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Geology of Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve

Wren's Nest is an area of nature reserve approximately 1 kilometre to the North East of Dudley Town Centre, West Midlands, England. It was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1956 on the basis of its exceptional geological and palaeontological features of Silurian age (dating to approximately 420 million years ago). This was the UK's first ever geological NNR.

The area was formerly quarried and underground mined for two thick layers of pure limestone. Quarrying and lime working ceased at the site in 1925 and the site was abandoned. Since this time much of the site has been re-vegetated naturally to create a green geological haven and recreational area enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike.

The old rock faces of the quarries provide a unique 'outdoor teaching facility' for field geology and geological research and a number of geological trails have been established at the 100-acre site since 1956. The site provides a definitive section through the Much Wenlock Limestone formation of Britain which are exceptionally rich in marine invertebrate fossils with a host of associated structural and sedimentological features to challenge students of all levels of knowledge.

The site also has a long and very important social history. This includes being the birthplace of Abraham Darby (the so-called father of the industrial revolution), important associations with visiting scientists such as Sir Roderick Murchison and his defining work 'The Silurian System' published in 1839 in which 65% of the Wenlock fossils illustrated were from Dudley, and limestone mining industries features of which including mine entrances occur on the site.

In addition to the geological features of the site, a special limestone fauna and flora has established itself at the site in the years since the mining and quarrying has ceased. This includes many species of plants, invertebrates and several species of bat over winter in the caverns.

To obtain details of the current waymarked geological trails, restrictions relating to visits and fossil collecting at the site or to obtain printed information please contact Dudley Museum and Art Gallery on 01384 815575. General leaflets are available from Libraries and the Tourism Office.

For further information please see our Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve webpages or for more specific enquiries about the Nature Reserve please contact the Warden service.

Did you know?

  • Wren's Nest was the birthplace of Abraham Darby, the father of the industrial revolution
  • Wren's Nest is nationally important for hibernating bats
  • You can find more than 700 types of fossil at the site
  • Wren's Nest supports many wild flowers that are otherwise rare or absent in the West Midlands