Charnwood Arts is worked in collaboration with Buzzing Roots on an exciting project to help unlock the secrets of Charnwood Forest's geo-heritage and the extraordinary natural habitat it provides.
Artist Emily Hett and members from the Charnwood Forest Geopark team shared their skills and knowledge to help workshop participants explore the Charnwood landscape through art and science.
Over 100 children and their families have contributed to the project, creating artwork from natural materials, clay ... and even mud!
The work created was then used by artist Emily Hett to design a series of flags, accompanied by the story of Charnwood's geo-history, to produce a trail at Lower Beacon Hill, details of which you can see below.
The Geological Story and extracts from the artwork:
The Earth, just like the other planets in our Solar System, formed around 4600 million years ago, and has a core of iron and nickel at its centre. The surface of the Earth would have been much hotter than today, with no oceans, no continents, and no life… yet.
570 million years ago, Charnwood Forest would have looked a lot different to today. The area would have been under the sea, near a number of volcanic islands. Sediment was deposited around these islands, including layers of volcanic ash from the nearby eruptions. The rocks seen at the summit of Beacon Hill are an excellent example of these sediments.
Among the layers of our 560 million year old sediments sat an unexpected resident: Charnia. This astonishing fossil is now known to be some of the oldest evidence of animals, making Charnwood Forest a top destination for scientist who want to understand how our planet went from a world of microbes, to the animal-house of today!
Coal! This well-known rock type was mined on the western side of Charnwood Forest, and tells us of a time around 315 million years ago, when the area would have been a mixture of swamps, estuaries, and deltas. When the ancient trees that lived in these environments died, they became buried and compressed – turning into coal.
During the Triassic, roughly 240 million years ago, Charnwood Forest would have been at the centre of a large, hot desert. Gusting winds blew silt and sand around the craggy hills that dominated the landscape, and occasional monsoon-like rains created flash floods that surged down ancient valleys.
Around 450,000 years ago, much of Britain was covered in a thick layer of glacial ice. The ice- sheet would have slowly moved down from the north, picking-up and transporting south exotic pebbles not usually found in Charnwood Forest…
As the great ice-sheets of around 450,000 years ago melted, they deposited any sediment collected during their journey across the landscape. The fields of Charnwood Forest are full of these exotic transported pebbles; including limestone, chalk, and flint. This suggests the glaciers came here from the north or east, where these rock types can be found.
Today’s Charnwood Forest, filled with amazing life, may be very different from the landscapes our region has seen throughout geological history, but they are all connected. The variety of rocks and soils here – the geodiversity – influences what can grow and live here today – the biodiversity. From new leaves to ancient rocks, we’re all connected through nature.
Credits: Text - Dr. Jack Matthews, Charnwood Geopark. Artwork - Emily Hett