top of page

Oxfordshire Fossils

The Geology of Oxfordshire

Philip Powell


Never mind the architecture — what’s it made of? The Geology of Oxfordshire will tell you.


Philip Powell is the perfect author, having spent 40 years as assistant curator of the geology collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

And it’s ideal for the general reader, with a helpful glossary. The book is arranged chronologically, and there are maps and photographs allowing you to visit spots of particular interest — although he says that apart from the cement quarry at Kirtlington, the other geological sites where you might find fossils are all on private land.


But it’s easy to see the red fields of Banburyshire, the marlstone and limestone used for village buildings at Deddington — or to visit the William Smith monument at Churchill, near Chipping Norton, dedicated to the father of English geology. Then there is Taynton stone, from the hamlet near Burford, used to build Windsor Castle, several Oxford colleges and churches — and on Radcot Bridge, north of Faringdon.


As for the Radcliffe Camera, above, the situation is complicated. Headington limestone has decayed badly in Oxford’s damp atmosphere, says Powell. The white plinth at ground level and at the base of the columns is a more durable variant called Headington Hardstone. The walls and columns at the top were originally Taynton Stone but have been patched with other stones.


The Oxford Times


Large format sewn paperback
108 pages
259 x 201 mms
Nearly 140 colour illustrations, including photographs, maps and diagrams


Dovecote Press, 2005

ISBN 987-1-904349-19-8

Available from OGG and the Museum of Natural History, Oxford.

The Geology of Oxford Gravestones

Nina Morgan & Philip Powell

If you're itching to see more rocks, but aren't able to go on the field trips and geowalks organised by the Oxford Geology Group – don't despair. Instead, why not visit your local cemetery?  As OGG members Nina Morgan and Phil Powell explain in their new book, The Geology of Oxford Gravestones, almost any urban cemetery provides a valuable opportunity to carry out geological field work at leisure, right on the doorstep and at no cost.  Because of the wide variety of rock types used for gravestones, cemeteries, they point out, are geological troves – and offer a wonderful introduction to geology that anyone, be they amateurs or professional geologists, can enjoy.



Beautifully illustrated with very high quality colour photographs, the book includes chapters outlining geological trails in six Oxford cemeteries: Holywell, St Sepulchre's, Headington Municipal Cemetery, and the churchyards of St Thomas the Martyr on Beckett Street, SS Mary and John on the Cowley Road, and St Andrew's Headington.  Each trail is illustrated with a clearly drawn map that makes it easy to find each gravestone example. The text provides information about the rock types used for each grave and includes a very helpful 'What to Look' for section that highlights and describes geological features, such as fossils, sedimentary structures and minerals, that can be seen in each example – and importantly, tells you where on the gravestone to look to see them!  The accompanying colour photographs home in on the main features and provide clear and magnified images of the rock types.  A comprehensive glossary at the end of the book provides additional geological information for those who want to know more.



Each trail will provide an hour or two's absorbing and informative entertainment for the geologically minded.  But friends, partners and family will enjoy this book too.  Cemeteries are great places to look for wildlife and wildflowers. And because the authors also include information about the people buried beneath the stones, the book provides a unique insight into the people who lived, worked and were buried in the Oxford area from the 17th century to modern times.  Highly recommended

140 pp, 140 pages

glossary and index 

7 maps,

geological column

389 colour photographs.


Geologica Press, 2015

ISBN 978-1-91058-53-1

Available from the authors;

see for information about how to purchase.

bottom of page