This particular specimen is from Tockholes, in Lancashire. I find this object fascinating. When you hear ‘fossil’ you think of dinosaurs and creatures preserved in the layering of sediment, not the preservation of landscapes. The ripples still feels like they are moving and it looks like you can see the blue of the ocean. I am transported to a topical lagoon, like modern day Mississippi, where a large delta gathers with gentle, shallow water currents. Hard to think of the Lancashire moors being like that today!
These ripples originate from a layer of rock commonly known as Millstone Grit, dating 320 to 315 million years old. It is part of the Haslingden Flag, an area that is of particular interest to geologists. These ripples were formed by slowly lapping shallow water in the delta bed and survived because they were then covered by a different type of sediment that preserved the shape. It is an amazing glimpse into an ancient landscape and tells us so much more than just fossils alone. Unlike fossilised creatures, ripples are something we all recognise and with which we can connect.
For more information on the geology and stone of this area see the Valley of Stone website.