Northumberland has an amazing variety of rocks and fossils, equal to any around the UK, that underpin wildlife and habitats and now, the public has 31 days to vote for Northumberland’s favourite rock and fossil.
Literally the bedrock of the world’s heritage, economy and tourism, rocks have lots to tell scientists about things that are happening to landscapes as the world’s climate continues to change.
Following on from Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s 50th Anniversary Rock Festival and subsequent best-selling book aptly titled Northumberland Rocks, the wildlife charity, together with its partners: The Natural History Society of Northumbria, Visit Northumberland, Northumberland & Newcastle Society and North Eastern Geological Society, has decided to keep the enthusiasm for geology going by launching the first online public vote to find the county rock and fossil for Northumberland.
For the whole of August, voters will have a shortlist of five great rocks and fossils to choose from:
For the rock, votes are open for:
- Dolerite of the Whin Sill, the foundation for much of Hadrian’s Wall and the coastal castles
- Granite of the Cheviots - an ultra-hard, mineral-packed rock that forms the mountains of the Cheviots
- Coal - part of our heritage and vital for industry in the 19th and 20th century
- Sandstone - used in building the majority of our towns and monuments, including Grey Street in Newcastle, Hadrian’s Wall and Alnwick Castle
- Limestone - full of fossils, it forms unusual landscapes, from pavements to caves and potholes, and creates botanical hotspots for unusual plants.
For the fossil, votes are open for:
- Lepidodendron and stigmaria the 300 million year old fossils of tree trunks and roots
- Anthracosaurus - aka the Coal Lizard - a vicious predator long before the dinosaurs that hunted in coal swamps and on display today in the Great North Museum: Hancock
- Corals - animals that live in the sea, usually when it’s shallow, rocky, clear and clean.
- Crinoids - an ancient ‘lily of the sea’ and often referred to as St Cuthbert’s Beads.
- Brachiopods - sea shells that lived in the warm tropical seas that covered Northumberland 320 million years ago.
to cast a vote.
Ian Jackson, geologist and trustee with Northumberland Wildlife Trust says:
“Rocks and fossils are a great way of getting people to enjoy and experience nature and the surrounding landscape. Ultimately, we believe that the more people really connect with nature, the more they’ll act to protect it.
“Most US States have a state rock and fossil but, to the best of our knowledge, no British county has done this, so Northumberland will be the first county to have them voted for by the public which is very exciting.
“The Northumberland Rocks book placed easily understandable information on a variety of county rocks and fossils on book shelves and inspired people to visit 50 special places across Northumberland, so I’m hoping this venture generates even more interest and debate.”
The vote will open on Tuesday 1st August
and close on Thursday 31st August 2023
with the result being announced early September 2023