Natural England - The Stiperstones (SSSI and National Nature Reserve)

The Stiperstones (SSSI and National Nature Reserve)

Location and Access Information
Grid Reference: SO 365 981

Ordovician quartzite at the Stiperstones.

Ordovician quartzite at the Stiperstones

The prominent ridge of the Stiperstones is located 15km to the south-west of Shrewsbury. Access can be gained off the A488, with parking available at Snailbeach, the Knolls or the Bog, where footpaths lead to the rock outcrops. The site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve (NNR).

Geological Interest

This is a classic geological site providing exposures of Ordovician rocks that were deposited in a shallow marine environment. The prominent ridge and crags is formed in the durable Stiperstones Quartzite whereas the remainder of the site is underlain by Mytton Flags and Tankerville Flags. The flagstones are of particular importance for their diverse trilobite and brachiopod fossils.

The quartzite tors, including The Devil’s Chair, which rises to 20 metres, of the Stiperstones ridge are surrounded by fields of angular boulders, and fine examples of large stone circles occur on the lower angled slopes. The circles become elongated downslope and merge into stone stripes which cover the flanks of the ridge. The tors, circles and stripes provide an excellent assemblage of frost shattered and frost sorted features formed under periglacial conditions probably during the last glaciation when the area lay adjacent to the ice sheet margins.

The quartzite weathers to a free-draining, acidic soil which supports an extensive and varied heathland vegetation showing transitions between southern lowland and northern upland heaths.