The Friends of Ludlow Museum              Castle from Whitcliffe

             Background information on the fossils display

The geological specimens cabinet

The geological specimens are largely fossils, the preserved fragments of living organisms entombed within the rock.

The people who have donated specimens

The provenance of the specimens is generally recorded and the associated labels can sometimes reveal much of interest concerning the individuals who collected or donated the material. The following are some of the donors:


John Norton (1924-2002)

Former curator of Ludlow Museum. An enthusiastic naturalist and curator interested in everything within the natural world. In 1983 he was awarded the MBE for ‘services to museums’. He is remembered as a true gentleman and a fine curator. When he took over the museum in 1959 the collections had been decimated following closure of the museum in the late 1940s. John set about retrieving many of the lost specimens and building up a huge collection of local material which would become a classic reference collection for the type area of the Ludlow Series. Geologists came from all over Britain and the world to study this material.

John had the best collection of shirt boxes in Britain in which were stored, perfectly safely and beautifully labelled in his own handwriting, all the museum’s fossils.

Click here to download a pdf of an appreciation of John Norton published by the Geological Curators Group.


Brian J Wood

Warden of Ludlow Youth Hostel during the 1960s and 70s. An enthusiastic fossil collector and pioneered the development of themed YHA holidays for youngsters, in partnership with John Norton, including a week on Ludlow geology.


Peter Tarrant

Artist and highly respected amateur palaeontologist specialising in early fish-like vertebrates. Lives in Much Wenlock.


Maggie Rowlands

Amateur palaeontologist specialising in early fish and former assistant curator at Ludlow Museum. Lives in Oswestry.


Martin Davies

Ludlow educated, one-time Geological and Biological field recorder for Ludlow Museum and now Countryside Property Manager at the National Trust.


Herbert Henry Shephard (1893-1986)

Was the first headmaster of East Sheen Grammar School (Surrey), in 1927.

His collection of Natural History and Geological artefacts was donated to Ludlow Museum after his death in 1986, having been largely built up during his retirement, living in Bucknell some 6 miles from his wife’s family home in Knighton.

The major part of the Shephard mollusc collection consists of some 600 land and freshwater mollusca covering 135 species collected by Shephard over the period 1950 to 1954 (just pre and post his retirement). Nearly all have date and location recorded and it is this information which makes the collection valuable. The remainder of the natural history collection includes marine mollusca, mostly collected off the Welsh coast, grasses, ferns, butterflies and moths.

His geological collection comprised fossils from the immediate area of Bucknell, one fine specimen of which was requested by the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge, a Didrepanon (a Phacopid trilobite).


William Baker (1808-1881)

Educated at Ludlow Grammar School, William Baker went on to have a distinguished career in the Bengal Engineers, rising to the rank of General. He first became acquainted with the fossils from the Siwalik Hills in India after he received a fossil of an elephants tooth from the Raja of Nahan in November 1834. Together with his friend and mentor, John Colvin, he went on to build a scientifically important collection of Cenozoic fossils from the Siwaliks, donating them to the Ludlow Museum through the Ludlow Natural History Society. His experiences have recently been described in a booklet about his friend and colleague, John Colvin, by Barney Rolfe-Smith (2013).


John Colvin (1794-1871)

John Colvin developed a career in the Bengal Engineers, primarily construction of irrigation canals across northern India. He encouraged the young William Baker as a mentor following Baker’s arrival in Delhi in 1826. They became good friends and on 27th February 1838 John married William’s sister Josephine in Ludlow, Shropshire. In retirement Colvin lived first in Elton Hall a few miles west of Ludlow and then moved to Leintwardine House where he lived for the rest of his life. He did much to support the Ludlow Natural History Society, raising funds, improving its administration, and enhancing the collections. The Baker & Colvin collection of Cenozoic fossils from the Siwaliks were donated to Ludlow Museum. Reference may be made to the booklet by Barney Rolfe-Smith published in 2013 by Stonebrook Publishing.


