Views From The Silurian Sea


I dare say the farm fields were neither so large nor so orderly when Africa explorer, ‘Livingstone-I-presume’, Henry Morton Stanley  looked out on this Shropshire landscape. For looked at it he would have when he came as a guest to The Abbey home of the Milnes-Gaskells of Much Wenlock. Stanley’s hosts were enthusiastic tour guides and brought all their visitors to Wenlock Edge to admire the view.

Those of you who come here often will know that Wenlock Edge is an 18-mile  limestone ridge that runs across southern Shropshire. It is very much a local landmark, and its geology is of international scientific interest. The Edge as we know it now was formed by the uptilt of fossilized strata that were once the bed of the Silurian Sea.

Some 400 million years ago, this shallow tropical sea, that pre-dated even the advent of fish, and long before terrestrial life had evolved, once lay off East Africa near today’s Comoros Islands. You can find out more about it in an earlier post: Old Stones of Wenlock: Repurposing the Silurian Sea

On Sunday I posted an African landscape. Today is my ‘Out of Africa’ landscape, both of itself (because this chunk of Britain once lay in African waters), and on account of the photographer (that would be me) who has yet to get over leaving that continent.

But it goes to show how landscape intimately affects who we are, both physically and spiritually. It feeds our imagination, and shapes the lives we lead in a multitude of ways. Its resources  may provide the basis for our livelihoods, and will have shaped communities and culture over countless generations before us. If we fail to value it, we will ultimately lose the best of ourselves, our true heritage. In Shropshire we owe great thanks to the National Trust and Shropshire Hills Area Of Outstanding Beauty, organizations that strive to creatively engage and reconnect people with the earth beneath their feet, and the natural beauty around them. More power to their purpose.

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell


Day 7 of my Nature Photo Challenge shots. Thanks once more to Anna at Una Vista di San Fermo who started me off on this jaunt.

And view 2 in the Daily Post weekly photo challenge: Landscape

36 thoughts on “Views From The Silurian Sea

  1. So, basically what you’re sort of alluding to, kind of saying type of thing in a round about sorta way is the earth is not 6000 years old? Am I on the right track?
    Lovely post.

    1. I guess that’s what I’m saying, Ark :). Last week on the Beeb, Jim Al-Kalili was saying numbers like 13 point 8 billion years. My head does not entertain quantities of this sort, so will settle for earth being very very very old…

      1. Old it most certainly is.
        I think this is why some people struggle to accept evolution. The numbers in terms of time just make one’s head spin.
        Makes a couple of thousand years seem almost meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

  2. great minds eh with our turning to the landscape. Can barely envisage the shift in and within continent – like astrology, palaeontology requires a leaf of imagination. Your home-is-where-the-heart-is sickness never really goes away but recompense here in such a view (is it too tame for you I wonder?!)

  3. Oh, Geology. I’d forgotten that passion in the flurry of translocation. You give me the itches for it again with your lovely writing about it (and displacement.) There’s a geology course at Kraków university, but that’d be in Polish. Two monumental areas of study!!

  4. What an amazing landscape, Tish! I love trying to imagine what places may have been like many millions of years ago, but of course it’s very mind-boggling. So intriguing though. 🙂

  5. Interesting Tish, to me that scene is the typical iconic English country side, a patchwork of shades of green bordered by hedges and stone walls, then you casually drop in the fact that once, in a time long, long ago it was rubbing shoulders with East Africa!!!

    1. The wonders of tectonics and evolution, it’s just breathtaking, isn’t it. Actually, you’ve made me think. Parts of the Kenya highlands do look remarkably like parts of Scotland and Wales.

  6. I am so fascinated by this story about the Silurian Sea! And I don’t think we’ll ever truly come over leaving the African continent.

    1. There’s a nice Kenya produced magazine I came across recently. You can subscribe on line – called Old Africa. There are quite a lot of reminiscing accounts on the letters page. This month there was one from a man who’s been living in Canada for years, but his childhood was spent in Kenya. He said something like – I may be out of Africa, but Africa isn’t out of me. I thought, I know what you mean. Some residual genetic memory that’s activated when we first go there perhaps – the Rift where we evolved?

  7. Beautiful piece! I love how your blog is so differently set out. It is one of the stand outs from many that i have come across, Instant follower of you now, cheers! 🙂

  8. Great image, Tish (is this a view from the Edge – if so are we looking at Welsh hills/mountains in the distance, or is that the Edge taken from somewhere else?? Love your narrative and the mind-boggling numbers

      1. Well, years ago I went up on the Edge, a dull grey day so I had no idea there were such stunning views!!

      2. Best seen in the winter, which was when this photo was taken. You have to search for viewpoints between the trees, but when you find them – yes, terrific vistas. It usually involves a lot of scrambling through mud, even when it hasn’t been raining. I think it’s a case of the Silurian Sea trying to revert to its original form 🙂

  9. Oh, and I was very taken with the comment “if we fail to value it [the landscape] we will ultimately lose the best of ourselves”

  10. It’s a lovely landscape, Tish, and we are unbelievably lucky to live in a country that can afford to support the National Trust and others who preserve our heritage. 🙂

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