What Lies Beneath Us
Art Durham County Durham

What Lies Beneath Us

Art In Durham, County Durham

A large scale pavement map showing the geology of The British Isles.

I am sure we all have our favourite car parking places when we visit our cities and towns. Well, mine is parking by St. Oswalds in Durham City. It is close to the University Science Campus and the Bill Brydon Library where nearby you will find the informative What Lies Beneath Us geosculpture. I was pleased to capture these images on a freezing cold day for the great effect of frost outlining Blighty and Ireland.

It is the concept of Darren Gröcke with scientific guidance and explanation by Bob Holdsworth. Both are professors at Durham University.

It was created into a reality by John de Pauley a Dorset based stonemason/carver/sculptor.

Mr de Pauley designed and implemented this large-scale pavement art of the British Isles.

It is based on Britain's first geological map by William Smith produced in 1815 and The Department of Earth Science dug up plenty of information to help with this quest.

As much as possible the rocks, minerals, and fossils were procured from the area it depicts. Some rocks will be over 360 million years old. How many do you recognise?

It is important to mention William 'Strata' Smith (1769 to 1839) who took 15 years to map the geology of England, Wales and Southern Scotland which is an area of more than 67,568 square miles.

He gave his colourful map the comprehensive title:

A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with Part of Scotland; Exhibiting the Collieries and Mines, the Marshes and Fen Lands Originally Overflowed by the Sea, and the Varieties of Soil According to the Variations in the Substrata, Illustrated by the Most Descriptive Names.

23 different colours were used on his map, maybe suggesting 23 different rocks?

Mr Smith has been given the badge 'Founder of Stratigraphy.' Below on the left is his map courtesy of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Thames & Hudson. On the right is What Lies Beneath Us showing Southern Scotland and Northern England.

This is an informative artwork for the inquiring mind and budding geologist. So far I can name Granite in Scotland, Magnesian Limestone in County Durham, Slate in Wales, Flint in parts of East Anglia, Chalk from Dorset (running northeastwards) and my old home county of Essex is bedrock.

I was intrigued to know why the frost had given this sculpture such an outline and it has been suggested that the stones/rock and fossils have better heat absorbing capacity than the concrete paving around it.

It has been said there are fossils in this artwork. It was unveiled by Professor Iain Stewart after 18 months of creation in 2013. I guess those sitting upstairs on buses had a great perspective as the work progressed. Can you see where you live?

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How To Find What Lies Beneath Us

Where Is What Lies Beneath Us?

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54.768637, -1.573864

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Where To Park For What Lies Beneath Us?

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54.76985, 54.76985

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I tend to park outside St Oswalds Church on Church Street (metered and currently 30 pence per 30 minutes as of January 2024).

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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