Postcard geology

Discovering Geology — Maps and resources

BGS staff share some of their favourite sites of geological interest around the UK.

View of Constitution Hill from the pier on Aberystwyth promenade. Note the breakwaters and groynes that intersect the beach and reduce longshore drift, and the cliff railway, which is the longest in Britain. © Melanie Leng.

Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Explore the geology around this classic Victorian resort, which boasts the oldest pier in Wales.

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Geology of Arthur’s Seat

A short walk around Holyrood Park provides an insight into the geological history of area from the Carboniferous Period to now.

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Ballard Down headland from Swanage

Ballard Down, Dorset

To the north of the Swanage Bay is a prominent headland, which is a major Cretaceous Chalk Group exposure called Ballard Down.

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The Precambrian rocky crags at the summit of Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill, Leicestershire

The rocks that crop out on Beacon Hill are some of the oldest rocks in England and Wales. They formed when fine volcanic ash settled in an ocean, some 600 million years ago in the Precambrian period.

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BGS Wales office, Cardiff

Learn more about the interesting geological stories waiting to be unearthed just a stone’s throw from our Welsh office.

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Binny Craig, West Lothian

Binny Craig, West Lothian

Binny Craig is possibly West Lothian’s most prominent natural landmark. The craggy knoll, formed from an igneous intrusion, offers spectacular views from the summit.

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The ash from the volcanoes in the area would have settled under water to create layered deposits. This outcrop is on the same hill as Old John Tower. BGS © UKRI.

Bradgate Park, Leicestershire 

Bradgate Park is a large, public park located between Leicester and Loughborough in the Charnwood Forest area. The park is renowned for its Precambrian volcanic rocks and its remarkable fossils. It was once believed that there were no fossils older than the Cambrian Period (541 to 485 million years ago), but the discovery of the fossil Charnia in these Precambrian rocks made the area famous for changing our understanding of early life on Earth. 

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View looking northeast from near the summit of Caerketton Hill

Caerketton Hill, Pentland Regional Park

To the south-west of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills rise above the surroundings forming an iconic ancient volcanic landscape carved by recent glacial history

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Mercia Mudstone outcrop

Clifton Village, Nottingham

The river cliff beneath Clifton Village has excellent exposure of Mercia Mudstone, a blocky red mud rock with layers of fine green sand and mudstones.

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A sheep with big curly horns stands in front of her lamb. They are surrounded by grey boulders and lots of purple heather.

Edale and Kinder Scout, Derbyshire

Take a walk from Edale to Kinder Scout in the Peak District of Derbyshire, the highest point in the East Midlands.

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A castle sits on top of a high outcrop of rock. There and sand dunes and a beach in front of it.

The Farne Islands and Holy Island, Northumberland

Explore these ancient and mysterious islands of northern England and discover more about their natural and human history.

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The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Hexagonal blocks of brownish grey rock in the foregroud, with seain the biddle ground and a high cliffs of basailt columns and green grass in the background.

The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast form Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, formed 60 million years ago.

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Ham Hill, Somerset

The distinctive, warm honey-coloured building stone known as Hamstone, quarried from Ham Hill in Somerset, has a long history of use dating back as far as Roman times.

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A steep furnicular railway track rises up some cliffs behind some red brick buildings

Hastings, East Sussex

Hastings lies on the south-east coast of the UK with spectacular cliffs, expansive beaches and a wealth of fossils to find.

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Holbeck Hall Landslide - BGS

Holbeck Hall landslide, Scarborough

A series of active landslides stretch several kilometres in the cliffs to the south of Scarborough.

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Howell Quarry

Holwell Nature Reserve

Holwell Nature Reserve can be found near Melton Mowbray. Most of the rocks exposed are composed of sedimentary rocks from the Jurassic.

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Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon

Archaeology and geology collide in this fascinating cave below the classic English seaside resort of Torquay.

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Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset

Investigating the famous Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation at its namesake bay.

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Close up of Maharaja's well head

Maharaja’s Well

The story of the Maharaja’s Well is not just cultural but is intimately bound up with the geology of the Chilterns Hills.

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Mam Tor

Mam Tor, Derbyshire

Mam Tor, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, is an iconic hill formed from rocks that date to the Carboniferous, when Britain sat near the equator and enjoyed tropical weather conditions.

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Crossbedding in the entrance to Park Tunnel, Nottingham Castle.

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle sits atop an outcrop of the Sherwood Sandstone Group, which also hosts the myriad tunnels and caves for which the city is known.

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The Ningbo lions Highfields Park

Nottingham University Park

The grounds of Nottingham University have a number of interesting features set in extensive parkland.

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a green valley with a rainbow

The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy

The mysterious Parallel Roads of Glen Roy have attracted visitors for hundreds of years – but how did they form?

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A curved, steep side of a hill showing interbedded, horizontal rocks. The top of the hill and another hill behind it are flat.

Pen y Fan, South Wales

Walking in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales.

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Alabaster at Penarth Head

Alabaster from Penarth in Wales is a decorative stone used inside many buildings in the area. Find out more about its origin.

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A low cliff with reddish and white layers of rock beside foaming river water. A person wearing a green coat is examining the rocks. There are trees and grass on the slope above the cliff.

Radcliffe on Trent river bank

The River Trent is a highly active river that has carved and shaped the regional landscape of Nottinghamshire for thousands of years. In numerous places, it gently cuts its banks and provides fresh outcrops of rock, which can be seen in the village of Radcliffe on Trent.

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Radyr Stone Quarry

Radyr Stone was produced from a number of quarries in Cardiff. Take a geological walk to see a quarry and spot the stone’s use in the city.

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Normanton Church, Rutland

Rutland Water

Rutland Water was recently in the media when one of the longest and most complete Ichthyosaur fossils was discovered on the edge of Rutland water.

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Scarborough Castle headland


The Yorkshire coastal town of Scarborough sits on rocks from the Jurassic.

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Seaton Cliffs Nature Trail

Seaton Cliffs Nature Trail, Arbroath

The Seaton Cliffs Nature Trail boasts over 40 landmarks, consisting of caves, coves and bays, spectacular views over the North Sea and ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife.

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Lathkill Dale looking east

Upper Lathkill Dale and Ricklow Quarry

Ricklow Quarry is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and contains some of the best outcrops of Gigantoproductus fossils in the UK

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A yellow cliff with diagonal striations and a cave. A brick wall sit on top and there are gravestones in the grass at its base.

Urban geology in central Nottingham

A band of Permo-Triassic sandstone runs across Nottingham city centre, with particularly good exposure in the old Rock Cemetery.

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Maps and resources

Download and print free educational resources.

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Colour in Geology map


Explore or download a range of free-to-view, BGS maps to help you explore the rocks around you and learn more about geological time and climate change.

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