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Geology of Buxton

Did you know that once upon a time there were supposedly sharks in Derbyshire? It is also rumoured there were hippopotamuses and rhinos, bears and hyenas. There's even a tall 'tail' about a mermaid!
The geology around Buxton is like much of the rest of the Peak Districts story. Around 280 million years ago, strong earth movements forced the rocks to arch upwards. These formed an elongated dome which dipped gently to the East and West. Over millions of years erosion wore away the crest of the dome, leaving much older limestone rocks, which were exposed in the central southern area of the Peak District and surrounded by a horseshoe of the younger grit stone's shale and mudstones.

The great grit stone edges and Tors were born, forming dramatic Tolkien-esque shapes to the bleak boggy moorland. The exposure of the sandstone were formerly carved into millstones and grindstones, can be found littered all over the Peak District moors, not far from Buxton itself and the name of 'millstone grit' was also born at the same time.

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.

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. They filled the cracks and cavities of the limestone deposits of rock known as ore, containing valuable metals such as lead and copper.

Around 2000BC, the Beaker people from Northern Europe arrived in the Peak District near Buxton, whose culture eventually merged into the Bronze Age. They believed in the afterlife and lots of different burial mounds have been found around the Buxton area. Liff's Low burial mound, near Biggin, included the usual beaker common to these people as well as tools, fragments of ochre, boar's teeth and the skeleton of a man holding a quartz pebble. Rare bronze earrings were discovered with a female skeleton at Staker Hill, just south of Buxton. The skeleton and beaker excavated from here are still displayed at Buxton Museum, together with pottery and similar urns containing cremated bones.

The Peak District National Park is renowned for its landscape and there have been several significant geologists, whose work is represented in collections in the county and around the world. The place to find these relics and the history, geology and archaeology of the area can be found in Buxton Museum, housing sabre tooth tiger remains from the Victory quarry, Dove Holes, which were found in 1903. There was also material from caves in the Manifold Valley, including Fox Holes, Elderbush cave and Thor's Fissure.

Under the supervision of professionals like J. W. Jackson, and Don Branwell of Sheffield University' the people and archaeology Society excavated these important sites. 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. These include 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.

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.