Monday, 3 October 2011

Fossils and Wine in A Courtyard

An unlikely combination brought about by a very hot day, a search for some Olympic history and a close encounter of the paleontological kind.

We went to hunt for The Raven Hotel in Much Wenlock, the scene of meetings between William Penny Brookes who started the Much Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850 and Baron Pierre de Coubertain who is often credited with the modern revival of the Olympic Games.

It was hot, we were thirsty and the rather smart hotel didn’t really take in passing trade for drinks.  The Manager (owner?) kindly offered to serve us in the courtyard and out we went into the shade.


A couple walked through, obviously going to their room and my eye was caught by a large piece of rock in the man’s hand.  Well, you know me!  I’ll talk to anyone – after all, the worst they can do is ignore me.  So I called out “that looks like an interesting piece of rock.”

It certainly was and the three of us spent some time in discussions of ‘fossils we have known’.  Our new friend’s wife disappeared very quickly so I assume she was not so interested!

Brachiopod in mudstone

The rock was mudstone and absolutely filled with brachiopods from 400 million years ago when a warm sea covered the area around Wenlock Edge. A geology hammer were wielded and we were presented with a section of the rock.

The Manager looked on mystified at the antics but then became enthused when he discovered why we were visiting. He had a lot of information on the history of the Much Wenlock Games and we spent a fascinating half hour looking at pictures and mementoes.

Wenlock, one of the two mascots, is named after the village because of the history.  If you think Wenlock and Mandeville are a little weird, you are not alone.  Have a look at this site and be sure to scroll down to previous mascots.  Perhaps ours aren’t so way out after all.

By the way, the wine was excellent.

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