General comment on Ludlow’s collections

Much material collected since the creation of the museum by the Ludlow Natural History Society in 1833 was “lost” when the council closed the facility after the Second World War, the Ludlow Natural History Society having been wound up in 1941. The more important specimens were rescued by Sam Morris, the British Museum’s arthropod curator, and transferred to the BM(NH) (now the Natural History Museum) in London. Fortunately the original Ludlow labels still survive and current work is hoping to establish what was transferred and digitally integrate it with the current collections so that effective research can resume.

The Silurian fossils in the cabinet

The specimens on display are largely fossils, the preserved fragments of living organisms entombed within the rock.

They are arranged in the display cabinet so that the oldest are on the left and get younger from left to right, in roughly two million year steps (the ages of the different formations are currently thought to be a little older and longer than given on the display boards). This was a period of Earth history which saw life emerge from the sea and begin to colonise the land.

If you wish to see further information on any of the fossils, these are listed below. The unique identifier for each specimen is known as the accession number (e.g. G.11999).

Use Google to search on the fossil name (hint: highlight the name and select 'copy' or use [Ctrl+c]; then paste into Google with 'paste' or use [Ctrl+v]).

Alternatively use the Shropshire Museums Service AdLib database and enter the accession number in the search box here (for instance G.11999) - some of these have been digitally recorded and images are available.

The oldest rock unit, about 432 (rather than 426) million years old, is given as the Wenlock Shales but this should be the Coalbrookdale Formation to be consistent with the other stratigraphic names given here, and is within the Sheinwoodian Stage.

Specimen 1: Graptolite Monograptus priodon donated by Mr Cocking G.15642

Specimen 2: Graptolite Monograptus priodon (Bronn, 1835) donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.11999. Should be Monograptus priodon (Bronn, 1835) with a lower case 'p', and the '(Bronn, 1835)' has been omitted.

Specimen 3: Trilobite Dalmanites caudatus donated by Mr Thomas G.11639

Specimen 4: Trilobite Tapinocalymene nodulosa donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.04881

Specimen 5: Orthocone cephalopod Dawsonoceras donated by Peter Tarrant and R Hoyle G.10074

Specimen 6: Trilobite (genus unlabelled) donated by Harry Baker G.06244. This looks like Tapinocalymene nodulosa (Shirley, 1933).


Much Wenlock Limestone, about 428 (rather than 425) million years old, should be written as the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation), and is within the Homerian Stage.

Specimen 7: Tabulate Coral Favosites sp. G.13729. This has been misspelt: it should be Favosites, not Flavosites.

Specimen 8: Rugose Coral Acervularia ananas G.06285

Specimen 9: Rugose Coral Kodonophyllum truncatum G.12004

Specimen 10: Gastropod Poleumita discors donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.11983. Gastropod has been misspelt and should have just one 'd'.

Specimen 11: Tabulate Chain Coral Halysites catenularius donated by John Norton G.12035

Specimen 12: Rugose Coral Ketophyllum subturbinatum G.13730

Specimen 13: Gastropod Poleumita discors G.11986

Specimen 14: Crinoid Crotalocrinites rugosus donated by R Smith G.07548.



Elton Formation, about 427 (rather than 423) million years old, and is within the Gorstian Stage.

Specimen 15: Swimming appendage of a eurypterid donated by T Jones G.06362. Not labelled but looks like Pterygotus sp.. A Eurypterid is a lobster-like creature, a voracious predator (see John Norton’s graphic reconstruction of the Silurian Sea). There are also lots of graptolites on this specimen.

Specimen 16: Graptolites Pristiograptus tumescens donated by Martin Davies G.09092. This is the same species as first identified by Ethel Wood (1900), a pioneering female academic who undertook a great deal of research into this kind of fossil within Mortimer Forest. Later, as Ethel Shakespear, she devoted herself to helping disabled servicemen during the Great War and successfully lobbied for the establishment of War Pensions, for which she was appointed a Dame in 1920.

