Remarkable Earth heritage art, and some geology to discover in the forest.
Zoom in to the Google Map to find the points of interest.
The High Lodge Forest Centre includes a towering sculpture (see map) by Julienne Dolphin-Wilding. ‘Earth Matrix’ is 12 m (39 ft) high and made of flint, gravel, concrete and steel, and was installed in 2004. It gives an artistic interpretation of the layers of geological time beneath our feet, with help from a nearby explanation panel. It is well worth seeing.
Earth Matrix, Julienne Dolphin-Wilding
Victorian geologist SBJ Skertchly wrote a classic account of the Brandon gunflint industry, and compiled a geological column of his own 14 m (46 ft) deep. It shows the strata encountered by local miners. Among them was the ‘dead lime’, a layer of chalk fragmented by frost in the Ice Age, and productive flint bands such as the Toppings and Wallstone.
Layers of Chalk bedrock. [Image from ‘On the Manufacture of Gunflints’ by SBJ Skertchly, 1879]
The Forestry Commission surfaces its trackways with a variety of geological materials. Flint gravel is commonest, but there are also more exotic rock types, including: • ginger-coloured Cretaceous Carstone from West Norfolk, about 110 million years old • pale yellow Jurassic oolitic limestone from Northamptonshire, about 175 million years old. A keen eye can spot fossil brachiopods, corals and bivalves in the limestone; it was laid down in a warm, shallow sea in which Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus swam.
Oolitic limestone roadway.
A Jurassic bivalve fossil (cross section).
High Lodge Forest Centre offers a variety of paths and cycle ways, and one of them, the Fir Trail, passes close to a trench used by the University of East Anglia to teach soil science. It is located near a holly bush (see map). It shows a sandy loam disturbed by frost action during the last Ice Age. Soils like this are characteristic of plateau sites in the Brecks, where glacial till deposits overlie Chalk bedrock. They are about 7 m (21 ft) deep in this area.
University of East Anglia soil research trench.
High Lodge is the Forestry Commission’s main visitor centre for Thetford Forest. It is signposted from the B1107 Brandon-Thetford road - see Ordnance Survey Explorer map no.229 ‘Thetford Forest in The Brecks’ (c.TL 811 851). Car parking charges apply via toll road. The surrounding forest is public access land.