Talking Stones!

Talking stones!

Sunday 16th September

12 – 4pm

Mt Cook Adventure Centre

Wirksworth DE4 4LS

Derwent Stories


Altitude Youth Music and Arts Festival


a shouting stone

Do you like rocks?

Do you investigate stones and enjoy fossils?

Join us for a different take on some familiar minerals!

We’re going to be making puppets inspired by the rocks and fossils of the Adventure Centre site. There will be stones to handle, fossils to look at and artists to help you turn ideas into puppets. We know that there are stories hidden in rocks, secrets in stones and every fossil has a tale to tell. So, why not join us to help some puppets fossilise, sediment out or just erupt, and add your own wodnerful pebble person to our pile of talking stones and wandering rocks….

a grumpy lump of pumice

Activity is free: just come along and join in

Like all the Derwent Stories events, Talking stones! is open to anyone who wants to join in but activities are structured around families with children with additional needs


Contact for more info: fb: Stone and Water



a crowned sedimentary queen

I am the Calcite Queen with a crown of crystal,

I am the Boulder King, round and heavy as granite,

We are The Lava Gang, waiting, ready to run,

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the volcano alarm clock!


Make your own ancient rockpool

Inspired by fossils

Make your own ancient rockpool

what might you find…

A Derwent Stories activity

What might you have found if you had strolled along the beach of an ancient sea a few hudnred million years ago….

beachcombing might have revealed all sorts of finds…

We have used this easy technique many times. We designed it for public events where we would have to make a lot of rockpools with visitors in a short space of time but it is very versatile and you could adapt to suit your situation. While this was set up as a prehistoric event you could of course make a modern rockpool, or perhaps a pond!

We used this activity on our Derwent Stories event at the National Stone Centre

This activity guide uses the materials we used with notes about why we chose this or that

You will need

  • a dish – we used waxed card pie dishes (buy in packs from discount stores and supermarkets). Most of our dishes were white but the occasional black ones that we found worked well, too!
  • acrylic paint – to paint on the waxed card – we use large bottles but you could get some small tubes, or try mixing some poster or redimix paint with PVA glue and see if that works
  • paint brushes or sponges
  • Plastic plate to squirt the paint onto (easy to clean)
  • small pieces of this card
  • coloured pens or pencils
  • sharp scissors
  • a small stapler (the smaller the better)
  • PVA glue
  • scraps of stuff: sponge, wool, carrier bag, felt, glitter, sand…..

materials and a sheet of paper to work on


Thinking about fossils

Our aim was to make a rockpool that you might have found if you could have gone walking along a Carboniferous seashore 300 million years ago. You might want to find pictures of some of the animals of the time to help you. Or maybe you have some fossils to look at? Or some plastic ancient sea creatures? Could you visit your local museum and do some drawings…Perhaps if you printed out this page and waved it at them, they would set up an event for all you ancient rockpoolers?

starting to paint

Prepare the pool

Cover your work surface with a sheet of paper – acrylic paint can be hard to clean off. Cover yourself as well if you are a messy worker. You might want an old shirt rather than another sheet of paper

Select your rockpool colours: blue, green turquoise and raw ochre are often good. Smear them round the inside of your pool (paintbrush or painting sponge). You do not need to be too precise here. It is  background and more a sense of sand, rock and water that is needed rather than detailed painting

Set to one side to dry

a pool set aside to dry


Prepare the wildlife

Ok. Now it’s up to you……

our rockpool animals

In this pool we have:

  • drawings of a trilobite and an ammonite (should we have coloured these in?)
  • drawing of a horseshoe crab that has been cut, folded and stapled to give it a more 3-D effect
  • drawing of a coral
  • fragments of one of my painting sponges have given us some rock
  • green wool and a shredded green carrier bag have give us some seaweed
  • Fingertip coral: made by wrapping plastercloth round a finger…

Fitting the wildlife

You could glue everything straight onto the dish, or make little brackets to lift things up off the floor and wall a little


Brackets might be small bits of foam or thin strips of card either folded or zig-zagged into a spring

brackets and supports

Carefully glue them in place.  A matchstick can be helpful in applying glue


Let it all dry, sit back and admire. Then go and tell someone about the day you found a trilobite…..or take and print a photo and send it as a postcard to someone else?

a finished rockpool



Or send us that photo and we’ll have a gallery of rockpools!






a pool made in an (old) mixing bowl



Rockpools and trilobites

After rocks, fossils and wriggly creatures

our day at the National Stone Centre

we don’t know if there were hammerheads all those years ago…but there could have been!

completing a crinoid

Fossils to hold, investigate and draw, a sheet to fill in, or new sheets of paper for your own drawings. There were plastic models of what the organisms who we meet as fossils might have looked like “why is this shark pink?”, “this one’s got lots of legs”,  “Someone thought it might be…”, “Is there a better colour for a prehistoric shark, do you think?”, “Hmmmm….”

