Sunday, 30 June 2019

Local Geology and Local History, Part 2

Our county has some cool geology!

We learnt that prehistoric volcanic ash fell into pockets in the dunes in the cretaceous greensand creating a chemical reaction which made smectite clay. As an adsorbent as well as an absorbent, smectite clay was used by the Romans to wash wool. Rediscovered over 1000 years later, the clay, also known as Fuller's Earth, was mined locally in bell pits. 

We learnt about the clay...

...experimented with soap and how it works...

...and then we went on an expedition to find evidence of the Fuller's Earth industry of the 1800s.

We were looking for shallow dips in a local pine forest, which are the filled-in and sunken bell pit mines. And we found them! Loads of them!

Greensand sandstone has been used locally in churches, walls and residential buildings throughout the centuries. 

We found a local, disused sandstone quarry. Just amazing that this sand is from the Cretaceous period when a warm, tropical sea divided the country - its beaches were here.

And less than 300 metres away we found a church wall with sandstone quarried from here.

We learnt about the local coprolite rush of the 1800s.

And went on an expedition to find clay from the Jurassic period.

We learnt that it's impermeable and this particular type self-burns, so perfect for the brick industry. Local houses are made of this brick and this lake is actually a disused quarry from the last century. In the distance, you can see the last remaining chimneys from the brick factories.

We visted a local museum which consolidated everything we had learnt ourselves! Awesome.

A bit of Gothic too from our church investigations.

Outside the museum: there used to be a castle built on this mound.

On our way back to the car we had to check out this neo-Norman church.

And then we explored some local hills: the newest part of our county, which is made of chalk.

The chalk valley we were looking for.

With our new knowledge of geology we went back to our fascinating local church ruins and worked out from where each of the refurbishments had sourced their building materials.

Norman cobbles washed up locally during the ice age.

Sandstone from the local greensand sandstone quarry.

Clunch from the chalk hills

...which weathers badly - note the less weathered part which is sheltered from the elements.

And the far chancel wall made of brick from local Jurassic period clay.

While we were there we noticed a pre-19th century nail

And medieval red paint covered in crumbling Protestant Reformation limewash.

We spent a day looking at the county's flora and fauna, using statistics from 2017.

And we used all our knowledge to see if we could find evidence of the 1629 date on Aunty G's house

We found Jacobean era wooden pegs in the beautiful aged beams.

The old staircase which predates the newer one.

A change in floor height which matches the layout idea for an older part of the house.

We discovered a fireplace behind a built-in wardrobe!

A doorway - now window - which could have been a servant's entrance?

A hidden recusant font? With hole which leads into the brickwork for the holy water.

A clear divide between the Jacobean brickwork and the early Georgian addition.

Consolidating our church investigative work with a task to write a story about a mouse living in a church, with all details and historical architecture to be inlcuded.

And a final, fun, finishing off trip the our lovely local pub from the Jacobean era which still has its inglenook fireplace, stunning bread oven, salt shelves and original beams.

Happy days! 

Click the red arrow, bottom right, for the first part of this unit.