Callow Hill Quarry

Etruria Formation

Callow Hill Quarry

Exposed Units: Etruria Formation

Alternative site names: Wyre Forest Visitors Centre Quarry

Access: Open to public

The Wyre Forest Visitors Centre Quarry is located on the southern border of the Wyre Forest, approximately ½ a kilometre to the NW of the Forestry Commission’s visitor centre. The quarry is small; 20m long, 15m wide and 5m high. There are two small exposures, both located on the eastern side of the quarry.

The rock exposures reveal two main rock types; coarse red sandstone and a red conglomerate belonging to the Etruria Formation. The lower beds are made of sandstone, which also contain iron nodules. The sandstone is overlain by alternating bands of sandstone and conglomerate. Within the south-east rock face, two of these conglomerate beds are separated by a palaeosol (a fossil soil) layer about 30cm thick, which also contains iron nodules. Sandstone overlies the conglomerate beds.

The conglomerates represent sheet flood deposits within an alluvial fan system. They were deposited by repeated flash floods, rivers, and mudflows, which eventually coalesced to form a fan-shaped deposit at the edge of the sedimentary basins in the area. These sequences of conglomerates are often separated by mudstones and palaeosols. The palaeosols formed during periods when the ground became swampy and waterlogged. The soil was then buried and underwent complete oxidation giving the beds their red colour. Siderite (iron carbonate) nodules and bedded ironstones present were oxidised to form the mineral haematite as a result of this burial.

The quarry was quarried for the conglomerates, as they would have been crushed and used as aggregate for local building work. The iron nodules may also have been used as a source of iron ore for the local iron industry.

This site is part of the Community Earth Heritage Champions Project.


Rock faces in the quarry.

Conglomeratic bed within the Etruria Formation.

Haematite nodules in the palaeosol layer.


Besly, B.M. and Turner, P. 1983. Origin of red beds in a moist tropical climate (Etruria Formation, Upper Carboniferous, UK). in WILSON, RCL (ED), ‘Residual deposits’, Spec Publ Geol Soc Lond, 11, pp. 131-147.

Brenchley, P.J. and Rawson, P.F. 2006. The Geology of England and Wales. The Geological Society. The Geological Society Publishing House, Bath.

Mitchell, G.H. et al. 1962. Geology of the country around Droitwich, Abberley and Kidderminster. British Geological Survey Memoir.

Tucker, M.E. 2001. Sedimentary Petrology (3rd Edition). Blackwell Scientific Publications.

Woodcock, N. and Strachan, R. 2000. Geological History of Britain and Ireland. Blackwell Scientific Publications.

March 2011

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