The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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home > Transactions > Volume 19 - 2013 > Rocks and Geology: The Welsh Connection

Rocks and Geology: The Welsh Connection

There are two main themes to this article: rst, the Welsh in uence on the science of geology and, second, the geological history over the last 550 million years that resulted in Wales being where it is today.

Throughout the world, all rocks older than 550 million years are termed Pre- Cambrian. ‘Cambria’ is the ancient Roman name for Wales so all rocks from the origin of the planet over 4 billion years ago to 550 million years ago are ‘Pre-Wales’. The rst three geological periods in which abundant fossils are found also have a Welsh connection. These are, from oldest to youngest, Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian, the last two being names of ancient tribes that lived in what we know today as Wales.

Why the Welsh connection? The science of geology started in Britain, and the rst eminent geologists studied rocks in mid and north Wales to unravel the sequences of rocks covering the period from 550 million years to around 400 million years. They decided to give the formations names with a Welsh connection. These names have been used ever since by every geologist in every country. Globally, over 90% of the geological stages in the history of the Earth are named after Wales or Welsh tribes.

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