The museum’s Geology collection includes minerals, rocks and fossils from East Anglia and further afield.
Objects of particular note include the mineral specimens from Sir John St. Aubyn, Dr. W. Babbington, George Stacey Gibson and J.E. Drew, collected from mines in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These include examples of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.
A particular strength of the fossil collection is the fossilised remains of animals from the Chalk and Red Crag seas that once covered East Anglia. There are local chalk and boulder clay fossils and remains of animals from the Ice Ages of the Pleistocene period. Most fossils date from the Caenozoic and Mesozoic eras of geological time. You will also find Ichthyosaur bones, marine reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs, and part of the fossilised stem of a giant horsetail fern.
Objects in our Geology collection are on display in the Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery. You can also see a glacial erratic boulder (or septarian nodule), weighing around 2 tons, on display in the museum grounds! Many more objects are kept in storage and can be viewed by appointment.
Here are digital copies of the gallery text labels:
Fossil mammoth tusk (SAFWM – 96:023)
Fossil tusk of a woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, found in Saffron Walden before 1882 (Current location: storage)
Fossil ammonite (SAFWM – 108331)
Fossil ammonite from a septarian nodule that is 150-200 million years old (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Pyromorphite (SAFWM – 1991.6.184)
Pyromorphite, a lead phosphate that occurs in the oxidised areas of lead veins in rocks (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Boulder (SAFWM – 1973.12)
Glacial erratic boulder (or septarian nodule), carried to Saffron Walden from the Midlands by the Anglian ice sheet about 450,000 years ago (Current location: Museum grounds)
Fossil moa thigh bone (SAFWM – 1871.12.2)
Fossil thigh bone from the leg of a moa, a family of extinct flightless birds from New Zealand (Current location: storage)
Calcite (SAFWM – 1991.6.258)
Calcite, a carbonate mineral composed of calcium carbonate (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Pterosaur cast (SAFWM – 1893.39.2)
Cast of the fossil skeleton of a pterosaur, Scaphognathus crassirostris, an extinct flying reptile (Current location: storage)
Fluorite (SAFWM – 1991.6.322)
Fluorite, a halide mineral consisting of atoms of a metal and a gas such as chlorine or fluorine (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Fossil shell (SAFWM – 1994.21.171)
Fossil shell of the bivalve mollusc, Aequipecten opercularis, from the cool Red Crag sea that covered most of Essex about 2 million years ago (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Meteorite (SAFWM – 1923.3)
Cast of the meteorite that fell at Ashdon, near Saffron Walden, on 9 March 1923 (Current location: Earth Beneath Our Feet gallery)
Azurite (SAFWM – 1962.115.5158)
Specimen of the mineral azurite with manganese hydroxide, collected in New South Wales, Australia (Current location: storage)
Ichthyosaur (SAFWM – 1995.7.5)
Fossil skeleton of a young ichthyosaur, an extinct marine reptile (Current location: storage)