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 Surveyed in 1857 and published in 1862, the first geological maps of the Nine Standards area are at a scale of six inches to the statute mile, hand-coloured, and still with the original pencil annotations in some cases. The modern 1:50,000 scale Kirkby Stephen Sheet 40 Solid and Drift Edition , dated 1997, covers a far wider area, but in much less detail. It is hard to know whether the differences are due to the inevitable generalisation of detail, or to genuine revisions and improvement. Together, these maps show that almost all the area is covered by deep peat, which is only absent along the small area of Nine Standards Rigg itself. This peat around the cairns may have been deliberately removed, or simply destroyed by periodic fires or the incessant trampling of walkers. Below the peat, the solid geology is shown in the key or map legend as a neat sequence of decreasing age from layers of massive carboniferous limestone with occasional coal and chert layers, through encrinite shales up to the flagstone and thin sandstone beds that precede the millstone grit, the youngest rock layer.
However, it is evident even from the map that these strata are not horizontal, the neat sequence on the map legend is not repeated on the ground, and not all the faults are mapped. This complication is caused by an extensive area of faulting to the north, which penetrates the ridge itself, and may well have caused fracturing and slippage of the strata across the ridge. The solid geology is not visible on the ridge surface, which is deeply littered with broken flagstone and sandstone blocks, covered in places by a mixture of thin soil and coarse sands, the whole ridge on the east side being scarred by what appear to be old quarries and/or mineral trials. Even in these, the solid geology - if indeed it was exposed by the workings - has long since been grassed over. Without some excavation below the surface, it is impossible to map the extent of the fault zone, establish the exact extent, dip and strike of the strata, and thus to map in detail the solid geology and correlate its lithology with the various man-made features that are found.  Since this is a scheduled monument, unauthorised excavation is prohibited. Further east, the millstone grit is well exposed at the surface, but apparently much of it as boulders, not solid rock.  It will be important to establish how much of the surface material is loose and due to glacial and post-glacial deposition.  In short, the situation is complex and will require detailed mapping of the solid geology and superficial deposits before man's impact and use of the site can be accurately assessed.


Reproduced courtesy of the British Geological Survey.  IPR/142-75CY.

For first report of work completed in the summer see: August 2012

For the second report of work completed in the autumn see: December 2012

For the final report of work completed see: December 2014


We already have quite a few friends who are helping with the project but more needed - please see the friends page for more information about becoming a friend or helping with the project.

To see copies of the original documents mentioned on the History page, see the documents page.

To read an exploration of the linguistic background of Nine Standards, see the what's in a name page.

There are quite a few old maps which mention Nine Standards and these can be found on the mapspage.

Nine Standards is a wonderfully photogenic place from any angle and we have added photographs to many of the pages of this website.


    Copyright © Friends of Nine Standards, 2011