A PROJECT giving an insight into north Worcestershire and south Birmingham during the Ice Age has been awarded £112,800 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust, the Black Country Geological Society, Birmingham Open Spaces Forum and the Lapworth Museum of Geology has been working on ‘Birmingham’s Erratic Boulders – Heritage of the Ice Age’ for the past 18 months.
The funding boost will enable the project to run until January 2023.
At the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of boulders moved by ice (erratics) were known in the area, mostly volcanic rocks from north Wales, but also including hard rock from Rowley Regis.
Now only four dozen survivors are known about, including clusters in Kings Norton, Bournville, Frankley, Romsley, Bromsgrove and Cotteridge and Selly Oak Parks, and a lone boulder in Cannon Hill Park.
Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust chair Ian Fairchild said: “100 years ago, the Birmingham public were excited to learn about these relics of the Ice Age, but the boulders have been disappearing.
“We’re delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, our partnership of local organisations has received this support to bring the boulders the prominence they deserve.”
The project aims to restore the large boulders, brought from the mountains of North Wales in the Ice Age, to their rightful place as a prominent feature of Birmingham’s natural heritage and it is hoped they will become a source of local pride.
The organisations running the project are responsible for maintaining the knowledge of landscape features and geology in the region and promoting the use of public open spaces.
A special local group will be set up in New Frankley to design a geological time line along the centre of the district running from 450million years ago, when the volcanic rocks formed in what is now Wales, to 450,000 years ago, when the ice moved them to Birmingham.
One of the project aims is to engage the public in finding some of the boulders that have been lost and discovering some geology in the process, for example by coming to see displays and a concluding exhibition at the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham.
The Lapworth will also be hosting many school groups, including those with boulders within walking distance.
The Earth Heritage Trust will co-ordinate the different parts of the project and will engage one or two part-time staff to lead the project as a whole and the work with volunteers.
Both the Earth Heritage Trust and the Black Country Geological Society will use their networks to bring in geologists to engage with the public and to help spread the word about the Ice Age heritage.
They will also decide on the best sites to be protected via local authority planning processes.
Resources from the Lapworth Museum of Geology, such as 3D printing, will be used as part of the project, for example to make replicas of fossils that represent different geological time periods.
The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust was set up 25 years ago to promote conservation of geology and landscape in the region.
It has designated many Regionally Important Geological Sites (now Local Geological Sites) and is active in site conservation through working parties and site champions.
In the last decade, mainly through a series of National Lottery Heritage-funded grants, sector-leading projects have been completed on site conservation strategies, building stones and app development.
In partnership with wildlife organisations, geology has been integrated with biological conservation practice.
The Trust provides professional geological expertise and advice and has a programme of geo-education and public engagement.
Visit www.earthheritagetrust.org to find out more.