The Earth Beneath Our Feet, Mezzanine, Great Hall
Examine rock types under magnifying glasses and meet the fossil creatures commonly found in Essex and Cambridgeshire, including marine fossils from the Chalk and Red Crag seas.
Among the exhibits you will find Ichthyosaur bones, marine reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs, and part of the fossilised stem of a giant horsetail fern.
Touch an ammonite that is 200 million years old!
Sparkling minerals show their crystalline structure, some fluoresce with different colours under ultra-violet light.
Mineral and Rock Collections
The mineral collection contains specimens from Sir John St. Aubyn, Dr W. Babbington, G.S. Gibson and J.E. Drew.
Many of the mines where these minerals were collected in the 18th and 19th centuries are now closed.
The rock collection has examples of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks, including an interesting collection of volcanic rocks.
This glacial erratic boulder, weighing about 2 tons, can be seen in the Museum grounds. It is a septarian nodule made of limestone and calcite that formed in the clay bed of seas that flooded Britain periodically during the Jurassic period 135 to 205 million years ago. The boulder was carried to Saffron Walden from east Yorkshire by the Anglian ice sheet about 500,000 years ago and was found during digging of the foundations of the former Acrow (Engineers) Ltd factory on Ashdon Road.
Fossil remains of animals from the Chalk and Red Crag seas that once covered East Anglia are the strengths of the fossil collection. It is particularly rich in Crag fossils from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, amassed into a collection by G.S. Gibson. There are local chalk and boulder clay fossils and remains of animals from the Ice Ages of the Pleistocene period. Most fossils date from the Caenozoic and Mesozoic eras of geological time.