Visit the Derbyshire Coast:
National Stone Centre Site
330 million years ago, Wirksworth was on the coast of a tropical sea. Just to the south lay the deep blue waters of the Widmerpool Gulf , separating this area from the gnarled ridges of ancient rocks at Charnwood in Leicestershire. To the north, as far as Buxton and Castleton and eastwards into Lincolnshire, were shallow lagoons, only a few metres deep. The scene was rather like parts of present day Arabian Gulf and lay almost on the equator.
At the National Stone Centre site, one can see, probably more clearly than anywhere else in Britain, the fossil remains of the reef mounds. These formed a barrier protecting the lagoon from open waters of the Gulf.
The North East Quarry reveals a regularly bedded sequence of limestones which were deposited in lagoonal conditions. Nearby are the fossil remains of a colony of crinoids (looking like starfish on stalks when living). The ‘Reef' Quarry has few obvious beds, but is packed full of fossil remains. Then, in the South East Quarry, the beds represent underwater screes and reef fronts, plunging dramatically towards the deeper waters of the Gulf.
The aim of the National Stone Centre is to tell all aspects of the Story of Stone, its geological origins, the history of its working and its multiplicity of uses.