Geology and natural history

The geology collection

The Malvern Hills are formed of hard igneous rocks dating from the Precambrian period (600 million year ago (MYA)).  To the west are softer sedimentary rocks of the Silurian period (440 MYA) which are rich in fossils, and to the east are rocks of the Triassic and Jurassic periods (180 MYA).  The museum has a large collection of rocks and fossils from the Malvern area.  The collection includes igneous and metamorphic rocks from the Malvern Hills, and local Silurian and Jurassic fossils.  It also has tree fossils from the Carboniferous period collected in the Forest of Dean.  The museum’s geology collection was started by the Malvern Naturalists Field Club in the 1850s, and was kept for many years at Malvern Library, before the new museum was founded in 1980.

Early history of the Malvern Naturalists Field Club

Early history of the Malvern Naturalists Field Club

Silurian fossils

The collection of Silurian fossils contains several hundred specimens including trilobites, brachiopods, corals and crinoids, all collected locally.  Trilobites are mainly of the genus Calymene (the “Dudley Bug”) and there are many Dalmanites tails.  Many of the best fossils come from the local beds of the Wenlock Shale.

Fossil trilobite ("Dudley Bug") and crinoid ('sea lily')

Fossil trilobite (“Dudley Bug”) and crinoid (‘sea lily’)

Malvern trilobites

The museum has over 20 trilobite fossils of four main types

The museum has over 20 trilobite fossils of four main types

Other fossils

Later fossils include Carboniferous plants.  There are also dozens of Jurassic bivalves of the genus Gryphaea, many coming from local gravel pits.  Jurassic fossils include polished sections of an ammonite and a plesiosaur vertebra from elsewhere in England.  While these specimens are not local, the Rev William Symonds had seen the fossil bones of swimming reptiles (Ichthyosaur) burnt locally for lime during the Victorian period.

Fossils of Carboniferous trees

Fossils of Carboniferous trees

The natural history collection

The museum also has a collection of snail shells, collected in the local area and originally displayed at Malvern Library.  A small collection of sea shells, from all parts of the world was donated to Malvern Library in the 1920s and now forms part of the museum’s collection in store displayed in the 1980s and is now in store.  We also have several boxes of moths’ and butterfly eggs, and Mycetozoa, again from the early Field Club days.