Using exciting, innovative and interactive displays in the Visitor Centre the Geology Rocks exhibition showcases College Lake's geology and natural heritage during three time periods: the Cretaceous, Pleistocene and the modern age.
Around 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, southern England was underneath a warm, shallow sea. The remains of tiny plankton in the water dropped to the sea floor and eventually formed the chalk that now extends all the way through the Chilterns. Buried within the chalk are fossils of the creatures that used to live there.
Around 200,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene period, life at College Lake had changed again. The area was savannah grassland and wildlife living there included wild horses, lions and woolly mammoths. Bones and remains of this prehistoric wildlife found on the reserve are in the second part of the exhibition.
During the late 20th century College Lake was a working quarry and the chalk was excavated, made into cement and used in construction. Many fossils, including ammonites and sea urchins, were uncovered during the excavations and fossils from the site are on display in the exhibition.
Kate Sheard, Community Wildlife Officer in Bucks, has coordinated the production of the exhibition. She says: “We’re very excited to be able to showcase the history of College Lake through Geology Rocks. The interactive exhibits and displays encourage families to explore together, and there’s more in-depth information for people who would like to delve further into the history of the reserve. We are very grateful to the volunteers whose skill and knowledge helped us to create Geology Rocks.”
Thanks to the hard work of the Wildlife Trust and dedicated volunteers, College Lake has been transformed into the wildlife haven we see today. More than 1,000 different wildlife species live here and the final part of the exhibition looks at this wonderful wildlife. The poor chalky soil is perfect for many special wild flowers, which attract a range of insects and other wildlife.
Geology Rocks is already part of the schools programme offered by the environmental education team at College Lake. The new exhibits build on the programme and give children first-hand experience of one of the county’s important geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The exhibition is funded by a funded by a £74,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which will finally uncover the fascinating geological story of College Lake. As well as enhancing current collections at the popular nature reserve, visitors – particularly local schoolchildren – will get a glimpse even further back into the site’s past to see how its formation and use has created the environment we can see today.”