This somewhat overgrown quarry is owned by the National Stone Centre. It exposes the Eyam Limestone Formation, which is rich in crinoids and molluscs. Large blocks have been left on the quarry floor and, in the past, the bedding surfaces of these yielded shark remains.
♦ Head towards the National Stone Centre, which is marked on maps and can be found between Matlock and Wirksworth.
♦ Enter the centre and follow the road until you reach the main car park. This has an honesty box for donations.
♦ When you enter the car park, you will notice a bridge over which runs the footpath that you need to take. Head towards the exit near to the old train, and follow the path up and over the bridge.
♦ Follow this path until you reach the mini-railway. Enter the railway line through the gate (be aware of trains, as it is sometimes used) and take the path along the side of the track to the left. The railway line stops in the quarry.
♦ Ref: SK 28645 55349
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – This quarry is now fairly overgrown. Fossils can be hard to see in the weathered rocks, and the slabs with fossils in must not be touched. It is more of location to visit and examine as part of the National Stone Centre Museum. However, crinoids can be collected from the quarry floor.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – The National Stone Centre and the trail itself are quite child friendly. The quarries are owned by the centre, but the areas around the outside of the site are not for young children, as the slopes tend to be steep and/or with overhanging and falling rocks.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Access to all of the quarries within the National Stone Centre is excellent. However, note that you will need to walk alongside a mini-railway line, which sometimes is in use.
TYPE: – This is a disused quarry, which is part of the National Stone Centre. Fossils from loose smaller rocks and scree can be collected from the quarry floor.
This old quarry contains slabs full of crinoids and brachiopods, and was once used for the extraction of slabs for decorative paving. The rocks are weathered and fossils can be hard to see, but you should find loose Crinoids and brachiopods, particularly in the smaller rocks around the quarry. Do not touch the large slabs, which are used to show what the fossiliferous slabs looked like. In the far right of the quarry, crinoids can be found abundantly in the quarry walls and, in the right hand north quarry wall, Gigantoproductus shells can be seen.
The shark remains are the most interesting aspect of this quarry. The bedding plains of the large slabs are full of dermal tubercles of the shark-like fish, Petrodus patelliformis. These are hard to see and most are worn, but they are 5 to 8mm in size and look a bit like squashed limpets. Tiny teeth from another shark, Anachronistes fordi, can also be found. Remains from both of these sharks are normally rare from the Carboniferous, but are quite common here, suggesting that a shoal of them suffered a mass mortality event.
The Dinantian (Lower Carboniferous) Limestone at Steeplehouse Quarry consists of the Eyam Limestone Formation. This is from the Brigantian Substage of the Visean Stage.
The quarry was once used to extract the rich crinoid/brachiopod slabs used for decorative purposes, such as paving slabs. The Eyam Limestone Formation is a thinly bedded, dark grey, cherty, bioclastic limestone, with fossiliferous beds of brachiopods, corals and crinoids, and a few dark mudstone intercalations.
There are two important safety issues. The light railway line is not used very often, but you should look out for trains at all times, in case it is being used. Although small, these mini-trains are quite heavy and powerful. Once in the quarry, be aware of the steep steps in the middle of the floor. You can easily slip.
We suggest just taking a camera to photograph any slabs and bags for any loose fossils. A small hammer could be taken for the smaller rocks, but should not be used on the large slabs or bedrock.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – Steeplehouse Quarry