The hill known as the Ripple Beds are Dudley's very own beach!
This hill was once the bottom of the Silurian sea that stretched across the entire area, 428 million years ago. It provides a snapshot in time taking us back to a world very different to our own.
The lumps and bumps on the surface are actually underwater ripple marks, similar to the ones you find on the beach today when the tide has gone out. They formed as a result of massive storms sweeping across . The normally calm tropical sea was turned into a heaving mass of towering waves crashing into each other, disturbing the sea bed. The waves caused by the storm penetrated down much further than normal, to storm-wave base (approx. 30m deep), picking up the sand and moving it back and forth to create symmetrical ripple marks.
Once the storm was over, calm was restored. The sea bed was now protected from the waves as they could not penetrate deep enough to destroy these delicate structures. This rippled surface provided an ideal surface for crinoids (sea lilies) to attach themselves to and live on. At some point after, maybe months even years, a large amount of mud was washed into the area, burying the crinoids and the ripples they were attached to, preserving them forever.
25 individual ripple bed layers have been identified in this cliff, each representing a separate storm event.
Fast forward a few million years and the continent upon which the Dudley area was part of ,was being subjected to mighty forces. Continents collided with other continents creating vast mountain chains as a result, this sea bed was forced upwards and creased into folds. Erosion over the millennia exposed the rocks at the surface and when
When the industrial revolution started, local people realising the value of the limestone for both agriculture and industry began extensive quarrying and mining all over Wren’s Nest. This is what exposed the Ripple Beds, which people enjoy today.
Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, The Archives and Local History Centre, Tipton Road, Dudley DY1 4SQ
Telephone 01384 815460