Geology

The Peak District National Park is renowned for its landscape and its hardly surprising there have been several significant geologists, whose work is represented in collections in the county and around the world.

Buxton Museum is a great place to find out about the geology of the area, housing sabre tooth tiger remains from the Victory quarry, Dove Holes, which were found in 1903, and material from caves in the Manifold Valley, including Fox Holes, Elderbush cave and Thor's Fissure. The people and archaeology Society excavated these important sites under the supervision of professionals like J. W. Jackson, and Don Branwell of Sheffield University. The geology collection is the museums most significant holding and as well as the objects, there is the Boyd Dawkins and Jackson archive, covering the period from around 1858 to 1960, including correspondence with significant contemporary geologists and archaeologists. Their libraries are also at the Museum and contain books by many of the leading scientists of the age, Darwin, Evans, Garstang and several others of note.


It is said that once upon a time there were sharks in Derbyshire and hippopotamuses and rhinos, bears and hyenas and perhaps there was even a mermaid in Pooles Cavern - who knows? What is known that The Beaker people arrived in the Peak District near Buxton around 2000 BC from Northern Europe and their culture eventually merged into the Bronze Age. They prepared for the afterlife and lots of different burial mounds have been found around the Buxton area. Rare bronze earrings were discovered with a female skeleton at Staker Hill, just south of Buxton. Liff's Low burial mound, near Biggin, included the usual beaker as well as tools, fragments of ochre, boar's teeth and the skeleton of a man holding a quartz pebble. The skeleton and beaker excavated from here are displayed at Buxton Museum, together with similar cinerary urns containing cremated bones and other pottery.


Around 280 million years ago, strong earth movements forced the rocks to arch upwards to form an elongated dome dipping gently to the East and West and then erosion over millions of years wore away the crest of the dome, leaving older limestone rocks exposed in the central southern area of the Peak District and surrounded by a horseshoe of the younger gritstone's, shales and mudstones. SThe great gritstone edges and halls, which form a dramatic contrast to the bleak boggy moorland, are the result of exposure of the sandstones which were formerly carved into millstones and grindstones, hence their name of 'millstone grit.' Millstones can be found littered all over the Peak District moors, not far from Buxton itself.


Hot liquids rose from deep in the earth's crust and cooled as they neared the surface and chemicals in the liquid crystallised as they cooled, filling the cracks and cavities of the limestone deposits of rock known as ore, containing valuable metals such as lead and copper. The Peak District limestone was formed during the Carboniferous geological period and at this time, some 340 million years ago, Britain was part of a larger continental landmass close to the equator.


The geology of how Poole's Cavern in Buxton was formed is fascinating and you can read about it on the Poole's cavern page.


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