UNDERCROFT

Undercroft

The Museum springs from the soil of Oxford: an organism from Man’s imagination. To its builders it was a temple of creation, rooted in the earth, yet striving towards the heavens.

As a geologist, my eyes are always downcast. Wherever I am in the world, the bedrock attracts my gaze. No less so in my unique workplace. The foundations of the Museum are a metaphor and a microcosm. Standing upon late glacial River Gravels, the Museum keeps its toes dry on the firm, porous sheet of Ice Age outwash. The vaulting honeycomb of stone reveals spaces beneath which transport us back in time: to the nineteenth century and oyster shells discarded by erstwhile workmen, and further still, to the end of the Pleistocene, over ten thousand years ago. The pebbly, earthy material visible on the floor of the access tunnels is a mixture of ancient gravels and the soil once topping them.

A forgotten space, this is where the Museum meets geology, and puts down its roots.

Paul Jeffery, Geological Collections