Armadale and Area: The Fossil Record

 West Lothian



(adapted from an article entitled Life Before Armadale in Armadale 200, courtesy of JR)

'Fingers prints' left in the area of the Barbauchlaw Glen in the form of fossils, which take us back to the Carboniferous period, 360 MYA, show an area of great forestation, with a hot, steaming climate and swamps.  It was during the Coal Age that insects and reptiles made their first appearance.  Coal was formed in the vast areas of swamps that existed in the later part of this period.

During this Carboniferous period, Barbauchlaw swamp supported giant Lepidodendron trees which grew to a height of 35 metres, but which could reach 50 metres.  This was the main inhabitant of damp forests.  Stigmaria were the roots of the Lepidodendron and could stretch for 12 metres through the marshy substrata.  The Sigillaria tree also grew in this area reaching a height of 20 metres as did the Calamites flourishing in the warm, damp, marshy climate.

Plant fossils recovered include Annularia, related to the Calamites, being of thin jointed stem with circlets of leaves, often found covering flat rock surfaces.  Neuropteris had a fern-like leaf, or frond, with many round leaflets having prominent veins along the midlines.  Sphenopteris, a plant shrub, and the Senftenbergia, a plant fern, also flourished in this Barbauchlaw swamp 360 - 280 million years ago.  The only evidence left by reptiles so far were Coprolites.

Volcanic action, climatic changes, ice ages and desert-like conditions over millions of years formed the Glen and surrounding area we view today.

Five thousand years ago, climatic conditions having settled down, and the last Ice Age having passed, the area of Barbauchlaw would have been covered by dense forests of Caledonian Pine trees, with varied woods, including thickets, with peat bogs, swamp and mosses, ideal for the wild boar, ox, horses, moose, lynx and bears, not forgetting the roaming wolves, to name a few.

Birds such as the eagle would have occupied the landscape, with trout abundant in the local burn.

For the next 4,000 years, the Celts, who formed tribes, benefited from these natural resources by hunting and gathering, and by farming.  A water supply, timber, wild game and fowl helped to fulfil many of their basic needs.


The Fossil Record

The collection of John and Yvonne Reid of Armadale

(including rocks and other items)

All fossils prepared by hand

Scale: Green sphere one inch in diameter

Rare fossil - Hunterian Museum have a piece on show
As above Pine cones Clam
Lepidondron (fossil bark)
Tree trunks roots branches and bark
  Rugose corals  
Strap leaf and small branch Mixed layers of fossil bark As in the first item
Rugose coral
Corals clams and crinoids
Shells and coral
Corals clams and crinoids etc
Corals clams and crinoids etc
Conifer bark
Corals bark and coprolites
Crinoids and shells
John Reid's workshop of corals shells etc
Lepidondron stigmaria root
Corals shells clams etc.


Why is West Lothian a geologically important area? 

Lothian and Borders RIGS* will tell you!

*Regionally Important Geological Sites

New Scientist article re discovery of Westlothiana Lizziae The Carboniferous Period National Fossil Collecting Code
 Geological Time  (1) (2) (3) UK Fossils Network Fossils  (1) (2)
Scottish Geology Discovering Fossils (UK) British Geological Survey   (maps)
Fossil Collecting in North Scotland Fossil Collecting in the Midland Valley and Grampian Highlands Fossil Collecting in South Scotland