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You are in: Black Country > Uncovered > Walk Through Time > Page 3
Walking through the geological cutting
Walking through the geological cutting

Black Country Walk Through Time

Three million year walk

You'll see there is a pathway cut into the hill. Walk up the cutting - you're walking through three million years of history!

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In the 1960s, English Heritage cut this trench through the rock. The rock is made up of lots of layers stacked on top of each other, each layer representing a period of time.

audioWhat is the geological cutting? Listen to Graham Worton »

Look closely at the particles in the rock - they become finer as you walk up through the cutting. Each layer gives geologists clues - the layers here represent sea levels. Fine particles mean that the water wasn't very energetic. (If it was rushing in fast currents, it would carry bigger pebbles and rocks.) So, because the particles change, the water which covered Dudley millions of years ago changed. So was the land rising or the sea level dropping? Scientist wanted to find out, so they cut this trench straight through this limestone hill.

audioWhat was Dudley like millions of years ago? Listen to Graham Worton »

Orange stripe shows volcanic activity
Orange stripe shows volcanic activity

Look out for yellow/orange stripes in the limestone. These show volcanic activity. When a volcano erupted, it covered the ground (and sea!) with a layer of volcanic ash and rock. And here it is, sandwiched in the limestone.

Look out, too, for holes in the rock - they're the burrows of soft-bodied creatures (like worms). Their bodies rotted away but the burrows remain.

Since the cutting was made, plants have begun to move in. They're growing in cracks in the rock (as you can see in the photo, right). Soil starts to build up and the plants' roots can work their way through to anchor themselves in the rock.

Gate after The Caves pub
Gate after The Caves pub

The bottom of the cutting, you can see the road on the right which is raised above where you're standing. The 18th century quarrymen left the limestone under the road - so the road must be older than the quarries! The trees growing here tell historians exactly when the quarrying stopped - that's when they started to grow. If you cut down a tree, a slice across the trunk shows rings of growth which can be used to accurately calculate the age of the tree.

Walk out at the foot of the cutting onto Wren's Hill Road. Turn left and go through the gate after The Caves pub (see photo, above).

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Map of Dudley (© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004)
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004

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WATCH/LISTEN TO WALKS Realplayer required
audio   What is the geological cutting?
audio   What was Dudley like millions of years ago?
audio   Why was limestone mined?
Gallery - Dudley fossils
Gallery - unusual fossils
Meet Wendy, local BBC presenter
Birmingham Walk Through Time
Wolverhampton Walk

Black Country Uncovered

Hereford Walk Through Time
Stoke Walk Through Time
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Dudley Museum
Dudley Council
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Fox illustration, on Science & Nature
Fossil Fun - be a palaeontologist!
Coral around Britain today
Visit's Natural History section
bullet point Glossary - not sure what a term means? Look it up here
bullet point Toolkit - explore the rocks of Britain with this cool interactive feature
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