Feb 12, 2009

NEW: Cambridge Geology Trail

Discover geology…around Cambridge city centre
Category: 2009
Posted by: admin

Now you can! The Cambridge Geology Trail will help you to do just that. This new self-guided walk around the historic city centre will introduce you to just a few of the many different rock types, fossils, minerals and geological features that are waiting to be discovered in the walls, roofs and pavements of Cambridge

The development of the trail has been a collaborative project led by Annette Shelford, Museum Education Officer at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. It has been funded by MLA Renaissance East of England and the Friends of the Sedgwick Museum. Annette said "The walls and pavements of Cambridge are crammed with fascinating rocks and fossils from all over the world. To a geologist, every rock or fossil tells a story, providing a snapshot of a time or event in the Earth's long history. How could we get people looking and thinking about the geological stories that are directly under our feet and on every street corner? That's where the trail has grown from."

SamSam Simic talks to a museum visitor about how to identify different grains in the limestone steps outside Sedgwick Museum

The trail is based on a building stones walk compiled by Dr. Nigel Woodcock from the Department of Earth Sciences. His aim was to introduce first year undergraduate students to looking at geology out of the classroom.

Much of the work required to update the older trail was carried out by volunteers Sorcha McMahon and Samantha Simic who worked with museum staff, Nigel Woodcock and other geologists from the Department of Earth Sciences to research, write and evaluate the trail. Both were recent geology graduates who were the winners of the Friends of the Sedgwick Museum Education Prize, a one-month voluntary work placement in the Sedgwick Museum to gain experience in museum interpretation and science communication.

The trail has been tested and commented on by museum visitors, members of the Friends of the Sedgwick Museum, A-level geology students from London, and staff and students in the Department of Earth Sciences. The project has also been supported by the Cambridge Association of Tour Guides and British Geological Survey. Annette said "Somebody who tried out the trail said afterwards that they would never look at the city in the same way again! We hope that this will encourage many more people to think about the geology in the buildings around them."

The trail can be purchased from the Sedgwick Museum Shop.



Monday to Friday
10:00 to 13:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

10:00 to 16:00 


This week we reached a major landmark in the development of the Museum’s new Collections Research Centre. We’ve just been handed the keys to the brand new Colin Forbes Building, a purpose-built collections store to house our internationally important rock and fossil collections.  We now start the ambitious task of moving our rock collection – weighing more than 150 tonnes – from a variety of locations across Cambridge.  Bringing our collections together, and creating a space where we can welcome research visitors enables us to take a big step towards our aim of creating a world-leading centre for Earth Sciences collections research.

This summer, young visitors to some of our UCM museums have the opportunity to participate in an exciting artist-led treasure hunt. Hidden Tales: the Riddle of the White Sphinx, created by Mark Wells and Sorrel May, and illustrated by Jennifer Bell encourages families to explore our museums in a different way... Author Mark Wells tells all here.

Fifty years ago, Cambridge mineralogist, Dr Stuart Agrell was given VIP treatment and a police escort after flying into Heathrow from the USA because he was carrying a bag full of very precious rock material. The samples were amongst the most expensive ever collected as they had been retrieved from the moon by two of the American Apollo 11 mission astronauts. The programme of their investigation was a remarkable and unprecedented example of international scientific collaboration, which still continues.

Stuart Agrell on the underground with a carpet bag of rocks from the Apollo 11 missionGuess what I’ve got in my bag? 50 years ago, Cambridge mineralogist, Stuart Agrell nonchalantly carried some of the most valuable rocks ever collected back to Cambridge in his holdall. (© Mirrorpix, reproduced with permission)

Sedgwick Museum Collections Store

Find out more

Support this project

If you would like to discuss how you might contribute to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store, please contact Professor Simon Redfern, Head of Department.

To make a donation to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store please visit our online giving page.


'Tools of the Trade'
Available to purchase in the Sedgwick Museum shop

Tools of the Trade

Agostino Scilla's
'Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense'
English translation available to download.

Agostino Scilla download

Studying Earth Sciences at Cambridge University

Did you know?
The University of Cambridge is listed at the top of The Complete University's Guide 2016 for geology.

Discover more about studying Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in this video featuring Museum Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology Professor Marian Holness and Sir David Attenborough