Our geology collection includes minerals (minerology), fossils (palaeontology) and rocks (petrology).

Cumbria is one of the richest mining areas in Britain, and so we hold a significant minerals collection, including specimens from the world-renowned Caldbeck Fells. Among our 6,000 fossils, there is material collected by people such as Professor Robert Harkness and Lady Mabel Howard, as well as fossils representing the varied stratigraphy of Cumbria, including footprints, fish and reptiles.

Our minerals cover a range of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, including material from the Borrowdale and Skiddaw areas. Together, the collection tells the story of more than 5 million years of Cumbria's changing landscapes.

Minerals Collection

The Local Minerals collection is of considerable quality, and contains some 2,000 specimens. This reflects the fact that Cumbria is one of the richest mining areas in Britain. In particular, the Caldbeck Fells near Carlisle are renowned world-wide for their mineral wealth and have produced some of the finest mineral specimens ever found.

The Museum collection holds a good range of Caldbeck, Pennine and West Cumbrian minerals, and many of these are of superb quality. Many of the minerals were collected during the last century and most of the mines are now closed.

Additions to the collection continue to be made through the gifts of local amateur and professional mineralogists. Important recent acquisitions include the J.D. Ingham collection.

In addition, the museum houses a collection of around 1,000 examples of foreign minerals.

Fossil Collection

The fossil collection of around 6,000 specimens includes "Type" and "Figured" material. The collection contains material from the Professor Robert Harkness Collection. Other collections are those of Alexander Colvin, Lady Mabel Howard and M.H. Donald (including Jane Longstaff, née Donald).

The fossil collection derives from a wide stratigraphic range of rocks from the Cambrian to Pleistocene. Most specimens are from the British Isles. The stratigraphy of Cumbria is well illustrated and includes fossils from one of the few Cumbrian exposures of the Lower Lias, near Carlisle.

The bulk of the collection consists of Invertebrates and most groups are well represented. Vertebrate material includes fossil fish, reptile remains and footprints of Permian reptiles from the sandstones of the Eden Valley. Several of these footprints have been described and figured in publications on the geology of the area. Plant fossils are mainly from the Upper Carboniferous Coal Measures of West Cumbria with some specimens from the Permian A-bed of the Eden Shales (Hilton Plant Beds) near Appleby.

Rock Collection

The rock collection of just over 1,000 specimens contains a comprehensive range of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.

The collection contains a good range of the many different types of rocks found in the Lake District. These include samples of Ordovician rocks from the Skiddaw, Eycott and Borrowdale Groups. Some of the material from Carrock Fell and the Skiddaw area was collected by the well known Lake District geologist, Clifton Ward. The collection also contains material from the Pennines, the Solway Basin and Southern Scotland.