A Wooster Geologist in Wales (continued)

Aberystwyth, Wales — After the successful Larwood Meeting in Cardiff, I took a train to Carmarthen and met my friends Tim and Caroline Palmer for a delightful few days in Wales seeing building stones and geological sites. I’ve known Tim and Caroline since 1985, and Tim and I have published much together. Not only was I again adding to my knowledge of geology (and as always thinking of student Independent Study projects), but I was seeing old friends with whom I have much in common.

Above is Laugharne Castle in the town of Laugharne of Dylan Thomas fame. The castle was originally built by the Norman lords as part of a chain of strongholds to constrain the Welsh. You can read about the history of the site here.

The rock on which the castle was built was even more interesting, of course. It is Old Red Sandstone (Devonian), showing a facies a bit mysterious to us. It has trace fossils (Diplocraterion?), climbing ripples, and what may be dewatering structures.

One of my favorite activities is to go into Medieval churches with Tim and study the building stones and other stonework. Here is Tim examining an effigy in the Llanfihangel Abercywyn church interior. Tim is an expert on building stones in Great Britain, especially the sedimentary ones used most often in Medieval and earlier structures.

The baptismal font is usually the oldest stone object in a church because it can survive longer than larger, more complex parts.

A very special treat was seeing this stone at the end of our day. It is a monolith 1.4 meters high inscribed with “CORBALENGI IACIT ORDOVS”. This translates to: “Here lies Corbalengi the Ordovician”. It is thus called the Corbalengi Stone. It is Celtic and probably from the sixth century. It is one of the very few inscriptions mentioning the Ordovices tribe, from whom the geological period Ordovician is named. For those of us who work in the Ordovician, this is special. We like to think of Corbalengi as the Last of the Ordovices, although there is no other evidence for this.

A closer view of the Corbalengi Stone.

A much better image of the Corbalengi Stone, taken from this site. What a great start for the second half of my explorations of Wales.

Finally, I had to add this image of driving in Wales. This is a two-way road. Tim is a superb driver, for which I’m grateful!


About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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