1 Understanding

Understanding and auditing our geodiversity resources

Norfolk's geodiversity includes cultural as well at natural resources. We need to understand these resources and their vulnerabilities in order to promote their conservation and enhancement.

This work involves auditing the county’s geodiversity, using published sources and personal communications to build a list of significant sites and features in the field, and also cultural resources such as museum collections. The next step is to verify and assess this information through a ground-truthing programme.

The rescue recording of geological information from temporary exposures will help fill in gaps in our knowledge.

The Norfolk Geodiversity Audit

In 2007/08 we commissioned the Norfolk Geodiversity Audit, with funding from Natural England. It started with a survey of published literature and consultation with geological specialists. It represents an initial digest of significant geological and geomorphological sites and features in the county, including SSSIs.

The results of the audit are subject to a programme of 'ground-truthing', including identifying and contacting land owners / managers, and hopefully checking details of visible features and site condition. Much work remains to be done. The results will help inform the Local Sites designation process, and represent baseline information about designated sites and geological interests within the wider environment. The listing of a site does not imply any official conservation status or designation, nor right of public access.

The results have been prepared in a spreadsheet database organised on a Local Authority basis. The number of audited sites and features (including SSSIs) broken down by local authority is (as at July 2009):

Ground-truthing work at Hoe Gravel Pit, developed in sands and gravels of the Anglian glaciation. Photo Tim Holt-Wilson

The results of the Audit are available on request from the following sources:

  • Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership - contact Tim Holt-Wilson: tel.: 01379-870411; email: timholtwilson@myphone.coop.

  • Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service - http://www.nbis.org.uk/.

Annotated photograph of an exposure of Norwich Crag sands beneath Anglian till at Thorpe St Andrew. Photo Elvin Thurston

Rescue Geology

Many geological exposures become temporarily available each year without being recorded and sampled. The Geological Society of Norfolk and the NGP are promoting the 'rescue recording' of such exposures, as part of understanding the county's geology.


Norfolk has a significant geocultural heritage of museum collections and information archives. The county's geology, landforms and archaeology have been the subject of scientific research for over two centuries. Notable local collectors included R. Fitch, J.E, Sainty and N. Peake. In many cases their material is curated by the Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service or regional museums.

Photographic archives such as the Hallam Ashley may provide evidence of long-vanished geological exposures and landforms.

All known archaeological sites and finds in the county are listed in the Norfolk Historical Environment Record database.

A flint ring (paramoudra) on Sheringham beach, 1911.

Photo © BGS / NERC P241299