300 million years ago the landscape of the Peak District was being formed beneath tropical seas.
Today, the fossils and stone formations hold the secrets of those prehistoric times and the creatures that lived here long before even the days of the dinosaurs.
Ancient Landscapes is a project that aims to get people thinking about the history of the Peaks using interactive workshops.
The project is run by Buxton–based community group Stone and Water, and funded through the Peak District National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.
It looks at the end of the limestone days, and the climate change that shifted a world from pale limestones and dark shales to millstone grit.
Gordon MacLellan, a project director, commented: “The aim is to celebrate the people, wildlife and creativity of the Peak District and a lot of our activities are trying to get people outdoors and doing simple creative things.
“It gives people a sense of place, a sense of belonging to a place, and it helps them explore their own feelings for where they live and hopefully recognise how strong they feel about a place. It’s only when their awareness comes do you get motivation to protect and look after places.”
Throughout the summer, the Ancient Landscapes team are hosting indoor and outdoor workshops throughout the area for both adults and children.
At a recent event at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, youngsters were encouraged to create ancient rock pools using crafts.
Gordon said: “In some workshops we do ancient animal finger puppets and with some adult groups we have been knitting a new landscape – so we’re doing fairly quick activities.
“Crochet is an ideal way of making the shapes of ancient corals.
“Corals grow in very mathematical patterns and the same patterns can be repeated in crochet so that we can quickly form the exciting and dramatic shapes of corals, sponges, seaweed and other marine life.”
The Ancient Landscapes project encourages people to build sculptures to inspire others to look at the rocks beneath their feet with new eyes. “Participants on events are welcome to make trilobites, fish or ammonites, or corals or seaweeds to take home, but we’ll also invite them to add contributions to our ancient landscape and help us grow our own ancient reef out of wool, paper, card and clay,” Gordon added.
Stone and Water is keen to hear from groups who might like their own session.
Artists could visit a knitting group to talk about fossils, take a youth group for a walk down a dale, or chat about drawing and model–making with local history or other groups.
“We don’t see ourselves as experts,” Gordon said, “we have techniques and basic information but we are always meeting people with new skills and much more detailed knowledge to add to the project.
“We welcome everyone’s input – hearing about local fossils, or meeting expert crocheters, or just finding people who will have a go at everything.”
For further details on the project and forthcoming workshops, visit ancientlandscapes.blogspot.co.uk or alternatively the ‘Ancient Landscapes’ page on Facebook.