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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: August 2010
  • First published in: 1863

CHAPTER XIV - CHRONOLOGICAL RELATIONS OF THE GLACIAL PERIOD AND THE EARLIEST SIGNS OF MAN'S APPEARANCE IN EUROPE—continued

Summary

Extinct Glaciers in Wales.

THE considerable amount of vertical movement in opposite directions, which was suggested in the last chapter, as affording the most probable explanation of the position of some of the stratified and fossiliferous drifts of Scotland, formed since the commencement of the glacial period, will appear less startling, if it can be shown that independent observations lead us to infer that a geographical revolution of still greater magnitude accompanied the successive phases of glaciation through which the Welsh mountains have passed.

That Wales was once an independent centre of the dispersion of erratic blocks, has long been acknowledged. Dr. Buckland published in 1842 his reasons for believing that the Snowdonian mountains in Caernarvonshire were formerly covered with glaciers, which radiated from the central heights through the seven principal valleys of that chain, where striae and flutings are seen on the polished rocks directed towards as many different points of the compass. He also described the ‘moraines’ of the ancient glaciers, and the rounded masses of polished rock, called in Switzerland ‘roches moutonnèes.’ His views respecting the old extinct glaciers of North Wales were subsequently confirmed by Mr. Darwin, who attributed the transport of many of the larger erratic blocks to floating ice. Much of the Welsh glacial drift had already been shown by Mr. Trimmer to have had a submarine origin, and Mr. Darwin maintained that when the land rose again to nearly its present height, glaciers filled the valleys, and ‘swept them clean of all the rubbish left by the sea.’

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