It Seemed Like A Small Treasure


There it was lying among the chaff and wheat stalks, a small fossil brachiopod, the size of my thumbnail, both shells of the bivalve quite intact, but washed free of its sedimentary matrix, to be found by me as I wandered about in Townsend Meadow after the harvest.  I was out in the field, relishing the new views, seeing the town from fresh angles as I climbed the hill, and much like Monet with his many haystack renditions, as I went, snapping multiple views of the large straw bales. With the morning sun on them they looked like some rustic art installation.

I saw the fossil from the corner of my eye and instantly switched to archaeologist mode, at first hoping it might be a Roman coin. It was a similar size and pewtery dullness to the ones I’d uncovered at nearby Wroxeter Roman City when I was digging there aeons ago. But no. It is a washed up remnant from the Silurian Sea, the 400 million-year shallow ocean, whose bed in more recent eras thrust upwards to form Wenlock Edge.

But that’s not all that is marvellous. Before the upthrusting, back in the oceanic days when this little mollusc was still busy sifting warm currents to find its lunch, the land beneath my feet was lying south of the Equator, somewhere near the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. It takes one’s breath away: Shropshire to the Comoros. Is all too hard to grasp. Too much time, too much planetary expanse for the mind to girdle. I mean how could the world’s parts have done so much monumental shunting about? And we humans with all our technology think ourselves masters of the globe. Silly, silly us.

Anyway, I brought the little fossil home, and it sits on my desk. It feels like a touchstone, an omen, a talisman. What meaning might I take from it? This 400 million-year-old mollusc found by chance among the chaff and sawn-off stalks after the wheat harvest.

copyright 2019 Tish Farrell



52 thoughts on “It Seemed Like A Small Treasure

  1. If I had brought this home the remark would most surely have been made: ”Look, two fossils! ”

    A special find indeed. Noah probably dropped it overboard by mistake. 😉

  2. As a student of geology, I appreciate the significance of such a find, however small. It truly is fascinating to think how the continents have moved, and landscapes have transformed over geological time. Fossils give your perspective.

  3. And the continents are still drifting as we speak. The Pacific is getting narrower, the Atlantic is splitting it’s seams and getting wider, Australia is drifting north, Eurasia is splitting vertically .. and in another 200 million years or so, there’ll be a new ‘super continent’ on one side of the planet and a ginormous ocean on the other.
    I wonder what sort of fossils from our anthropocentric era will be there for our long-distant descendants to find? 😀

  4. I love this, Tish. A wonderful discovery and your images are marvelous. This quote resonates with me: “And we humans with all our technology think ourselves masters of the globe. Silly, silly us.”

    1. Am just wondering how much we really do KNOW about the planet, and how much we THINK we know. And all the monumental phases it has been through – the tectonic bashing and crashing and erupting it has done; the serial Ice Ages and the subsequent almost unimaginable carving up of the landscape that resulted during the great melt. And then there’s the rest of the universe to consider and its effects on us… (too big a think for a Saturday morning)

  5. My mind is still strumming from the comment about finding Roman coins. REALLY?!!! Holy Historical Wonders!

    However I’m also in awe that you knew what it was. I admit I likely wouldn’t have given it a second glance. My loss 😕

    btw – LOVE the last photo. There is just something about hay stacks in a field.

    1. So happy to find another haystack lover 🙂 As to ancient finds, you never do know what you might find around farm fields in the UK. Mostly it’s bits of clay pipe from the last hundred or so years. But I did find a 1725 halfpenny outside my old shed on the allotment. That was a thrill. It was scarcely even buried. The worms must’ve pushed it up. Mole hills are another good place to poke about!!!

  6. How incredible – because of what it is and because you came across it. Also (as others have said) that you knew what it was. The fossil is in such interesting contrast to the industrially sized and shaped hay bale.

  7. It’s a wonderful find, Tish! Though I do get your initial excitement and hope that it was a Roman coin, having studied classical archeology myself. 😉

    1. A Roman coin would have been a very exciting find, Sarah. There certainly was some settlement in Wenlock – possibly a villa near the Priory. Also some Roman graves were found when there was work being done on one of the town streets. And Wroxeter Roman City is only a few miles away, below Wenlock Edge. It’s intriguing living in all these layers of time.

      1. How very fascinating to live in a place where once Romans settled! They never made it to Berlin obviously but I did some digging in the area of Trier (southwest of Germany) and it was just amazing! 😀

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