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You are in: Black Country > Nature > Nature Features > Nature of Britain: Wren's Nest

Giving a talk at Wren's Nest

Giving a talk at Wren's Nest

Nature of Britain: Wren's Nest

Wren's Nest is an internationally recognised site of important geological heritage. Kevin Clements the Countryside Manager for Dudley told us a little about the site.

Being almost as far away from the sea as one can be in this country, few would believe that the area where Dudley now stands was once lapped by warm tropical seas, with coral reefs inhabited by trilobites, crinoids, brachiopods and many other creatures.

Aerial shot of Wren's Nest

Aerial shot of Wren's Nest

Although that was over 420 million years ago, the ripples in the sand of those ancient sea beds and the fossilised remains of the animals can be found today in the limestone rocks at Wren's Nest.

A classic geological site of exceptional importance, Wren's Nest is one of the most notable in the British Isles, visited by scientists from all over the world.

It was first recognised by Sir Roderick Murchison, who in 1839 published his scientific work 'The Silurian System'.

Wren's Nest

Wren's Nest - picture © Mike Jemmett

Industrial past

Wren's Nest played an important part in the very development of the Black Country. Abraham Darby, one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, was born on Wren's Nest in 1678.

Darby's great-uncle, Dud Dudley, had developed a process to smelt iron with coke, which Darby perfected.

During the height of the Industrial Revolution, up to 20,000 tons of limestone was removed annually from the site to use in local blast furnaces. This ceased in 1924, leaving the area honeycombed with quarries and caverns – some like Seven Sisters descended 100 metres below the hill to canal basins.


Fossil nicknamed The Dudley Bug

Finding fossils

During this period, many of the best fossils were found, the most famous being the Trilobites. One trilobite was so common that is was nicknamed the 'Dudley Bug' and featured on the town's Coat of Arms until 1974.

Back to nature

After the mining ceased the hill was left to nature. Now the limestone supports many plants, and woodlands are home to birds like the Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the uncommon White-letter Hairstreak butterfly. Numerous bats also use the caverns to roost.

Wren's Nest

Wren's Nest - picture © Mike Jemmett

Managing the site

The site is managed by a team of wardens and volunteers. Their work is wide ranging.

During the summer they are kept busy with guided walks, educational visits and wildlife surveys.

But in winter the work is more physical -  tasks include maintaining views of key geological exposures, tree management and hedge laying, as well as estate maintenance such as fence and footpath repairs.

It's a first

Wren's Nest was declared the UK's first ever urban national nature reserve in 1956.

Volunteers working

Volunteers at Wren's Nest

Conservation is ongoing

A major roof collapse in October 2001 could have resulted in the loss of the Seven Sisters. However a project developed between Dudley Council and its partners temporarily stabilised the cavern.

We would like to restore the Seven Sisters as well as enhancing visitor and interpretation facilities on site.

We, and our Black Country partners, were one of six national projects bidding for up to £50 million from BIG Lottery’s Living Landmarks programme in December 2007. Unfortunately our bid was unsuccessful.

Other sites across the Borough

We have several other valuable sites across the Borough. To find out more about them visit the Dudley Council website.

last updated: 29/04/2008 at 15:47
created: 10/10/2007

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