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Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2015


ASHFORD MUSEUM, ASHFORD, KENT - MAY 2015
Ashford Museum
Ashford Museum
Located in a 17th century Grade II listed building at the end of a quiet pedestrian passge, the Town Museum in Ashford is primarily geared towards railway memorabilia, with some local history, particularly covering the two world wars. There are a few geological specimens on display but many are poorly identified with little description of type, age or provenance.

Main Display
Main Display

The main geology display is on the ground floor and contains locally obtained specimens of Jurassic plants, Cretaceous molluscs, echinoids and ammonites along with bones from the Pleistocene and flint axes.

Left Side of Cabinet
Left Side of Cabinet
Centre of Cabinet
Centre of Cabinet
Right Side of Cabinet
Right Side of Cabinet

Flint Axe/Dinosaur Bone
Flint Axe/Dinosaur Bone
On the first floor is a single cabinet containing a locally found flint axe head and a dinosaur bone (probably Iguanadon).

Opening times are 11am - 2pm Tuesday-Saturday from April to late October each year. Admission is free. There is disabled access but only to the ground floor.

Contact Details:
Ashford Borough Museum, The Churchyard, ASHFORD, Kent TN23 1QG
E-Mail: ashford.museum@ntlworld.com

Visit their website for further information.


H G CLARKE & SON - JULY 2015
Entrance to the Quarry
Entrance to the Quarry
View of the quarry site from the nearby Totternhoe Knolls
View of the quarry site from the nearby Totternhoe Knolls

A family run company formed in 1920, H G Clarke & Son exploit a unique type of chalk called "Totternhoe Stone", also known as Bedfordshire Clunch, "Clunch" is an old term often used in England for a soft stone sometimes used for building. Bedfordshire Clunch is a chalk from the Cenomanian of the Upper Cretaceous (93.9 - 100.5 mya) but is made harder than usual by the inclusion of silica in its mix. Clunch can also contain iron and small micro-crystals of iron pyrites are not uncommon.

Part of the 'Grey Chalk Subgroup', clunch is overlain by soft chalk marls (chalk mixed with clay) and underlain by hard argillaceous chalk marls (chalk mixed with clay containing aluminium silicates).

Close up of a clunch boulder
Close up of a clunch boulder

In this photo can be seen the distinctive infilled veins and tubes from molluscs burrowing through the chalk silt of the sea floor before it was compressed and hardened into stone.

Unlike other chalk strata, the Clunch layers contain absolutely no flints and it is possible that this is because the silica that normally forms flint bands and nodules is uniformly distributed within the chalk itself (the question - why? - would make an interesting research project!).

Clunch has been mined as a building stone at Totternhoe since medieval times with miners digging adits and following the clunch levels into the surrounding hills that form part of the Chilterns. Today, clunch is extracted by an open cast method by opening and following the original medieval adits. The clunch beds can be anything from 0.5 - 5 metres thick. The 'normal' chalk overburden was once sent to local kilns to be turned into lime for the cement industry.

Although the quarry itself is near the village of Totternhoe, Bedfordshire, the company is based in the village of Weston Underwood, in Buckinghamshire - some 20 miles away - and it is here that blocks of stone are brought to be cut and finished.

Chain Saw for cutting blocks into smaller slabs
Chain saw for cutting blocks into smaller slabs
Diamond tipped saw for shaping and finishing
Diamond tipped saw for shaping and finishing
Clunch rubble
Clunch rubble

Many old buildings, such as Woburn and Westminster Abbeys have clunch used in their stonework and it forms the white squares in the distinctive checkerboard patterns used in churches across Bedfordshire. Below is the parish church of St Giles in Totternhoe Village showing this arrangement:-

St Giles Church
St Giles Church
Close up of chequer
Close up of checker
Close up of flint block
Close up of flint block
Close up of clunch block
Close up of clunch block

Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to Mr Angus Clarke, current owner of the company for his kind invitation to visit and for his donation of samples of raw and worked clunch to add to our collection. The Trustees of Stone Museum wish him all the very best in his drive for H G Clarke & Son to reach its' centenary in 2020.


