Fossil forest gets national recognition and protection

A fossil forest in Brymbo, near Wrexham, which pre-dates dinosaurs, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural Resources Wales.

Fossilised bark from Brymbo. Credit: Peter Appleton

The site covers an area nearly half the size of a football pitch and contains a variety of 300 million year old fossilised plants and trees.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says it is a world class site for plant fossils.

They are the remains of plants which grew in hot, humid conditions near the equator - and include 20 fossilised giant clubmosses that look like massive tree stumps.

The fossils were first revealed in 2004 on the former iron and steel works site in Brymbo. Much of the fossil forest remains buried for its own protection.

NRW says plans are underway, led by Brymbo Heritage Group, to establish an excavation and visitor centre on the site that will ensure the right conditions to study and display the fragile fossils.

Fossilised fern. Credit: Peter Appleton

The SSSI designation will help safeguard the fossil forest into the future as a superb scientific and educational resource.

Fossils have a wide appeal and this site, developed with the right expertise and care, has the potential to be a popular tourist attraction, contributing to the local economy of this area.

– Raymond Roberts, NRW geologist

There is an extraordinary story of tell at this site, linking the geological history with Brymbo’s industrial heritage.

Our aim is to secure funding in time to open the excavation and visitor centre in the summer of 2018

– Gary Brown, Brymbo Heritage Group

In the meantime, Brymbo Heritage Group organises guided tours, open days and community digs for people to see the fossil forest and industrial heritage.

Some of the best and rarest fossils have been removed and are being conserved in the National Museum of Wales. They will be returned to Brymbo for public display, once a suitable building is ready.

It is illegal to remove fossils or damage a Site of Special Scientific Interest.