On Sunday 3rd March 2019 we paid a return visit to Wren’s Nest, Dudley, Midlands. We had a great turnout for the day with 25 people in attendance, of all ages.
Wren’s Nest is a former Victorian Quarry, which provided building material and material for production of flux in the iron for industries in the Black Country. 20,000 tonnes of limestone was quarried annually until the quarry operations ceased in the 1920s, when it was abandoned. The “Nest” was England’s first National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 1953 and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the geology and fossils that can be found here. Wren’s Nest is famous for the Calymene blumenbachii trilobite, known as the Dudley Bug, and featured on the Dudley County Borough Council Coat of Arms until 1974. The site, however, is known for a wide variety of fossils, including trilobites, gastropods, brachiopods, corals and crinoids. In fact, over 700 different species of fossils can be found here, over 80 of which can be found nowhere else on earth. Wren’s Nest contains the most diverse and abundant fossil fauna found in the British Isles and the fossils are among the most perfectly preserved Silurian fossils in the world.
The site is composed of limestone from the Silurian Wenlock Group, which was deposited around 425 million years ago, when the area would have been a warm, shallow, tropical sea.
The SSSI designation means that the site is protected under UK law , and the Warden at Dudley Council was made aware of our visit as they are required to monitor the numbers of visitors and to protect the site from malicious damage. No tools are allowed on site so our hammers stayed safely at home this time! Unfortunately, several people have been caught in the past removing large amounts of material from the site, which is prohibited. Warnings aside, Wren’s Nest is still a fantastic place for fossil hunting as there is plenty of loose material on the ground in which to find fossils.
We had an initial briefing on the fossil code of conduct and health and safety, before passing around examples of the various kinds of that we could expect to find. The first few hours of hunting were spent at the reef mounds, before moving onto the fossil trench, from where we had a lovely view of the ripple beds.
UKAFH members found lots of fabulous fossils, including a bumper crop of trilobite cephalons (heads) and pydigiums (tails)!
Thank you to everyone who braved the persistent drizzle to come along! We hope you all had a great day with lots of fabulous finds!
A map of Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve and the fossil collecting code can be found here, courtesy of the Black Country Geological Society: