by Yoland

It is impossible to walk through Ruyton without being constantly aware of the red sandstone, in fact the eastern end of the village is called the Brownhill —not exactly an original name when one sees the number of sandstone cottages, many now rendered, the sheer cliff of rock into which the War Memorial is carved and the old quarry where the builder of Red Rocks did not have a large bill for trans­portation of building materials.

This sandstone varies considerably in hardness dependent on the "cement" which holds the grains of sand together. Some of the cottages have stood for over 200 years and yet we have dug pieces out of our garden which fall apart as you pick them up. It is noticeable that many walls which are close to the road have started to erode in recent years due to chemical action by salt used on the roads in the winter. This "New" red sandstone was laid down 200 million years ago in the period geologists call Triassic when this part of Shropshire was an arid desert.

The sandstone then started to be laid down by gigantic rivers caused by flash floods. These rivers also brought with them stones and pebbles worn smooth and round by the action of the water. Each flood made a layer of sand sometimes millimetres and sometimes many feet thick. The weight of succeed­ing layers compacted the sand into stone over the next few million years.

 Then came the ice.  Look across the Brownhill valley and imagine the whole area covered in ice, what is now the flat valley between the Brownhill and the Drumbles was a great glacier, carving its way through the sandstone and rolling rocks from as far away at Northern Ireland and grinding the sand underneath into the tiny particles which remained as clay.

A mere 10,000 years ago, as the last ice age was coming to an end, glaciers from as far away as Northern Ireland, brought with them rocks such as granite boulders which, although very hard, have the sharp edges worn smooth by the action of being pushed along by the ice. The action and the weight of the ice grounded the sand into tiny particles which remained as clay, preventing water from soaking away and the many ponds, meres and wetlands in this area were formed.  As the ice retreated was the time that the great dinosaurs and woolly mammoths roamed the earth.  In 1986 the remains of 5 mammoths were found in a gravel pit near Condover, south of Shrewsbury.  The gravel would have been left by the ice.  It is thought that the hairy elephants fell into a `Kettle Hole`, a clay lined hole filled with ice which then melted and left a lake.

 In Eardiston and Blackbow Hill there are traces of copper which in fact have been mined in the past but the quantities obtained were much too small to remain viable. These copper deposits are probably in the "cement" which holds the grains of sand together to make the sandstone and more details of its extrac­tion in the 19th century are given in a later chapter.

 The first settlers – perhaps,

  After the ice had melted, Shropshire was a mixture of forests, except for the bare tops of hills, and the huge area of water made up of rivers, lakes and marshland. About a mile east of Baschurch on the north side of the B4397 arc earthworks known as the Berth which consist of two elevated portions of ground which were probably surmounted by a settlement of huts, standing in what would have been marsh and linked to each other and to the mainland by cause­ways.  Nesscliffe is supposed to have been a centre for Druid worship, and a small stone circle was said to have existed at Grighill.  There are earthworks around the village which can be seen on aerial photo­graphs but without excavation even the experts cannot be sure if these are British, Roman or Saxon.

The only evidence we have of any settlement in the immediate area is that a bronze spearhead found in Ruyton Moss, the wood on the west side of the track called Watery Lane which runs from Clyffe House to Lower Hopton.  Other signs of early habitation are two canoes, one of which can be seen in Shrewsbury Museum, which were found near Ellesmere where there were probably lakeside villages. Another canoe was found in Bagley and also a small bronze shield.

So, that is the early setting of our village geology – now look at to topography.

If you were a family wandering through this area, through forests with wild animals and dangerous bogs, and were looking for somewhere to settle, this would be an ideal place to make your home. Here was a nice hill where you could build a stockade round your huts, with a river below for fish, and extensive water meadows for your animals.  The hills across the river to the north to protect you, the Brownhill to the east and another hill beyond the river to hinder enemies approaching from Baschurch, and to the south is the Cliffe.  S,o the only way marauding rapers and pillagers could approach, would be from the West but you would see them coming and they would have to climb up your hill through your hail of slingstones and spears.  


I think the family would agree with you, this is a great place to settle down.


 pebbles Grannit stone 
 standing stone
 Pebbles from fields above the valley
Granite stone dredged from the river in 1986   Our `standing stone` dredged from the river in 1986

Protective hills to the north of the churchyard

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