Our fossils collections were mostly of Carboniferous Limestone animals: the sorts of  creature who might have been swimming in the sea 290 million years ago that eventually gave us the limestone of the White Peak. No, we had no dinosaurs. We had no giant sea-reptiles or winged pterosaurs. But we did have goniatites and crinoids and the last of the trilobites. There were giant fish in our seas swimming over the coral reefs that would one day raise the spiky peaks of Chrome and Park House Hills

We made prehistoric ecologies on our fingers ( see idea below)

We even made some prehistoric rock pools for a walk along an ancient shore…..

Our next Derwent Stories event will be Butterflies, bumbles and picnics  on Monday 6th August in Darley Park in Derby


stroll along an ancient beach, look in an ancient rockpool


On our fossils day…..

Where did we go:

The National Stone Centre just outside Wirksworth. Postcode: DE4 4LS

Tripadvisor: what do other people think?

taking time with a coelacanth

What did we do:

there are walks round the site where you can see fossils in beds of rock and the bigger patterns caused by ancient seas and sand in the old quarry walls. There is lots to see and touch but they do not like people taking things away from the site or damaging their rocks (so don’t turn up with a geological hammer!)

Other activities: you can go “panning for gold” with bowls full of sand and small polished gems. The aim is to wash the sand out (big troughs of nice cool water outside for this) and find your treasures

See below for one of the activities we brought with us

Costs: there is a £1 honesty box for car parking. Otherwise access to the site is free

Toilets: in the main building, including accessible toilet. We’re not sure about changing table

Café: good selection of lunches, cakes and ice creams and nice places to sit*

Busy-ness: we were there on a sunny day at the start of the school holidays and there were always people around but not so busy that it felt crowded and noisy

Recommended: for people who like finding things out and looking at things and people who like having a bit of room

* We thought some site-specific ice creams might be good…“rare gem”– with shiny sweets in, or maybe sandstone (with caramel fragments), or even fossil ice cream with sugar shrimps…..

Derwent Stories events: after each of our DS events, we’ll post a report like this on what we did,

and where we went in the hope that other people might visit that place themselves.

We will also post instructions to try some of the activities we did as well.


In this blog there are finger puppet trilobites….make your own ancient rockpool and an invitation to try the Carboniferous Fossil Poem will follow shortly!

Derwent Stories

With support from Derwentwise and Foundation Derbyshire,

Stone and Water are running a series of public events in 2018 across the Derwentwise area.

All the Derwent Stories events are open to anyone but are planned for and

structured around families including children with additional needs

Fingerpuppet trilobites

You will need: a postcard-sized piece of thin card, pencil, coloured pencils, a pair of scissors, a small stapler

half a trilobite, folded card

These can start with either a drawing like the one above or half a drawing, drawn onto a piece of folded card with the fold corresponding to the main line of the cross

Cut it out, cut a line in from the edge to the side of the eye (the longer the better usually). Fold the cephalon (head) along this line, folding front over the sides. Staple in place. This will pull the head into a nice curve and the original fold will help shape the rest of the animal.

Add a ring of card to the underside, slide the puppet onto your finger and off you go! (Why not make one for every finger and have a family of them?). Use similar ideas to make other animals…look at their symmetry and overall shape: some work well with folded card (use the fold as the line through the middle of the animal to get symmetrical sides) while others are easier as simple drawings cut out and put on a finger ring





finished trilobites






fingers full of coelacanths












Draw your own Trilobite!

an imagined low tide moment....

an imagined low tide moment….

As our Ancient Landscape project tides run out quietly, we thought we would keep ideas and activities going out there in the wider ancient seas of everyone else’s lives.


We are going to produce several activity blogs to encourage you to explore fossil worlds creatively!


Drawing trilobites

This might seem silly but we’ve found this little activity a useful one to encourage people to really look at and examine their fossils closely. The apttern given here is for a very general trilobite. There are so many different types that your personal one might be a very different shape. We suggest trying this pattern to give you a good sense of trilobitedness and confidence in your pencils. Then look at other trilobites and think about how proportions change….


Tril-11. Draw a cross: if the main line is 3 units long, put the crosspiece at 1 unit with arms of 1 unti each. Make a mark at the halfway point


2. Draw an oval using the tips of the cross as guide


3. Trilobite details

Tril-2 1head: use the tips of cross-piece as guides for the curve of your trilobite’s head and that crosspiece or the half way point as a guide for the back edge of the cephalon (trilobite head)


4. Draw in segments across the thorax – 10 is a good number but on smaller drawing slook crowded 9xercise some artistic license). Look at the symmetry and try to make that what you do on one side you also do on the other


5. Trilobite features: head shield is a cephalon, middle bit: thorax, tail pygidium. Trilobite bean-shaped eyes are compound (lots of small facets)

Underneath: lots of legs and gills

Tril-2 3

6. And just how colourful was a trilobite? Who knows? We do know that on our workshops, groups of Rainbow Trilobites often appear. The originals were probably – possibly – maybe – shades of grey or, like some modern crustaceans, they might have been reds and purples or coloured to suit their preferred habitats….


