Over 30,000 specimens are fossils, the main strength of which is the comprehensive range of material from the Palaeozoic of South Shropshire and the Welsh Marches.

Hanson Geology RoomHanson Geological Store

Of regional and national significance are the remarkably complete remains of the Shropshire Mammoths, discovered at Condover in 1986, as well as Silurian cephalopods, Silurian and Devonian fish, and Rhyncosaur material and Cheirotherium prints from North Shropshire.

Juvenile mammoth jaw found at CondoverJuvenile mammoth jaw found at Condover

Cheirotherium footprint from North ShropshireCheirotherium footprint from North Shropshire

To further support study at the Resource Centre, a large body of academic journals and publications have been amassed which are available for consultation by researchers, staff and visitors alike. In the case of geology these include volumes of major journals such as the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, Palaeontology, and Palaeontological Memoirs. Many of these journal runs begin in the 19th century and continue through to the late 20th century. There are also separate academic papers which cover aspects of geology including palaeontology and stratigraphy. These have been collected because of their relevance to Shropshire’s geology and types of object in the collection itself, or because they cite or figure collection specimens.

Some of the publications are works of art in their own right. The Friends of Ludlow Museum have arranged for the following image to be printed as a postcard.
Shropshire Hills Section. Copyright Shropshire Museums Service 2018.

This original ink and water-colour drawing is in the County Museums Service geology collection at Ludlow (FA.00817). It is thought to have been drawn by Charles Fortey, member of the Ludlow Natural History Society from 1876 and honorary Curator from 1888 until 1907, forerunner of Ludlow Museum.

This meticulously constructed geological profile through the Shropshire Hills illustrates the rock layers of the Welsh Marches, from the most ancient (at the base) to the most recent (at the top), as they were understood in mid-Victorian times. A contemporary account was published in 1887 by Horace Woodward in his book The Geology of England and Wales.

The prominent feature, coloured red, represents igneous intrusions known to penetrate the older sedimentary rocks of the Stretton Hills of South Shropshire. Noteworthy is the omission of the igneous intrusion known locally as Dhustone which is now known to penetrate up to the top of the Carboniferous Coal Measures in the Clee Hills, five miles east of Ludlow, and the even younger dolerite dyke of Eocene age that cuts through North Shropshire.

The first printing of the postcard states that this is the Dhustone Section and represents a section through Titterstone Clee Hill. However, it is now thought to be a more general geological profile through the Shropshire Hills, illustrating the rock layers of the Welsh Marches as they were understood in mid-Victorian times.

Of historical note is the absence of the Ordovician Period, defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to separate the Silurian and Cambrian systems.

Production of the postcard was sponsored by the late J.G.C.M. Fuller and the History of Geology Group of the Geological Society, London. Reprinting has been sponsored by the Friends of Ludlow Museum. Photography by Gareth Thomas, F.R.P.S.. Copyright is with Shropshire Museums Service 2018.

In order to promote further use of the collections for research we have over the past five years begun a programme of investigation into the collections and the collectors who gave them. This has been conducted by staff and volunteers with the aim of making this information accessible via the internet, thereby alerting potential researchers to some of the content of our collections. We have also begun to provide access online to basic information harvested from our collections management database and low resolution images of the objects themselves. Click here to view this resource; view the records by entering a relevant keyword (e.g. trilobite).

Descriptions of Type Fossils can be viewed here on GB3D.

More general descriptions of fossils, rocks and minerals are being compiled by the Natural History Museum in London, for which click here and select 'View' to reveal a list of specimens and click on each to reveal their descriptions.

For rocks it is worth visiting the Rock Library by clicking here.

An introductory site to Shropshire's fossils and rocks can be accessed here.

Access itself is arranged by appointment with the curator, either in person or by phone, letter or email. Shropshire Museums provides potential researchers with a factsheet explaining the process and requirements for study.

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