TWO geology fanatics have seen three years of hard work come to fruition after publishing a book on Oxford’s gravestones.
Nina Morgan and Phil Powell have always been passionate about teaching people about the wonders of geology.
Mr Powell spent his working life helping the public understand the subject as assistant curator for geology at the university’s Museum of Natural History.
Dr Morgan too has disseminated information to the masses as a freelance science writer.
But their latest venture hopes to “inspire non-geologists” to take up the hobby in the city, by using gravestones to inspect rock formations, degradation, and even discover fossils.
Chadlington resident Dr Morgan said: “Graveyards are the perfect place to inspect rocks and look at their different states.
“The rock’s condition changes over time and creates some interesting features to inspect.”
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As a result of three years of work, the two enthusiasts have written a guide to six cemeteries, offering handy tips for the seasoned fanatic or the novice with a magnifying glass.
The 140-page book has been self-published by the pair, and they have already sold 50 books without advertising.
Dr Morgan said: “It was impossible to find a publisher to put out this sort of book because it’s very specific.
“We’ve put our own money into it and we’re hoping to spark interest in geology.”
They need to sell 300 books to break even, but it is their hope to continue inspiring people and enthuse the next generation of geologists.
Some of the things that can be seen in gravestones from as early as the 18th century are fossils.
Dr Morgan explains: “There is a real prevalence of ironstone and marblestone in this area, and in some gravestones you can see fossils.”
The guide is also available on Kindle, and is separated into six for each cemetery covered in the book: St Sepulchre’s in Jericho, Holywell Cemetery and St Thomas A Becket in the city centre, St Andrew’s Headington, Headington Municipal and St Mary & St John in East Oxford.
Dr Morgan said: “It was our publisher who said it would be a good idea to split them, so people could use it to go on day excursions.”
The guides on kindle are £2.99 each, and the book is £14.99.
The book can be bought by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Powell and Dr Morgan will also be offering free guided tours for seasoned geologists and first-timers at Holywell Cemetery on September 12, and St Sepulchre’s on September 13. Both tours will start at 2.30pm.
For more information on the book and the geology of gravestones visit gravestonegeology.uk