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Key Oxfordshire Sites

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"Geological SSSIs represent the best geology and geomorphology reflecting the county's geodiversity."

Key Sites of Geological and Geomorphological significance in Oxfordshire


Oxfordshire extends across some 2,605 square kilometres. The surface geology of Oxfordshire comprises a series of rocks of Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary age that are gently tilted to the south east, so that the oldest rocks outcrop in the north west and the youngest in the south east the county. Quaternary deposits from the glacial periods of the Quaternary are also found here.


Some sites of geological or geomorphological significance in Oxfordshire are recognised for their scientific, educational, historic and aesthetic value and are protected from insensitive development by regulation and legislation. There are 34 geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and 45 Local Geology Sites (LGS) in Oxfordshire.


A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a conservation designation, gazetted by Natural England, denoting a protected area in England. Geological SSSIs fall into two types, having different conservation priorities:


  • Exposure sites These are where quarries, road, rail, canal and disused railway cuttings, cliffs or outcrops give access to extensive geological features. Conservation of these sites usually concentrates on maintenance of access for future study.

  • Deposit sites These are features which are limited in extent or physically delicate—for example, they include small lenses of sediment, mine tailings, caves and other landforms. If such features become damaged they cannot be recreated, and conservation usually involves protecting the feature from erosion or other damage.


The term Local Geological Site (previously Regionally Important Geological or Geomorphological Site (RIGS) are protected in the local planning system and are selected on a local basis according to the following nationally agreed criteria:


  • The value of a site for educational purposes in life-long learning

  • The value of a site for study by both amateur and professional Earth scientists

  • The historical value of a site in terms of important advances in Earth science knowledge, events or human exploitation

  • The aesthetic value of a site in the landscape, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth sciences.

You can view the SSSI sites in Oxfordshire by district council area:


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