Developments: try adjusting the intial cross to get a trilobite from different angles. Once you feel confident with quick drawings of these trilobites start shifting the proportions to extend those side spines on the head (look at Fallotaspis and others)

Trilobite fingers

Fingerpuppet trilobites

These can start with either a drawing like the one above or half a drawing, drawn onto a piece of folded card with the fold corresponding to the main line of the cross

Tril-4 1

Cut it out, cut a line in from the edge to the side of the eye (the longer the better usually). Fold thecephalon along this line, folding front over the sides. Staple in place. This will pull the head into a nice curve and the original fold will help shape the rest of the animal.


Tril-4 2Add a ring of card to the underside, slide the puppet onto your finger and off you go! (Why not make one for every finger and have a family of them?)


Other models: the Australian Geological Survey Association do a lovely trilobite model printout. Trilobite sheet:





The tide is running!

Stone and Water have had a lively few weeks.


Our Ancient Landscape project has been inviting people to paddle in a prehistoric Carboniferous sea all over the place, while our Tiny! series of events in Buxton Festival Fringe featured The Return of the Tiny! Pirates. Our working principle with Tiny! is that nothing is much bigger (if at all) than your hand – emphasising the delights of little things and how easy it is to make things quick, small and entertaining

We have visited

silk-worm coral and artwork

silk-worm coral and artwork

Lady Manners School – working with the Year 12 textile students

National Trust at Ilam Park for a Father’s Day event

Buxton Soroptomists where we gave an after-dinner talk complete with fossils, model trilobites and horseshoe crabs, and crochet seaweeds creeping across the tabletops

Peakabout Arts with High Peak Community Arts: with some beautifully deocrated felted kelps unfolding stickily across the workshop

cheerful work at Silverdale

cheerful work at Silverdale

Silverdale Knitting Group offering experienced knitters and crochet-masters new avenues for their creativity – and some fossils to enjoy.

Our artist Sarah, reports: “A lovely afternoon at Silverdale Library with the knitting group. We set off travelling back through time, as far back as 360m years ago, thinking about life in shallow seas. Images of corals, sea lilies and brachiopods living in our landscapes, long, long ago and far, far away. Today we have fossils, clear and tangible memories of life at that time. And our challenge? To help the reef grow, creating with crochet, fossilising with felt and knitting new creatures to populate this ancient landscape.

Hooks and needles, stitching and stabbing (needle felt!) and a busy room all combined to produce twisting coral shapes and felted fish, jellies and stars. Some Silverdale folks plan to visit Buxton”

And a reply from the Knitting group: “I just wanted to extend my thanks on behalf of the ladies who attended the session yesterday .We all had a brilliant time! Thank you again for arranging it for us. A couple of the ladies mentioned on the way out that they are going to drive up to Buxton for the open day! All in all I think it was very successful and I wish that Sarah could come to us every Friday!!”


giant ammonite drawing

giant ammonite drawing



the Tiny! Pirates are on their way back!

the Tiny! Pirates are coming back!





The Tide Comes In!

An ancient sea in Hartington!

 low- fossils 297

 On Sunday 12th May from 1 – 5pm, the ancient landscapes of the Peak District will come to life again (albeit a bit woolly and fluffy) in Hartington

fingertip corals

fingertip corals

As part of the events to launch the Village Trail, our Ancient Landscape will be on show. Visitors will be welcome to dip their fingers into the woolly tentacles of ancient sea anemones and risk a nibbling by trilobites

Visitors will also be able to add their own fingertip corals or other creatures to the growing reef and to make their own Prehistoric Rockpool or Personal Trilobite to take home

you never know just what you'll find in an ancient rockpool

you never know just what you’ll find in an ancient rockpool

Event details

Date: Sunday 12th May 2013,

Time: 1pm – 5pm

Costs: our activities are free (not sure about others)

Venue: Village Hall, Hartington, Hide Lane, Buxton, SK17 0AW

Other activities include fossils to look at, the Village Trail to follow, activities with the Peak Park Rangers and the chance to enjoy one of the Peak District’s lovely villages!

Low-Puppets 9749

dipping your fingers into an ancient landscape can be a risky undertaking!

Sunshine and Trilobites

Miller’s Dale, Saturday 6th April

Early morning: sorted and ready for action

Early morning: sorted and ready for action

A sunny day in the Peak District! This felt like an exciting release after weeks of cold snow and slippery roads and visitors came rushing out to bask in the sunshine.  And the stones were waiting!

rummaging in the fossil-pot

rummaging in the fossil-pot

limestone fossils and fingertip corals

limestone fossils and fingertip corals

galena in fluorspar?

galena in fluorspar?

ancient animal finger-puppets

ancient animal finger-puppets

We had a lovely day working with visitors to this peaceful stopping point on the Monsall Trail

We rummaged in the fossil-pot (thanks to the National Park Rangers for the wonderful chunks of limestone!)

We made new fingertip corals and personal trilobites

40 people went off to look at fossils along the Trail (thanks again to the Rangers for leading these)


a fossil-expedition setting off

a fossil-expedition setting off

prehistoric rockpool

prehistoric rockpool

personal nautiloid

personal nautiloid

And the rest of us (another 60 during the day), looked at stones, handled fossils, made models and enjoyed the sunshine!