The story of Stuffynwood and Pleasley Vale would not be complete without a look at the geology and how this fascinating landscape was formed. So lets go back 300 million years!
Europe was situated near the Equator where tropical seas would
rise and fall over a period of 20 million years. Each time the seas receded,
deposits of mud would be left to bake hard in the sun. The rich vegetation that
had grown in the shallow swamps was compressed by overlying weight and the heat
chemically changed it into coal. Nottinghamshire has some of the deepest mines
in the country because the seams of coal are up to 900 meters deep. Marine life
in the shallow tropical seas also contributed to the sediment composition leaving
behind deposits of calcium carbonate.
280 million years ago Britain was squeezed from either side causing the middle to rise under the pressure. Iron & magnesium oxide rich lava from the Earth’s core flowed into rock fissures created by the buckling pressures. This event created the Derbyshire Pennines leaving it above sea level and exposed to wind erosion. Just across the border of the River Meden in Nottinghamshire and the lower lying area of Mansfield, the story is completely different but no less interesting. After the creation of the Pennines, the squeezing pressure relaxed, the land subsiding below sea level where the sediment deposit cycle began again but this time the rivers flowing from higher ground to the sea around Mansfield/Woodhouse, contained wind eroded iron, copper & magnesium oxides. The result of this was sediment rich in elements that when combined with sand & calcium carbonate from the skeletal remains of sea creatures, created colourful, hard wearing building stone that Victorian architects made good use of in our grand public buildings, including Westminster Palace, the paving in Trafalgar Square, Southwell Minster and Stuffynwood Hall no less.
This cycle continued, creating layer upon layer of magnesium rich limestone, which on higher ground Derbyshire side of the Meden, is exposed on the surface. Pleasley Vale, part of the Meden Valley, has been carved out by fast flowing rivers of ice-age melt water exposing the limestone illustrated in the photo below.
|Here, on the Stuffynwood Estate by the Meden, the layers of sediment deposits are clearly seen. The layers that appear to have been pushed upwards are sand dunes caused by the action of waves.|
Here in the old Vale quarry along Littlewood Lane, a few hundred yards from the Meden, we can see the sedimentary layers in this vertical wall. The blue/green pigmented standing water at the bottom is copper carbonate leaching from the rock - copper is another metal that was pumped into the Pennines 280 million years ago. The black staining is probably the result of copper oxide decomposing & turning black through heat during shot blasting. Copper carbonate was used in old farm ponds to clear algae, however, nothing can live in this old quarry pond as its poisonous to wildlife. It was also used as pigment in artist's paints.