Hampshire Cultural Trust

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Why we collect

Why do we have fossils, rocks and minerals in our collections?

The Hampshire County Council Museums & Archives Service (HCCMAS) cares for more than 20,000 fossils, rocks and minerals in order to fulfil three specific aims:

  1. for information about the stratigraphy of the underlying geology & distribution of the fossil faunas throughout Hampshire
  2. for evidence of current and historical geological research in Hampshire
  3. for reference specimens used for scientific research and training

For information

The HCCMAS Geology Collection is founded on collections from our original core museums at Alton and Basingstoke. Additional collections were added following the later incorporation of museums at Christchurch, Andover and Gosport.  In recent years media attention has focused the public attention on our rich palaeontological and geological heritage; locally the thirst for knowledge in this field has never been so great!  The HCCMAS collection and expertise is therefore able to interpret the diverse evolution of life and the complexities of local geology, which have gradually through geological time shaped our environment and literally the ‘ground beneath our feet’.  

Who do we work with?

Our main geology gallery and hands-on experience is displayed at Gosport Museum. In addition the HCCMAS network of local museums across Hampshire provides access to local geological specimens a in a variety of ways including permanent and temporary displays, activities and workshops. SEARCH at Gosport uses the collections to provide hands-on natural history sessions for school groups. These sessions are closely linked to the National Curriculum and are led by expert staff.

Our goals

  • to work with local education providers, amateur, academic, university students, geological societies and professional organisations to improve the understanding of local and regional geology.
  • to provide quality, well provenanced specimens for use by HCCMAS and others

For evidence

The Geology Collection contains quality, well-documented palaeontological, geological (zonal/stratigraphical) specimens and, to a lesser degree, mineral varieties. These individually and collectively represent the rich diversity of the fauna and geology of the prehistoric environment of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  The collection also contains a diverse assemblage of comparative specimens collected from other British regional geological areas.  The collection was founded on late Victorian specimens collected from the Hampshire Basin and our current collecting policy still focuses on this geological area. In recent years collecting has not only targeted the poorly represented faunas and geological areas of Hampshire, but has also continued an ongoing programme of rescue from both permanent and temporary localities. This intensive programme of fieldwork and well-organised electronic documentation has helped build the collection into a regionally important source of faunal, zonal, stratigraphical and locality related data.

Who do we work with?
The environment departments of Hampshire County Council and the local Borough Councils frequently consult the Geology Collection.  Local universities, the general public, amateur and academic collectors, not only provide us with a rich source of site information but have also proved to be an important source of well-documented geological specimens.

Our goals

  • to provide an accessible, well-organized, secure collection
  • to ensure that identifications are confirmed by experts
  • to  make relevant data available on the web
  • to be acknowledged as a regional centre for Hampshire Geology

For reference

Our Geology Collection is a regionally important geological resource, which contains numerous frequently rare, well-documented geological specimens supported by a comprehensive geological library.  In order to maintain a high standard of classification, particularly for palaeontology, the collection taxonomy is regularly revised in-line with the most up-to-date academic research, supported by relevant scientific literature.

Who do we work with?
The importance of most users of the Geology Collection, currently stored at Gosport, is that they are ‘experts’ who use or interpret the collections through research, often on behalf of environmental and educational organisations. Most visits are from people using the collections and the associated library as a reference resource. They include environmental consultants, local authorities, ‘amateur’ geologists, university students, geological societies, artists, the media and members of the public with an identification enquiry.

Our goals

  • to provide a comprehensive, well documented reference collection
  • to maintain a quality library and database relating to key areas of research and reference
  • to provide good quality study/research facilities
  • to continue working with amateurs, professionals and students