Awkward Earth Talk on Sat 12 August

On Saturday 12th August Gerry Calderbank will be giving a talk at Bewdley Museum. He’ll talk about how the surveyor’s levelling practice and technology has developed from Ancient Rome to the present day – thereby giving rise to the metric system en route.


We asked Gerry to say a little more about it.

“In the 1960s Herefordshire had no ‘County Archaeologists’ nor support structure; instead, there was reliance upon various local museum, university and/or WEA staff et al. for dealing with the rescue digs – people like the late Frank Noble and Stan Stanford for example. So digs tended to be in their own spare time (weekends and vacations) and relied upon lots of volunteers such as ourselves in he W.A.R.S.  – plus the Archenfield Archaeology Group, of course.


Consequently, there was never much time for anything much more than the digging and tidying up afterwards. I mostly assisted Stan Stanford – on mainly Iron Age and Romano-British sites (the various hillforts such as Croft and Midsummer Hill, or our three Leintwardine rescue digs spring to mind) plus a couple of Neolithic sites and the Bronze Age urnfield at Bromfield, etc., etc.


Stan was always pushed for time and, instead of booking his levels in a conventional way (Surveyor’s Notebook) Stan scribbled all the data on his field sheets as we worked (Sopwith staff foresight & backsight readings) and these were left for conversion during the long winter evenings.  He lived in Luston and I used to drive over on such evenings from Burford (Salop!) to help Stan and Yvonne with the conversions and any other jobs like like washing finds, etc. 


One such evening we took a break from the tedium and Stan remarked that there must be some more efficient way of doing things.  This set me thinking.  It was a pre-digital era of course – not even pocket calculators! – but I was familiar with certain engineering techniques and (from my work) with so-called ‘Modern Mathematics’ and I realised that the simple arithmetic we were doing (subtracting staff readings from the backsight data) was actually an “iterative process” in mathematical terms – and could therefore probably be mechanised in some way.


So, to cut a long story short, I invented and built a simple form of circular slide-rule (an analogue computer) which we then used on-site when levelling. It was  calibrated in Imperial measure and, when set up (“zeroed”), you could subtract the foresight readings instantly to the nearest tenth of a foot ASL (our normal Imperial usage). 


I always assumed that Stan would have ceased to use our  ‘Woolhope Scale’ when British archaeology metricated but, just a few years ago before his final illness, three of us were visiting the Stanfords (in Leinthall Earls) when Stan went upstairs and returned with the computer, asserting that he had no further use for it and insisted upon returning it to me . . . and I then saw that Stan had ‘metricated’ it sometime – by overwriting my lettering and numerals!”

You can book your place by calling 0845 6077819

Stunning Landscapes from Space


Stunning Landscapes from Space – how satellites see the Geopark.
This is an exhbition running at Bewdley Museum from Saturday 22 July – Sunday 24 Sept. Space satellites now provide exquisite photographic detail of the Earth’s surface. This exhibition shows your local landscape of hills, rivers and rocks as never seen before.
Entry is free and you can find out more about the museum at

Textile Demonstration – Bewdley Museum 23 July

On Sunday 23rd July Georgia Jacobs will be running a Geology/textile demonstration at Bewdley Museum to coincide with the launch of her Lines in the Landscape exhibition.
The demonstration is free and runs 12-3pm. The Lines in the Landscape textile project uses images of the
Earth from space, aerial photographs and landscape
photographs as sources of inspiration for art-based textiles
to display during Geofest 2017, along with workshops and
demonstrations for the visiting public.

Georgia will also be at Malvern Hills GeoCentre on 29 July and Cob House on 24 August (booking required 01886 888517).


Rock and Fossils Challenge

GG Fossils

On Monday 31st July & Saturday 5th August take up theRock & Fossils Challenge at Bewdley Museum.
Become a fossil hunter – find and identify hidden fossils. Bring in your own specimens for experts to identify. It runs 11am-3pm and is free.

Stunning Landscapes from Space - how satellites see the Geopark


An exhibition this summer at Bewdley Museum from 22nd July to 24th September

Space satellites now provide exquisite photographic detail of the Earth’s surface. This exhibition shows the local landscape of hills, rivers and rocks as never seen before. Above is a satellite image of the southern part of Britain using a technique known as ‘false colour’ to enhance the exposed rocks and highlight landscape features. Similar but more local photographs will feature in the exhibition. Satellite images and explanations are being provided by the Geological Remote Sensing Group and associated field scale photos and interpretations are being supplied by Geologists in the Geopark.

Bewdley Museum




Housed in a historic and unusual 18th century Butcher’s Shambles, this unique museum provides a fascinating insight into the growth and trades of the town, the lives of its people and the crafts of the surrounding Wyre Forest area. The varied displays are both undercover and open air, richly illustrated with artefacts, archive photographs and the work of basket and besom makers, charcoal burners, pewterers, brass founders and wheel-rights.   The museum offers a programme of changing exhibitions and events throughout the year that are publicised on the website and through an events leaflet.

