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28 October 2014
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The rocks that make the hills
Stegasaurus   The Malvern Hills are some of the oldest and hardest rocks in the country. Find out more of the origins of the hills.
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See our picture gallery of Gullet Quarry and the rock strata around it.

To understand why the Malvern Hills stand up so proud of the surrounding countryside you have to go far back into pre-history.

The surface of the earth was very different, and the land that is now Great Britain was somewhere south of the equator.

The ancient core of the Malvern Hills is more than 600 million years old, and was thrust through the sedimentary rocks that lay above them in a huge earth movement known to geologists as the Cheltenham Drive.

Rock strata at Gullet quarry
Rock strata at Gullet quarry
This core of rock is very very hard and the rocks on either side are much softer.

This leads to a phenomenon called 'differential erosion', where the softer rocks are worn away much quicker than the harder ones, forming the distinctive ridge of the Malverns.

The best place to see the various rock strata is Gullet Quarry, just off Castlemorton Common at the southern end of the hills. (see map)

Here the quarrying work has exposed the rock strata, showing how the sedimentary rocks, which were laid down horizontally on the sea bed, were pushed up nearly vertically by the Cheltenham Drive.

Geologist from all over the world come to the quarry to look at these unusual rock strata, but if you're planning to take a look yourself be warned - it's quite a stiff climb!

Malvern Hills index

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Listen to a special report on the geology of the Malvern Hills by BBC Hereford and Worcester's Claudia Berry (56k)
BBC download guide
Free Real player
More about the Malverns

Malvern Hills:
Beacons
Geology
History
Quarrying
Railway tunnels
Malvern water

360 degree pictures:
British camp
Millennium Hill
North Hill
Worcestershire Beacon
Wyche Cutting

 

Weblinks
Malvern Hills Conservators
Malvern Hills District Council
Malvern Civic Society

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Contact us with your Malvern memories or send us your photographs




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