Shropshire Routes to Roots
|Routes | Changes in people and landscape | The physical landscape|
1. The origins of landscapes
How was Shropshire's landscape shaped by natural forces?
The greatest changes of all
When we look at the Shropshire landscape today, we see a vista of rolling agricultural plains and heather covered hills dotted with sheep. It seems as if it has always been so; but when we look at the geological history, we find that all is not what it seems. Who can imagine now that Wenlock Edge was formed from the bodies of soft-shelled sea creatures, basking in warm tropical seas near to the equator, over 400 million years ago? Could you guess that the sandstone that underlies most of the northern part of Shropshire is what remains of a vast desert formed near the equator around 200 million years ago?
The land we stand upon is constantly moving, although extremely slowly, and this is known as "Continental drift" (discussed later in Geological forces). Over millions of years great continents have travelled thousands of miles, and in that journey, the piece we call Shropshire has experienced many different climates and upheavals. The following chart shows the origin of some of our well-known landmarks.
Around two million years ago, the climate became a lot colder. Great ice sheets covered Shropshire in several waves, until finally starting a retreat about 15,000 years ago. They left behind vast amounts of clay, sand and gravel (Boulder Clay) that overlaid the older rocks, providing the County with its rich soils. The Ice Age also left its mark on the Shropshire landscape in much more obvious ways.
ContinueFind out about The Ice Age legacy: Next
Page created 2003 and last updated 30 July 2007