For further information on the history of Totternhoe Quarry, visit the Bedfordshire County Council website. For details on the commercial supply of excellent quality clunch, please contact:

H G Clarke & Son
High Street
Weston Underwood
OLNEY Buckinghamshire
MK46 5JR

E-Mail: info@clunch.co.uk
Phone: 01234 712047
Website: www.clunch.co.uk


THE WEALD OF KENT - OCTOBER 2015

HIGH ROCKS - ERIDGE

The High Rocks at Eridge, on the outskirts of Royal Tunbridge Wells, are a 12 metre high outcrop of the Ardingly Sandstone, part of the Wealden Group dating from the Valangian Stage of the Lower Cretaceous (about 133-140 million years ago) and forms part of the Lower Tunbridge Wells Sand Member. Examples of Ardingly Sandstone and Lower Tunbridge Wells Sand are below:

Ardingly Sandstone
Ardingly Sandstone
Lower Tunbridge Wells Sand
Lower Tunbridge Wells Sand

A tourist attraction since the 17th century, the site once also contained a maze, bowling green, gambling rooms and cold baths. The current site was laid out in the 19th century when "The Aerial Walk", a series of bridges linking the tops of the crags, was built. The site extends to almost 8 acres (over 3 hectares).

Entrance
Main Entrance
The Cliffs
Cliffs
Aerial Walk
Part of the Aerial Walk
Great Toad Rock
Great Toad Rock

Open GullOpen gulls (tension cracks) are uncommon geological features in Britain but abound at High Rocks with some wide enough for a person to comfortably walk through. The cracks in the sandstone would originally have formed as the strata were deformed during the uplift of the Wealden anticline as part of the Alpine Orogeny (about 50 million years ago) and become wider due to the freeze/thaw effect of periglacial conditions during the Pleistocene.

Opening times are 10.15 to 5pm (or dusk if earlier) Wednesday to Subdays. Admission charges vary according to the day of the week and whether you want to climb the rocks or just walk around the site. See their website for details. Entry Tickets are sold in the lower Public Bar across the road. (Entrance through the garden gate). Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Contact Details:
The High Rocks, High Rocks Lane, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9JJ
E-Mail: enquiries@highrocks.co.uk

Visit their website for further information.


HARRISON'S ROCKS - GROOMBRIDGE

About 3 miles from The High Rocks is another outcrop of the Ardingly Sandstone, known as Harrison's Rocks. These can be found at the edge of Birchden Woods - which are owned by The Forestry Commission. The rocks themselves are owned and managed by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) as a training site for climbers.

For a panoramic view of Harrison's Rocks, it is best to use the public footpath that runs alongside the Spa Valley Railway line. To see the rocks up close, there is a an entrance gate about halfway along this footpath into the BMC site.

Entrance
Main Entrance
.
The Cliffs
The outcrop viewed from the public footpath by the Spa Valley Railway Line
Close-up of the outcrop
Close up of the outcrop from the BMC footpath
Climbers
Climbers

Access to the site is via Birchden Woods where a pay & display car park and public toilets are available. The track to Harrison's Rocks is signposted from the car park but this seems to be the only sign that exists and just points you in a general southerly direction. Look for a footpath at the south eastern corner of the car park. Follow this and you will (eventually - about a 10 minute walk) come to the gate shown in the first photo above.

For information on Birchden Woods (including latest information on access, parking charges etc) - visit the Forestry Commission website
For information on Harrison's Rocks - visit the British Mountaineering Council website


DRYHILL QUARRY

This former roadstone quarry is off the A25 between Sundridge and Riverhead. Rock outcrops comprise alternating beds of hard limestone, known in Kent as "Ragstone" and loosely cemented sandstone, known as "Hassock". These deposits date from the Lower Cretaceous (about 115 million years ago) and as with The Weald, were tilted into a syncline by the Alpine Orogeny. The quarry closed in the 1950s and the site is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Ragstone
Ragstone
Hassock
Hassock

Information
Entrance Information Board
Entrance
Outcrop at entrance to site
Syncline
Outcrop showing tilted strata (syncline) within the site

There is a free parking at Dryhill but no other facilities.

