About the project
Grid Reference: SN 844 323
The British Institute for Geological Conservation received funds from the Aggregates Levy Fund Wales to purchase and develop Capel Horeb Quarry. This disused quarry, of late Ludlow and possibly lower Pridoli siltstones and sandstones, is located near Llandovery, Powys. The site has yielded very important discoveries of both plant and animal fossils and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Importance.
R.I. Murchison visited the quarry in 1834 and collected many new fossils. He used a number of new species of brachiopods and mussels collected from here when crystallising his ideas on the succession of rocks in this part of Wales. All this was incorporated in his seminal work ‘The Silurian System’ that was published in 1835. Since then a number of other workers have collected more invertebrate shells from here. The importance of these fossils is reviewed in the Geological Conservation Review volume No. 19 – The Silurian System of Great Britain by Aldridge et al 2002.
The quarry is also important for a number of exciting early land plant fossils with the first being described by Heared in 1939. Since then more plant fossils have been described by Edwards, Rogerson and Davies including Cooksonia hemisphaerica (illustrated L), which is the oldest plant with a vascular conducting system known from anywhere in the world. Cleal and Thomas 1995 have reviewed the importance of these plant fossils in the Geological Conservation Review volumes No. 9 – British Palaeozoic Palaeobotany.
Recently published research has reported finds of early Scorpion fragments from the Silurian siltstones that are exposed in Capel Horeb.
Dunlop, J.A. & Seldon, P.A. Scorpion fragments from the Silurian of Powys, Wales. Arachnology (2013) 16 (1), 27-32
Since purchasing Capel Hored BIGC has cleared the quarry face, removing vegetation and loose material making it accessible and safe for visitors.
The sites perimeter has been fenced and the quarry is gated to prevent vehicle access although it’s still possible access the quarry on foot.
We’re also in the process of designing and installing interpretation panels to help visitors understand the significance of the early plants discovered at this unique site.
It is intended that the quarry will be used to further the scientific and educational interests of geology, and geological conservation.
Two strips of woodland fringing the quarry were purchased at the same time as the quarry. They consist of oak, ash and mountain ash with a rich ground flora of many species of flowering plants, ferns and mosses. A wet copse of birch in the centre of the quarry includes boggy areas with horsetails and mosses. The rocks and quarry face also has a diverse covering of lichens and mosses. So whether you’re a geologist or a keen naturalist there’s lots to see a Capel Horeb.
About the site
Capel Horeb is a disused quarry situated just north of the A40 between Brecon and Llandovery. Access to the site is by prior arrangement with BIGC. For access and permission to visit please contact us at Bigcprojectmanager@gmail.com