The Malvern Hills Room
The first room inside the Gatehouse tells the earliest stories of the Malvern Hills.
Rocks and Fossils
The rocks that shaped the Malvern Hills are the oldest in England and Wales. They were formed in the Pre-Cambrian Age, between 600 and 1000 million years ago. The main rock is granite, but the hills yield many fossils, mostly from the later Silurian Age when sea covered the area. Simple animal and plant life forms were trapped in silt from the seas, which then compressed into layers of rock.
Visitors can appreciate how the formation of these ancient rocks and primeval seas have shaped and influenced the later development of the town as a resort. The pure water that attracted medical scientists to promote the famous Water Cure, is a direct result of the rock types formed millions of years ago. The hills that still regularly draw thousands of visitors each year are themselves the product of the earth shaping that took place before recognisable life forms began. Primitive creatures were later fossilised in layers of sediment and these too tell their own stories about the Malvern landscape. Many fossils were collected by Victorian naturalists and some of these feature in the displays. The rock types also determine how the land would be farmed in later periods.
The Malvern Hills Room also tells the story of the early communities who inhabited the area. Prehistoric flints, quern stones and tools indicate the presence of Bronze and Iron Age tribes from 800 BC onwards. Currency bars, created by Celtic blacksmiths to show their skills and wealth, are also on show. Two major hill forts were built on the Malvern Hills as early as 800 BC. They are now thought to have been used as temporary summer camps for markets and ritual ceremonies.
Romano-British pottery from several Malvern kilns prove the Romans were exploiting the ready supply of good quality clay, even though no evidence of a Romano British settlement has been uncovered.