For further information Telephone Kent Country Parks on 01732 823570, e-mail kentcountryparks@kent.gov.uk or visit their website


ICELAND - OCTOBER 2015

Sitting just outside the Arctic Circle and being the only patch of land that sits directly over the mid-Atlantic Ridge means that this is a land of glaciers and volcanoes. Iceland therefore fully deserves it's pseudonym of The Land of Fire & Ice.

This "field trip" was undertaken by two of our friends and supporters, Ms Debbie Glover and Mr Karl Joad of Staines-Upon-Thames, Surrey and Stone Museum of Geology is indebted to them for providing us with the photographs and geological specimens below.

Pingvellir Pingvellir

The plain of Pingvellir, some 27miles (44km) east of Reykyavik sits either side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This means that the eastern half of the plain sits on the European tectonic plate while the western half sits on the North American tectonic plate.

Langjokull Langjokull

Langjokull is the second largest glacier on Iceland after Vatnajokull in the east of Iceland and like Vatnajokull, also has an active volcano Hveravellir beneath it. This photograph shows the rock field left behind by the retreat (melting) of the glacier.

The original deposition of this newly visible lava field dates from around 7,800 years ago and specimens of the type of rocks seen in this photograph were collected and are shown below.

Little Geysir Little Geysir

Litli Geysir is one of the thirty or so minor geysers and hot pools in the geothermally active Haukadular valley to the south-east of Reykyavik.

The nearby "Great" Geysir - which gave it's name to eruptions of hot water in geothermal areas around the world - no longer erupts. The suspected cause being that earthquakes, which are very common in Iceland, may have blocked the underground water course that fed it. This has happened before and it is likely that following future earthquakes the water flow may return.

Heimay Scoria Scoria from the island of Heimay. This specimen is from the eruption of Eldfell which took place on 23rd January 1973. Scoria is a light and gas bubble filled rock that resembles pumice but unlike pumice, does not float on water.
Langjokull Scoria Scoria from the Langjokull rock field.
Langjokull Vesilcular Basalt Vesicular Basalt from the Langjokull rock field.

For further information on visiting this geological wonderland, visit the Icelandic Tourist Board website


MAIDSTONE MUSEUM, KENT - NOVEMBER 2015
Maidstone Museum
Maidstone Museum
Situated in the centre of the county town of Maidstone, the Museum (and Art Gallery) is located in a Tudor Manor House in front of Brenchley Gardens. The collection comprises objects covering the natural, industrial and social history of Kent and includes major displays of rocks, fossils and minerals. Most geological specimens are located in a gallery on the first floor but there are a few to be found on the ground floor, such as a display case including some minerals and a cast of an iguanadon footprint near the Museum Shop and a display of flint tools along the left side of the Archaeology gallery as you enter.

Velociraptor
Replica Velociraptor just inside the main entrance
       Cast
Cast of Iguanodon Footprint
        Cast
Some of the flint tools in the Archaeology Gallery

Earth Science Gallery
Entrance to the Earth Science Gallery

Carboniferous Fossils
Carboniferous Fossils
  Early Cretaceous
Early Cretaceous Fossils
  Late Cretaceous
Late Cretaceous Fossils
Eocene
Eocene Fossils
  Pleistocene
Pleistocene Fossils
  Minerals
One of several mineral displays

Pride of place in the museum is the famous Iguanadon fossil discovered locally in 1834 during the excavation of a quarry. The original is in the Natural History Museum in London but the cast shown here is impressive and deemed so significant a local historical artifact that it has been included onto the coat of arms of Maidstone.

Iguanodon Fossil
Iguanodon Fossil
  Crest
Coat of Arms

Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12pm - 4pm but these can vary so you are strongly advised to check with the Museum for the times on the day of your planned visit.

Admission is free and there is full disabled access to all parts of the Museum. Toilets/Refreshments are available on site. Nearest parking is the multi-storey car park above Fremlin Walk shopping centre directly opposite the Museum.

For Further information:
Write to: Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, St. Faith's Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1LH
E-Mail: museuminfo@maidstone.gov.uk
Telephone: 01622 602838

or visit their website


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