Geology of Herefordshire & Worcestershire

The counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire expose rocks which represent almost 700 million years of Earth History

The solid (or bedrock) geology of Herefordshire and Worcestershire covers a significant amount of geological time (see Geological timescale below) from the Precambrian gneiss and schists of the Malvern hills through to the Jurassic limestones in the Broadway area (SE Worcestershire). As shown on the map below, the geology of the individuals counties differ. Worcestershire is dominated by the sandstones and mudstones of the Mercia Mudstone Group that underlie the Severn Vale. Herefordshire, on the other hand, is dominated by the Devonian Old Red sandstones. This difference has a significant impact on the landscape of the two counties. The River Severn valley covers much of the county and is surrounded by low, rolling hills, including the Malvern Hills. Herefordshire is characterised by more upland topography including the Bromyard downs area and the eastern edge of the Black Mountains, in the west of the county.

The superficial (Quaternary) geology in the region is also rich and varied, including extensive glacial and  peri-glacial deposits and land features, diversion of major rivers and a renowned system of river terraces.

Our geological history

The rich variety of rocks in the two counties have provided many clues to the geological history of southern Britain. Combined with evidence from Britain and the wider world these clues let us piece together a multi-million year travelogue of this small corner of the world.

Click here for “Journey from the South Pole: a brief Geological History of Herefordshire and Worcestershire”.
Read as pdf.

Geology explained, with an emphasis on rocks used for aggregates and sites where they can be found

Many rocks and recent deposits in the two counties are and have been an important source of aggregates, and in 2011 a substantial programme of work was funded by Natural England through Defra’s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. The results of this work can be found under the separate headings of Herefordshire geology and Worcestershire geology via the links below.

For each of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, you will find a table (Stratigraphic Column) that names all of the geological time periods represented in the county and in each case, the rock formations that can be found.

For each formation that is or has been used for aggregate, there is a link to a detailed description of the formation and how it is formed, with further links to descriptions of sites where this formation can be found.

Geology map overlain on topography of Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
Scroll down for the Key to the colours.



The major divisions of geological time

Note: Diagram is not scaled to time

Geological Time Scale
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