Published 2011

ISBN 978-0-9555289-1-0
Published by CPGS, 24 October 2011
£9.50 : Colour : pp. 203

Available directly from Paul Kabrna


Craven & Pendle Geological Society
Foreword : Paul Wignall
Introduction : Paul Kabrna

Chapter 1
History and Research
Paul Kabrna

Chapter 2
Depositional history (Tournaisian - Viséan) of the Bowland Sub-Basin
Paul Kabrna

Chapter 3
Fossil echinoderms from the Mississippian (Lower Carboniferous) of the Clitheroe District
Stephen K. Donovan and David N. Lewis

Chapter 4
Pendle Hill - a turbulent past
Ian Kane

Chapter 5
Field Excursions (1 - 7)
Paul Kabrna

Fossil Plates (1 - 3)
Paul Kabrna and Jeremy J. Savill


The area of northern Lancashire stretching from the Bowland Fells to the hill of Pendle is a mixture of rugged moorland and quiet pastoral valleys. Unlike the limestone uplands of the Yorkshire Dales immediately to the north it receives relatively little attention from tourists and is consequently blessed with many beautiful and tranquil locations. Surprisingly, this disregard also applies to the degree of geological study that has been undertaken in the region, particularly in recent decades, despite the fact it contains some of the most varied and fascinating Carboniferous geology to be found anywhere in the country. Thus, we can thank Paul Kabrna for assembling a team of experts to produce the first book to specifically focus on the geology of the area, known to most as the Craven Basin.

For much of the Carboniferous Period the Craven Basin recorded relatively deep-water conditions that lay south of the stable, slowly subsiding, shallow-water Askrigg Block. Undoubtedly the most celebrated rocks encountered in the Basin are reef mounds or knolls and Paul provides an accessible introduction to these fascinating features and their associated strata. There is much we do not understand about these mounds – we have no modern analogues – for example how were they formed and why were they only common for a brief interval in the Early Carboniferous? Read what Paul has to say, see the rocks in the field and ponder.

The Waulsortian mounds are also famous for their fabulous echinoderm fauna, and here for the first time Stephen Donovan and David Lewis have provided an authoritative description of this important and exceptionally preserved fauna. The disarticulated remains of crinoids are familiar when cursorily glancing at most Carboniferous limestones but, in the rocks around Clitheroe, we find complete cups (calyxes) of crinoids, complete blastoids and echinoids. Now Palaeozoic echinoid remains are rare indeed but to find them with their plates still articulated is truly exceptional. The reason for such preservation is, like many other features of the Waulsortian mounds, still a mystery, but you can see them illustrated here in all their glory.

By the end of the Early Carboniferous the limestones were giving way to an inundation of terrigenous sediment, initially dark muds (now the Bowland Shale) and ultimately a major influx of sand that formed the deep-water turbidite fan that constitutes the Pendle Grit. This is a tough rock and it forms the impressive uplands around Clitheroe. Study of these strata is important because they provide good analogues for many oilfield reservoirs and, of more direct economic significance, they are the source of road aggregate in working quarries in the area. Nonetheless, like the other rocks in the region, geological attention has languished in recent decades but it is now undergoing something of a renaissance. This is thanks to the almost single-handed research efforts of Ian Kane, and here he provides a valuable introduction to both the rocks and the processes that formed them.

Enjoy reading about these diverse rocks and their fossils and when you have done so I encourage you to visit them in the field using the field guides provided. You will not find many areas in the UK where carbonate reef mounds, black shales, and major sand bodies can all be seen within a few kilometres of each other.

Paul Wignall
University of Leeds,
September 2011.