Mortimer Country Geology
The Silurian Sea
Imagine Mortimer Country well south of the equator, where current day South Africa is. To the west is a warm, shallow sea. In Silurian times, some 430 million years ago, that’s just where this landmass and the rest of southern Britain, was situated. We’ve just kept moving north and continue to do so, at 2cm a year.
The rocks you'll see exposed in Mortimer Country are from this Silurian system and geologically link our area to Ludlow and South Shropshire to the north and east, and to Radnorshire in the west.
Murchison and international rock formations
The Welsh Marches and Mortimer Country are the cradle of modern geology. Sir Roderick Murchison mapped the area in the 1830s and coined the term Silurian to describe the distinct rock formations and series he identified. He gave them local names - Ludlow, Aymestrey, Elton, Leintwardine, Bringewood, Downton and Wigmore. Wherever these Silurian rocks appear, anywhere in the world, these Mortimer Country names are the official descriptive terms.
The rocks you'll see in old quarries, road and green lane cuttings, as well as river and stream banks and beds are a mix of sandstones, siltstones, mudstones, limestones and shales. Many are rich in fossils such as corals, brachiopods, gastropods, trilobites and graptolites. All waiting to see the light of day for the first time in 420 million years once found by some lucky visitor. Follow the Geological Trail in Mortimer Forest near Ludlow, you are guaranteed to find some fossils.
Ice Age Lake
A mere 20,000 years ago, Britain experienced its last ice age. Ice sheets approached Mortimer Country from the north and west. The ice blocked the courses of the rivers Teme and Lugg, both of which used to flow east to west. Glacial lakes formed at Wigmore and Byton, the remnants of which can still be identified and the former well described in a local trail guide.
When, some 10,000 years ago the ice began to melt, the resultant flood waters cut gorges to the north through the Mortimer Country landscape. The Teme flood waters created Downton Gorge, while the Lugg cut Kinsham Gorge. Today, both gorges make for wonderful walks and exploration.
Spend some time in Mortimer Country, take yourself back a few years and marvel at what was.