Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2013
Day 1 - Pink Shap Quarry.
Shap Granite is widely used around the UK as a decorative building stone. It is a coarse grained granite formed by the cooling of a magma intrusion into the Cumbrian slates at the end of the Caledonian Orogeny, about 400 million years ago. The large pink crystals that are a characteristic feature of this rock are of the mineral Feldspar.
The Shap "Pink" Quarry is located near the village of Shap on the western side of the M6 motorway. The Shap "Blue" Quarry being located nearby.
The specimens below were recovered from a spoil tip near the quarry. The presence of copper ore nuggets in this tip proved a complete surprise!
Day 2 - Carrock Mine.
Carrock Mine was the site of the only tungsten mine in Britain outside of Cornwall and Devon. It is located in Grainsgill, a tributary of the River Caldew. Opening in 1854 mining operations fluctuated with activity increasing only when the value of the ore made working the seams profitable - generally during times of war. The mine closed for the last time in October 1981 and in 1988 the ore grinding mill and associated mine buildings were all demolished and the land returned to nature. The only remains left on site date from 1913.
Day 3 - Wastwater/Wasdale and Kirkby Slate Quarry.
Situated in Wasdale in the west of the Lake District, Wastwater is the deepest lake in England. This bofy of water is 3 miles long, a third of a mile wide and 268 feet deep. The rocks of Wasdale are formed from rocks of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group and erosion has produced vast and impressive scree slopes along the eastern shore.
At the head of Wasdale leading up to Great Gable is Gable Beck. The banks and stream bed of this picturesque stream is littered with various igneous rocks and was the source of the samples collected below:-
Although Honister Slate Mine is the most famous "slate" mine in the Lake District (see Field Trips 2011), the only true slate found in the Lake District is the Kirkby Slate from Burlington Quarry, Kirkby-in-Furness. These rocks were laid down 450 million years ago and have been quarried here since the 16th Century.
The specimen below, from the Glendaterra Valley near Keswick, is known as a "Chiastolite Slate" and is found in the Ordovician Skiddaw Group of rocks. This is another rock that is not actually a true slate. The lines are of the mineral Chiastolite, a form of Andalusite which contains cross-shaped inclusions of carbon.
Andalusite is an aluminium silicate and is named after the location where it was first found - Andalusia in Spain. The name Chiastolite is derived from the Greek "chiastos" meaning "cross".
Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to our very knowledgeable guides, Peter & Kate Kelsall.
Please note: Most of the Lake District is a designated National Park and is managed by the National Trust. The hammering of rock outcrops is strictly forbidden. The collection of small mineral samples is permitted from the northern end of the park in the Caldbeck Fells area but a licence is required. Click
It is said that Football is "a game of two halves". So it is with the Hunterian Museum. Much of the collection is on display in one of the University of Glasgow buildings, with the remainder being at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.
Rocks & Minerals
Founded in 1807 The Hunterian Museum is the oldest public museum in Scotland. The museum collection is based on a bequest from Dr William Hunter (1718 – 1783) a Scottish anatomist and physician.
The collection is rather eclectic and, on first impression, rather haphazard with fossils on display opposite musical instruments and ethnographic objects from Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages.
The displays of rocks, minerals and fossil are good but with very few of the specimens actually of Scottish origin. The main item on display on entering the main hall is a plesiosaur from outside Peterborough! Also on display are original tooth specimens of Megalosaurus and Iguanadon discovered by Gideon Mantell in Sussex.
Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00am – 5.00pm, Sundays 11.00am - 4.00pm, Closed Mondays. Admission is free.
For further information Telephone 0141 330 4221 or visit their
It is understood that more palaeontological specimens can be seen at the nearby Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery and Stone Museum plans to visit there in early 2014.
Royal College of Surgeons
The Hunterian Museum is on the first floor of the Royal College of Surgeons building in LIncoln's Inn Fields, London (nearest underground station - Holborn).
The Museum is split over two floors but only the lower floor - The Macrae Gallery - holds any geological specimens. These can be hard to find as, being sited within the Royal College of Surgeons and Hunter having been a surgeon himself, much of the collection comprises anatomical specimens and surgical instruments.
On display are:
Unfortunately, we are not able to illustrate these as photography is strictly prohibited within the Museum.
The Hunterian Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free. The Museum also closes annually for Good Friday, Easter Saturday and from Christmas Eve to New Years Day inclusive, reopening on the first working day.
For further information Telephone 020 7869 6560, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their
Comment: A small museum with little of geological interest so consider doubling up your visit with the University College of London - see below.
Look out for the sign
One of the Johnston-Lavis displays
Located on the first floor, South Wing of the main university building, the Rock Room contains displays on rocks and fossils from the oldest rocks in Great Britain - the Lewsian Gneiss of the Precambrian era - to a cluster of fossils bivalves from Crayford, Kent, dating from the Cenozoic. There is also an extensive display of minerals and crystals split up into the eight main chemical classifications, i.e. I Native Elements, II Sulphides, III Oxides, IV Halides, V Nitrates, VI Sulphates, VII Phosphates and VIII Silicates.
In the corridor outside the Rock Room can be found displays from the Dr Henry Johnston-Lavis (1856 - 1914) volcanological collection.
Opening times are Fridays only, 1pm to 3pm. Viewing at all other times is by appointment only. Admission is free. Telephone 020 7679 0664 for further details or visit their
Please Note: The Rock Room is primarily a resource for students of the Earth Sciences and when you visit you will invariably find students working in the 12:40 01/12/2013room. Please try not to disrupt their studies (we did not feel able to take photographs within the room for this very reason).
Located in a separate building on the corner of Gower Street and University Street, The Grant Museum of Zoology contains preserved, mounted and anatomical specimens from the animal kingdom both across the world and across geological time.
Many of the specimens on display are of contemporary animals but in addition to those illustrated above there are also a number of displays of fossil remains around the museum, some real, some cast replicas, representing mammoth, prehistoric horses, ammonites, icthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, rhamphorinchus, compsognatus and iguanodon.
Opening times are Monday - Saturday from 1pm to 5pm. Admission free. Disabled access provided.
Telephone 020 7679 2000 for further details or visit their
Please Note: Like the Rock Room, the contents of the Museum are used as a teaching resource for students and when you visit you will invariably find students working in the room. Please try not to disrupt their studies.