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Exploring the Landscape of The National Forest - New book shows us the importance of geology

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012

A new book launched by the National Forest Company and the British Geological Survey illustrates through walks and a simple geological map how everything about The National Forest stems from the underlying rocks.

The book uses ten local walks as a way of exploring geological, landscape and industrial heritage features in the Forest, including ‘Black gold at the heart of the Forest’, the wartime Fauld crater disaster, ‘The Building Stones of Burton upon Trent’, and is packed with fascinating information. For instance, did you know there was a school for carving local alabaster in Burton upon Trent, and that one of the last uses of Fauld alabaster was for a bath carved as a wedding present for Princess Margaret?

Geology has had a profound influence on the economy of The National Forest, dating back over many centuries. Have you ever wondered why Burton upon Trent has such a successful brewing industry? It’s directly related to the gypsum-rich rocks beneath the surface of the town that alter the chemistry of the water. This brings out the flavour of the hops during the brewing process to produce the distinctive Burton beers we all know and love. It is also because of the rocks and geological structures below the Forest that we had prosperous coal mining, lime yards, building stone such as Swithland slate and Millstone Grit, iron ore, fireclay and pottery clay –and, as a consequence, the communities that worked in these industries.

Geology forms the landscape and determines the natural habitats and wildlife that thrived over the centuries: acid heathland in Charnwood; the flood plain in the Trent valley; or a landscape most changed by human activity, such as the coalfield at the heart of The National Forest.

Sam Lattaway, Head of Access and Biodiversity at the National Forest Company, said: “Our aim in creating The National Forest is to work with the underlying geology of the land, and this book gives us a marvellous opportunity to tell the fascinating story of this part of the Midlands. We want people to think about what they are walking over, as well as what they are walking past.”

Keith Ambrose, Principal Geologist at the British Geological Survey and project leader for the book said: “We put together a good team of experts on the local geology to work on this. The National Forest is a key area with very interesting and varied geology that has provided a wealth of products for the area, and was the perfect location for another book in our series ‘Exploring the Landscape’.”

The book, which comes in a protective wallet with a separate, beautifully produced map, has been funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund through the Minerals Industry Research Organisation (MIRO) and co-funded by the British Geological Survey and is available for £6.95 from the British Geological Survey’s online bookshop at