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The John Martin Heritage Festival

The Art of Geology with Dr Elizabeth Pickett and Henry Swaddle

21 May 2011 2pm-5pm

Allen Banks Car Park

Walkers joined Dr Elizabeth Pickett of the North Pennines AONB and Henry Swaddle from the Festival for this sell out event in the gorge which inspired those landscapes of the young John Martin.

Walkers were able to speculate on some of Martin's inspiration and how this landscape was first formed.

Weather for this 3 mile walk along a mix of rocky paths and uneven surfaces was blustery but stayed dry and sunny.  Also ably assisting on the day were Mike Parkin JMF, Lesley Silvera AONB and the National Trust's Laura Jackson.

The walkers were from a varied cross section of interests and ages but all enjoyed this opportunity to see examples of Martin's pictures and hear, expertly explained, their topographical features.

Dr Pickett described how the area was once an equatorial tropical delta with layers of carboniferous limestone and sandstone.  The Haydon Bridge Dyke was seen at one point in the gorge and ripple marks and fault discontinuities indicated along with many other of the rich geological features present.   A fossil bearing limestone pavement in the river Allen near the suspension bridge was indicated.

John Martin himself was also known for his interest in palaeontology and his associations with Dr Gideon Mantell and Thomas Hawkins, his famous Victorian contemporaries, was illustrated with copies of his frontispieces for their books.  Martin's paintings of Vesuvius' imagined volcanic activity were also shown.

Locations of Martin era lead and Bell Pit coal mining were described near Morallee Wood.

The following event photographs illustrate some of the features of the afternoon's walk.

Dr Pickett diplays layering of rock

Dr Pickett illustrates the aspects of layering

Walkers listen to talk by Dr Pickett

Some of the walkers listen intently

Shingle beech at swimmimg pool

The shingle beach at the 'swimming pool' is examined for fossils and other characteristic rock types washed down from other regions

Raven Crag Martinian feature

Part of Raven Crag a feature of Martinian landscape

Horse tails

Horsetails an ancient plant whose early forms are found in fossils

Old oak roots

An oak tree at Plankey, older than Martin, with roots interwoven into the rock layers

Heavy metal resiliant flowers

Riparian flora which is tolerant of heavy metal pollutants the Mountain Pansy - Viola lutea is in abundance this year


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