Specimen 17: Cephalopod Imbricatoceras subundulatum donated by M Donnelly G.10079

Specimen 18: Bivalve Cardiola interrupta donated by R Philips G.06908

Specimen 19: Trilobite Proetus astringens donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.07858. This is an exceptionally well preserved specimen of this tiny trilobite.

Specimen 20: Trilobite Dalmanites myops donated by John Norton and D Thacker G.03800.


Bringewood Formation, about 426 (rather than 421) million years old, and is within the Gorstian Stage.

Specimen 21: Brachiopod Kirkidium knightii G.04690. Previously known as Pentamerus knightii and Conchidium knightii, this is the zone fossil for the Upper Bringewood Beds.

Specimen 22: Brachiopod Meristina obtusa G.00158. Should be Meristina obtusa with a lower case 'o'.

Specimen 23: Brachiopod Meristina obtusa G.00157. Should be Meristina obtusa with a lower case 'o'.

Specimen 24: Gastropod Bembexia sp. donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.10462

Specimen 25: Gastropod Euomphalopterus cirrhosa donated from the Brian Wood Collection G.07849

Specimen 26: Brachiopods Sphaerirhynchia wilsoni donated by E Bowdler G.04831

Specimen 27: Brachiopod Lingula lewisi donated by H Baschin G.09416

Specimen 28: Brachiopod Strophonella euglypha donated by Mr Sheppard G.13734. This has been misspelt: it should be euglypha and not eudlypha.

Specimen 29: Gastropod Liospira striatissima donated by H Baker G.03957.


Leintwardine (or Aberedw) Formation, about 425 (rather than 420) million years old, and is within the Ludfordian Stage.

Specimen 30: Phyllocarid crustacean Ceratiocaris sp. donated by R Smith G.9523.014

Specimen 31: Brachiopods Atrypa reticularis donated by B Martin G.00129

Specimen 32: Brachiopods Orthis orbicularis G.07009

Specimen 33: Plant (alga) Powysia bassettii (Edwards, 1977) G.11992. This is probably a water-born plant, not terrestrial. It was discovered in association with graptolites, which are free-swimming creatures often found in deep quiet water environments. The plant may well have been washed in from shallower water, possibly even freshwater. Incidentally, it has nothing to do with Dalmanites, which is a trilobite!

Specimen 34: Graptolites Saetograptus leintwardinensis (Lapworth, 1880) donated by Mark Norton G.09126. This has been misspelt: it should be Saetograptus leintwardinensis after Leintwardine and an important maker fossil for the Ludfordian Zone of the Ludlow Stage of the Silurian.

Specimen 35: Starfish Lapworthura miltoni (Salter, 1857) donated by Oliver and Francis Jones G.12045. This is a particularly fine specimen.

Specimen 36: Nautiloid cephalopod Gomphoceras sp. donated by Mr Buzzard G.03784

Specimen 37: Brachiopods Sphaerirhynchia wilsoni donated by Mr Sheppard G.12153. This has been misspelt and should be Sphaerirhynchia wilsoni, the same as 26.


Whitcliffe (or Cae’r mynach) Formation, about 423 (rather than 419) million years old, and is within the Ludfordian Stage.

Specimen 38: Cephalopod Orthoceras bullatum donated by Bowke Faber G.09563

Specimen 39: Bivalve Goniophora sp. donated by John Norton G.01597. This has been misspelt and should be Goniophora and not Gomiophora.

Specimen 40: Burrow of worm Serpulites longissimus G.03934

Specimen 41: Bivalve Pteronitella retroflexa donated by Mr Higgins G.04917. This has been misspelt and should be Pteronitella and not Pteromitella.

Specimen 42: Cephalopod Kionoceras angulatum donated by Lesley Cartwright G.05019

Specimen 43: Cephalopod Leurocycloceras whitcliffense donated by Mr Tanant-Evans G.05404

Specimen 44: Trilobite Homalonotus knightii donated by M Starkey G.05506 & G.05529.


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