A warm welcome awaits you from the resident crafts people, who can be seen at work in their studios including a textile artist, stained glass worker, cabinet maker and furniture restore/polisher. A variety of traditional crafts are brought to life daily through hands-on demonstrations. Unique and beautifully crafts gifts can be purchased from their studios or the museum gift shop.

Relax in the walled Herb Garden which features many medicinal, culinary and fragrant herbs as well as a working watermill and bee garden. A small wooded area demonstrates how naturally occuring plants and trees were used in traditional crafts.

Stroll through the gardens, where a restored medieval orchard, distinctive play sculptures and wildlife pond create a traditional yet contemporary atmosphere. Open air music events take place during August on a Sunday afternoon in the adjoining gardens which houses a splendid green theatre.


The museum offers a comprehensive resource for schools wide a wide range of cirricular activities.

Shambles Cafe

Indoor and outdoor seating in an attractive courtyard in the museum offering home-cooked refreshments using local ingredients

Geology and landscape

The Holding Pens

The Holding Pens

The rocks seen around Bewdley formed between 316 and 250 million years ago. These times equate to the older Carboniferous and younger Permo-Triassic Periods.

During Carboniferous times (359 – 299 million years ago) Britain was located close to the equator. Throughout this period the world’s continents were drifting together, forming an ever-increasing landmass. The earliest rocks from this period formed within an ancient ocean. As the continents continued to move closer together, this ocean disappeared and was replaced by tropical rainforests and giant swamps. Rivers brought material down from surrounding mountains and giant insects and ferns thrived. As these organisms died, their remains fell into the swamps, forming layer upon layer of organic material. Over time, these layers were squashed together, eventually forming coal seams. In between these seams, layers of mudstone and sandstone formed from sediment laid down by rivers. It is rocks from the latter terrestrial environment that can be seen and underlay parts of Bewdley Town.

Blackstone Rock, Bewdley

Blackstone Rock, Bewdley

During the 100 million years of Permo-Triassic times (299 to 199 million years ago),most of the world’s continents had joined together, forming a ’supercontinent‘ called Pangaea. Britain was located some 20° north of the equator, in the middle of this huge continent. Changing environmental conditions prevailed throughout these times; from ancient deserts to flat, arid landscapes covered in seasonal rivers and lakes. The presence of iron oxide in the rocks that formed during this time has resulted in them being predominantly red in colour and has led to the informal name ‘New Red Sandstone’. The distinctive colour of these New Red Sandstones can be seen in the River Cliffs around Bewdley and numerous road cuttings.

Along with the Bewdley ‘bedrock’, the ‘Building Stones’ of Bewdley’s buildings and structures tell a compelling story, one which is intrinsically linked to the history and transport history of the Town.

Explore the Geology and Landscape in and around Bewdley Museum

  • The Geopark Way long distance walking trail passes through Bewdley. Section 4 of the trail guide Kinlet to Bewdley and Section 5 Bewdley to Larford Lake. Trail guide available from Bewdley Tourist Infomation Centre housed in Bewdley Museum.
  • Sections 4 and 5 of the Geopark Way also available as Apps. The app has a map of the section overlain on an interactive geology map. Using GPS you get your position and a feed of data about the geology and other information as you walk. Other information’ includes photos of the walk with directional guidance, 3D cross-sections, and interpretations of past environments.Created by BrooksDesigns.

Explore the bedrock and superficial geology of the Severn Valley Country Park area on the British Geological Surveys ‘Geology of Britain Viewer’ – click here to be directed to their webpage

Facilities & attractions

  • The Bewdley Story – exhibit on the people of Bewdley
  • Rope Walk – traditional local craft exhibit
  • Air Raid Shleter
  • The Town Jails
  • Craft studios
  • Brass Foundary
  • Wyre Forest gallery and Saw Yard Galleries – both house temporary exhibitions
  • Access to Jubilee Gardens
  • Education programme for schools
  • A range of loan boxes for hire which support the National Curriculum
  • Wide range of workshops and activities for all ages, from taster sessions to full day workshops and courses
  • Half term and Summer holiday activities for children of all ages
  • Numerous events held throughout the year
  • Toilets
  • Baby changing  facilities
  • Disabled toilet
  • The Shambles Cafe:
    • Hot and cold drinks
    • Snacks
    • Lightbites and hot meals
    • Home cooked locally sourced produce
    • Homemade cakes and scones
    • Delicious icecreams
  • Museum accessible by wheelchair (with the exception of the air raid shelter)
  • Induction loop is fitted in the Education Room
  • Well behaved dogs kept on a lead are welcome

Opening times

Opning times Museum and Cafe 2015

Daily 11am – 3pm (2nd March to 27th March)

Daily 10am – 4.30pm (28th March to 1st November)

Thursday – Sunday 11am – 3pm (5th November to 20th December)

*Last admission 30 minutes before closing

Admission is FREE!

Bewdley Museum Photo Gallery

Contact details