This patch of churchyard at St. Edmunds, Castleton, is home to the grave of Elias Hall (1764 – 1853). Can you find the headstone nearby?
In Memory of Elias Hall, the geologist, who died on the 30th day of December 1853 aged 89 years. Born of parents in humble life and having a large family to provide for, yet he devoted himself to the study of geology for 70 years with powers of originality and industry rarely surpassed. To mark the last resting place of one who had worked so long and so hard for the public, a few of his friends and admirers living at a distance have placed this stone
Elias was born in Castleton. His marriage record names him as a “Petrifaction Worker” in Derby. Later he was variously described as fossilist, mineralist, geologist or surveyor in Castleton. He lived in a cottage in Cross Street, now the Greystones shop. Elias produced detailed geological models and strata maps, such as the one below, which is over 2m long when fully unfolded!
Elias’s work was influential on later writers and geologists. James Croston writing in On Foot through the Peak (1876) describes Hall as being the ‘father of geology in Derbyshire’, praising Hall for directing his attention to the subject of geology “at a time when geology, as a science, had made but little progress, and in this country was comparatively unknown”.
Hall was in contact with many other prominent geologists, not least geologist and marble worker, White Watson, who Elias was writing to from at least 1800.
You can discover more about Elias Hall in this article by Torrens and Ford: