The Fossil Grove, Victoria Park, Whiteinch
If I had been around a few Hundreds or so million years ago I would be telling you about the delights of living in a vast tropical forest. No doubt I would also be warning you to keep your eyes peeled in case you stumble across the 2-metre long centipede-like animals that roamed around the area at the time ( called Arthropleura). (The weather forecast might have been a bit different then – Scotland was situated on the Equator at the time – so the rain was probably a bit warmer!)
Today you can still see the fossilized remains of those ancient forests by visiting the Fossil Grove which is located within Glasgow’s Victoria Park. (Victoria Park is in the the Whiteinch area of the city – just a bit more West of the traditional West End.)
In 1887 while workmen where landscaping an old quarry within the grounds of the then new Victoria Park they discovered the beautifully preserved fossil tree trunks lurking within the sand and shale . Subsequent excavation revealed eleven tree trunks complete with expansive root systems covering an area of about 23 metres by 10 metres.
The tree trunks still lie where they where found, and ancient grove of trees protected from the elements by a specially constructed building. This building also acts as a visitor centre allowing viewing of the fossils. I remember as a kid being taken to visit the Fossil grove to marvel at these unfathomably ancient monuments. I am sure I must have been amazed at the idea of them being so old – I still am if I think about it.
It is of interest to note that the fossil grove is not the only place that fossil tree trunks have been discovered – althought no others have been quite so impressive or left ‘in-situ’. In 1868 a small group of fossilised trees was uncovered at Gilmorehill – just a few hundred yards away from where I am sitting now writing this – in the heart of the West End. They where discovered during the quarrying for the Glasgow University building but sebsequent quarrying unfortunately destroyed the fossils.
Information for this page was obtained from Alastair Gunnings great little book ‘The Fossil Grove’ published by Glasgow Museums.
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