National Stone Centre, Middleton-by-Wirksworth
Tags: artists, Carboniferous Era, Dennis O'Connor, Derbyshire, Derbyshire Dales, Dry Stone Walling Association, Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, dry-stone wall, dry-stone walling, early sharks, England, fossils, geological riches, Gordon Wilton, Her Majesty's Government, Jason Wilton, lead, lead mines, lime kilns, limestone, limestone quarries, Middleton by Wirksworth, Museums, National Stone Centre, Natural England, Nature Conservancy, Peak District National Park, Roman Era, Romans, shark, Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI, stone towers, Wirksworth
Derbyshire is home to attractions suitable for the most demanding of tourists, but few are as significant (or as less well-known) as the National Stone Centre. Middleton-by-Wirksworth. This is located in a small village, which is itself about a mile outside the town of Wirksworth, situated in the Derbyshire Dales, on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Since Derbyshire has an abundance of geological riches, it is singularly appropriate that a 50 acre site be adopted as the National Stone Centre. Within the boundaries of the site are six disused limestone quarries, lime kilns and numerous shafts associated with lead mining (lead has been mined in the Peak District since Roman times). This area had already been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England, the successor to the Nature Conservancy, an agency of Her Majesty’s Government, due to the presence of an extremely rich deposit of Carboniferous Era fossils, especially early sharks. Both self-guided and guided tours of the site, and its geological delights are available to visitors.
The National Stone Centre has displays and exhibitions, both indoor and outdoor, including no less than 19 styles of dry-stone walling mostly constructed by members of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. Artists, in many media, participate in workshops or display their work (especially during the Wirksworth Arts Festival), and the photograph shows one of three stone towers on the site designed by local artist Dennis O’Connor, and constructed by Jason and Gordon Wilton.