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Glendale Local History Society commenced its new season's programme with an illustrated talk from local geologist Dr Ian Kille on Northumberland's geology and how it shaped history.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 09:00

The talk began by Dr Kille illustrating the relationship between archaeology, geology and the use of materials – clay, stone and metalliferous ores, the source of the materials being determined by the local geology.

The study of the use of materials illustrates the methods developed by previous civilisations, the transport routes used, and the interconnectivity of various societies.

The preservation of these materials in archaeology is governed by the medium in which they are preserved, which in itself is governed by the local geology.

The influence of geology on place and heritage can be clearly seen in the use of building materials in the everyday structures around us.

This was clearly illustrated by a discussion on Hadrian’s Wall and on the recent excavations on Lindisfarne.

The second part of the talk focused on the place of geology in history.

It provided an illustration of the development of the science from its early beginnings with James Hutton (often referred to as the Father Of Geology) and his studies along the Northumbrian Coast.

He was followed by William Smith, who produced the first geological map of England and Wales, and ultimately by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, which was supported in part by his study of the fossil record.

The final section of the talk looked at the bigger picture of the geology of Northumberland, specifically the Borderlands and its influence on historical events.

Some 400 to 500 million years ago, continental drift caused the collision of two continental plates.

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The Southern plate, named Avalonia, bearing what is now England, and the Northern plate, named Laurentia, bearing what is now Scotland, drifted together and collided over a long period of geological time.

This joining of the plates produced the Cheviot Hills and the Southern Uplands, and it explains the very different geology of England and Scotland.

The open moorland and hills, which are typical of this area, have been the scene of many conflicts between England and Scotland throughout history, and also of the Border Reivers.

The culture of this area has been determined by the influence of geology on both the history and topography of the border lands.

A specific example of the influence of geological structures on the landscape of the area around Flodden battlefield was discussed.

A fault line (break in the underlying rocks) along the base of Branxton Hill marks the boundary between the solid geology of the Cheviot lavas to the South and Carboniferous sedimentary rocks to the North.

It is also the junction between impervious boulder clay and pervious gravels from the last ice age.

The geology has produced a line of springs and boggy areas at the foot of the hill.

This boggy area was encountered by the Scottish army and the difficult ground conditions ultimately led to the defeat of the Scottish army.

The next meeting of the Glendale Local History Society will be on Wednesday, October 10, at 7.30pm, at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler, when Jonathan West will talk about Revealing The Secrets Of Northumberland’s Place Names.