Gazing out over Fernilee Reservoir today, you might wonder what fish swim below its surface. There were also fish here around 320 million years ago – and their fossilised remains have been found in the local rocks.
The Goyt Valley lies in the Dark Peak, characterised by the presence of the ‘Millstone Grit’, a series of shales, siltstones and sandstones that were laid down by river deltas which were occasionally swallowed as sea levels rose and fell.
This particular specimen was part of the collection of Elizabeth Dale. Elizabeth was born in Warrington in 1868, educated at home by a governess and then spent some time at a private school in Buxton. During her time in Derbyshire she spent time collecting natural history specimens, including fossils as well as plants to turn into herbarium sheets. She studied for a time at Owens College, Manchester and then, from 1887 to 1891, studied Natural Sciences at Girton College, Cambridge. This was a time when women were still not awarded degrees or allowed to be university members. She went on to be a research worker at the Cambridge Botanical Laboratory, working mainly in plant pathology, and published at least 12 scientific papers. She also wrote The Scenery and Geology of the Peak District, first published in 1901.
You can find out more about Elizabeth Dale and her collections on Buxton Museum’s Collections in the Landscape blog