William Smith, Strata, 1815
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The Geology of Northamptonshire
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British Isles Geology - BGS

We are all familiar with "The Jurasic Coast" where dinosaur bones seem to tumble out of the rocks after every storm. Not everyone realises that same band of rocks which outcrops in Devon and Dorset (and is shown in blue on the map here) stretches across England to Northamptonshire and beyond.

Formed between 150 and 200 million years ago, these rocks are rich not only in fossils but also in mineral resources. The Limestone, in particular, has supplied crushed rock as well as the honey-coloured building stone that forms so many of our buildings and the Collyweston Slate which tops some of them. The associated Northampton Sand Formation includes relatively coarse sandstone, rich in iron compounds, and commonly referred to as Ironstone; its extraction and processing at Corby and Wellingborough and elsewhere has significantly affected the shape and economy of the county.

These bedrocks are often overlaid by boulder clay and sand and gravel, deposited when ice sheets covered Northamptonshire from 130,000 to 300,000 years ago. The Oxford Clay around Oundle and elsewhere is, however, another Jurassic deposit.

Great Doddington Roadworks Cross Section
Great Doddington Roadworks Geological Map

Few people welcome the announcement of roadworks but sometimes they give us an unusual insight into the ground beneath our feet. A recent repair to the slip road off the A45 at Great Doddington opened for a few weeks a fascinating view of our geological history.

Click or tap either image above to see it enlarged. Use this link to explore the geology of your home area.

Northamptonshire County Council commissioned a "Landscape Character Assesment" of the county a while ago and this includes more information about the Geology and other Geograhical characteristics of our area (and we shall return to some of those in future articles in this Blog). You can download it now »

William Smith, the "Father of English Geology"

William 'Strata' Smith, died in Northampton 28th August 1839 and is buried just to the west of St. Peter's Church. His geological map of England published in 1815 is one of earliest examples of its type and the first to cover such a large area in so much detail. An extract from it appears as the background to this page ( view now » ). Find our more about William Smith on Wikipedia »

The Geological Society has published an article on "William Smith's last resting-place" in Northampton which also includes a brief study of the building stones of All Saints’ Church, Brixworth. Read now »

William Smith

William Smith

The Father of English Geology
Buried at Northampton
Painted by Hugues Fourau (1803-1873)

Contains British Geological Survey materials
© UKRI 2019