Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Petrified


Beside Mother Shipton's Cave is Knaresborough's famous Dropping Well, 'England's oldest visitor attraction', which has been drawing curious crowds since 1630.  A fine example of what is known as a petrifying well, its ability to turn objects into stone was at one time thought to be the result of magic or witchcraft.  Now we know that it is a geological phenomenon.  Water seeps from an underground lake through limestone rock along aquifers, picking up mineral deposits along the way.  It rises to the surface in a spring which cascades down the rock face, leaving behind the mineral deposits, which form new layers of stone.  (It's the same process that produces stalagmites and stalactites in underground caves, but it is rarer that this happens above ground). Anything left in the water's path becomes coated with stone, and so for hundreds of years people have hung objects under the flow.  Teddy bears, hats and shoes can be seen and many celebrities have donated items to be 'petrified' - some can be viewed in the museum nearby.  Apparently it takes 3-5 months for a small teddy bear to turn to stone.  Nowadays the rock face is scrubbed regularly to try and prevent the mineral deposits becoming too heavy and breaking the rock.


16 comments:

  1. I'd never heard of this before. I once had a line manager who could produce a similar effect when she was miffed, though.

    Seriously, this is on my list of things to see, when I'm next in this neck of the woods.

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  2. I can remember my Mum bringing me to Mother Shipton's cave when I was a young girl. I haven't been there since so maybe its time for a reminisce visit?

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  3. What a heartless thing to do to a teddy bear!!!

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  4. How curious. I guess it's not a good idea to stand watching for too long... ;)

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  5. I've read about this, but never seen it in person. I love the ice skate!

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  6. How weird! The petrified things must be really strange to see and to touch.. 3-5 months is not so long to become a stone.Very interesting!

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  7. I see a teddy bear, tennis racket, and a single ice skate. It almost looks like an odd little charm bracelet for the mountain. Great story.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  8. I've never seen this above ground before. Maybe some cave-tour promoter needs to latch onto the teddy bear thing. Jim

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  9. This is so amazing! I have never heard of this or anything of the kind.

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  10. What an interesting place! I too have never heard of it before.

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  11. I learn something new most days on these blogs, and I can honestly say that this is completely new to me. Remarkable! Thanks, jenny.

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  12. That is so cool! I love the assortment of objects that have been petrified.

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  13. Wow...that is unbelieveable! I've never heard of such a thing! It's beautiful, too!

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  14. This is certainly a very unique phenomena... petrified objects! But I'm amazed it takes only a few months for the coating to get stony.

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  15. What a novelty that is! I've never heard of anything like this before. ~Lili

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