The Fossil Grove, situated in Victoria Park, Glasgow contains tree stumps that are the remains of an ancient forest, from around 330 million years old. Fossil Grove is one of the most famous in-situ Carboniferous forest examples in the world.
The fossilised tree stumps were discovered in 1887 when an old quarry was being landscaped as part of the work during the creation of the park, and the fossil trees were uncovered by removal of the surrounding rocks. Careful excavation of the site uncovered the fossil remains, and a building was erected to protect them from the elements. Today at the Fossil Grove, you will see a small corner of a vast ancient forest, preserved in stone.
The most obvious feature of the site is the 11 fossil tree stumps, some of them up to 90 centimetres high. They are preserved in the position in which they once grew. A fallen trunk, about eight metres long, and other smaller fragments of branch and root, have also survived. They are the fossil remains of an extinct type of plant known as a giant clubmoss (Lepidodendron).
When these trees were alive, Glasgow’s climate was hot, damp and steamy. The trees grew in a tropical swamp similar to today’s Florida Everglades. After the clubmoss trees died, their interiors rotted, leaving them hollow. Gradually sand and mud carried by huge rivers buried the tree stumps and the sediment around then completely enclosed them, eventually turning into sandstone. Millions of years later, molten lava from volcanoes was forced between these sandstone layers. The lava cooled and formed whinstone, and this hard rock layer protected the fossil trees from erosion.
In addition to the importance of the fossilised stumps, the building itself is important because not only is the Fossil grove one of the world’s oldest examples of conservation of a geological site, it was the first to be preserved by a building. A viewing balcony overlooks the fossils, and small displays provide information and interpret the site for visitors.
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