Saturday, 12 January 2013

Stoned again!

In 1698 three ‘medicinal springs’ were discovered at Matlock Bath, with the first of the bath houses which gave the town its name being built shortly after. The thermal waters are rich in minerals, which were thought to be highly beneficial for everything from leprosy to gout.

The calcium content of Matlock water is so high that objects sprayed with it are left coated with a layer of calcium carbonate. If left long enough, they will petrify until completely ‘turned to stone’. There were several petrifying wells in the town, known as dripping wells, but today only one remains, in what is now the aquarium.

As Matlock Bath opened up to tourists in the nineteenth century, there was a huge demand for petrified objects. Locals sold petrified wigs, brooms and bonnets to the people that flocked to the town, made fashionable by such famous visitors as the then Princess Victoria, Lord Byron and John Ruskin.

Our picture shows petrified objects from the early part of the last century. The basket of eggs, teapot and skulls are pretty obvious, but we’re not sure about some of the others. Have a look and see what you can spot.

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