There is much to be understood from our natural landscape. The climate, vegetation
and geology have formed the county.
Glaciation has perhaps had the most significant effect on the
natural landscape. Shropshire was subjected to repeated glaciation during
the course of its history. During the last Ice Age, ice sheets up to 300
metres thick in places covered the county until about 20,000 years ago.
Shown here are the hills of the Long Mynd where melt-waters from
glaciers have carved out a
series of valleys or batches. During the Ice Age the Long Mynd, which forms
a smooth topped plateau today, would have been just visible poking through
the ice sheet.
the ice sheets started to melt about 13,000 years ago large amounts of sand,
clay and gravel were left behind by the retreating glaciers. Around Ellesmere,
in the north of the county, hummocks and hillocks formed by dumped clay and
silt, give an unusual appearance to the area. Depressions filled with water
form small lakes or meres as shown here. Others silted up and became peat
bogs and marshes.
Even rivers have changed their course. The River Severn used to
flow north to join the Dee by Chester. This route was
blocked off during the last ice-age by glaciers creating a
vast lake known as Lake Lapworth. The lake eventually
overflowed at a point just south west of the Wrekin cutting a gorge
to create what is now the Ironbridge Gorge. It is the
Ironbridge Gorge, now a World Heritage site, that drained
lake Lapworth and redirected the River Severn to it's
Blocks of ice left behind by the glaciers occasionally became
covered by soil and debris. When the ice melted the land formed a treacherous water-filled
In 1986, near Condover, just south of Shrewsbury, gravel extraction uncovered a
group of mammoths which had fallen into just such a hole. They lay buried
here for 13,000 years. This image shows one of the juvenile mammoths struggling to
escape from the mud. This model forms part of an exhibition, along with the
bones of the adult and 3 juvenile mammoths, which are on display at the new
Resource Centre in Ludlow
is a photograph of the lower jaw, or mandible, of one of the mammoths. The
teeth of mammoths are very distinctive. They are composed of a set of thin enamel
plates that are cemented together. A mammoth has four teeth in its skull, one
on each side of the upper and lower jaws. Six sets of teeth will grow over the
course of its life, a worn set being pushed forward and out to make room
for a new and unworn set. Once the sixth tooth is worn out the mammoth is nearing
the end of its life.
The movement of the glaciers and the deposits left by the melting
ice sheets would have obscured or removed any evidence of early humans, although
it is quite likely that they would have hunted the herds of reindeer and even
mammoths roaming the area.