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Geological Collections

The most important collection at Dudley Museum is Geology. There are currently two galleries given over to the collection and the very important place that Dudley occupies in the story of the discovery of the science of Geology in the United Kingdom. Follow the links to Dudley UnEarthed and Fantastic Fossils for more information.

For some practical advice on collecting check out Geology - What We Collect & The Rules

View the Geology Collection Online

Geology Matters is a searchable website which allows users to find information about fossil, mineral and rock specimens held by the museums services within the Black Country and other related material held by the Black Country archive services.

History of the Collection

Originally established by the Dudley & Midland Geological Society on its inception in 1842, the geological collection passed into Dudley’s ownership in 1903. The present collection comprises approximately 15,000 fossil, rock and mineral specimens, the vast majority (9,500 specimens) amassed by the Society.  Approximately, 5,000 specimens have been added to the collection since the appointment of the first geology curator in 1987.

Despite its relatively small size the geological collection contains one of the finest assemblages of local material in existence, matched only by collections at the British Geological Survey, Natural History Museum, London and Birmingham Universities.  Its main strength is a definitive assemblage of 6,200 marine invertebrate fossils from local Silurian (Wenlock and Ludlow series) rocks, which includes 20 type and figured specimens. Of particular importance are the collections of superbly preserved corals, trilobites, crinoids and carpoids from the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation of Castle Hill and Wren’s Nest NNR, a site internationally renowned for the quality and quantity of its fossils.

The Dudley collection is the only one to include rare soft-tissued plant and annelid remains from Wren’s Nest Nature Reserve, together with provenanced echinoderms from important lagerstatten (life assemblage) horizons at the Reserve.  The geology collection also contains

  • A useful range of comparative material from other British and overseas sites.

  • A sizeable collection of flora and fauna from the Black Country Coal Measures, notably placoderm fish remains and insects, arachnids and crustacean preserved in ironstone nodules from Coseley.

  • An excellent working collection of rocks, minerals, vertebrate and invertebrate fossils from a wide range of British localities.

  • A geological archive of specialist and historic geological reference books, maps and periodicals, many acquired by the early societies

The present collection comprises approximately 12,000 fossil, rock and mineral specimens, the vast majority amassed by the two societies. Approximately 3,000 specimens have been added since the appointment of the first geology curator in 1987.

However, Dudley's collection is growing in quantity, quality and scientific integrity and as a result of the activities of local collectors & enthusiasts & is set to become the most important collection of these fossils in the world.

Its main strength is its definitive assemblage of ancient (circa 425 million years old) marine invertebrate fossils from the local Silurian (Wenlock and Ludlow) rocks, notably the superbly preserved corals, trilobites and crinoids from the Wenlock Limestone for which the area is world renowned. The local trilobite Calymeme Blumenbachii (the 'Dudley Bug') is so famous that it is considered by much of the international scientific community as the emblem of the town and used to occupy the very centre of Dudley's Coat of Arms. There is also a sizeable collection of flora and rare fauna (in particular rare insects and spiders) from the Black Country Coal Measures, notably in ironstone nodules from Coseley.

Most significantly the collection contains twenty type and figured specimens, which are priceless to science. In addition to these, three species that are new to science have been discovered in the collections in the last two years and there are likely to be others found as additional research on the collection occurs.

Borough Geology

The geology of the Borough has been internationally famous since the early years of the 19th century. The mine and quarries around the town, (and its fossil shops) were regularly visited by those workers who were founding the science of geology itself. This was because the local rocks yielded rare and beautifully preserved fossils, which allowed these geologists to unravel the story of life on earth. Dudley has a very special place in the history of scientific thought and a totally unique social history associated with it.

As a consequence of this scientific activity great interest grew among the local people and one of the earliest scientific societies was born. This society realised that the local rocks had something more fundamental to tell us about ourselves than the simple quest for wealth and they began to assemble a collection of the geological treasures of the borough.

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Fossil Selection - CALYMENE

Contact Details

  • Name Dudley Museum and Art Gallery
  • Address St James's Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HZ
  • Telephone 01384 815575
  • Fax 01384 815576
  • Opening Hours Monday to Saturday from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Open all year except for Bank Holidays including Good Friday and Easter Monday.