Product has been added to the basket

The Ironbridge Gorge

Shropshire, England

""The People’s Choice

The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge nestles on the banks of the River Severn, dominated by the Iron Bridge itself. A quirk of geological fate gave Ironbridge its place in history. 

It just happens that all the ingredients for making high quality iron were exposed in the area some fifteen thousand years ago. Melting water from beneath a glacier carved the steep-sided gorge, and cut down into layers of coal, limestone and iron ore. So, when modern man came along, all the material he needed for iron smelting was easily accessible to him, in large quantities.


The River Severn runs across the county from west to east. Around Ironbridge it runs in a deep gorge which has been cut through the rock. The Gorge was cut by the erosive action of a river flowing beneath a glacial ice sheet that had moved south from where the Irish Sea is today across the North Shropshire plain, about 20,000 years ago. 

The valley sides rise steeply from 40 m at river level to over 140 m on the plateau above. The rapid downcutting by this subglacial river steepened the valley sides so much that they became unstable. Landslides are still occurring to this day.

Text courtesy of the Shropshire Geology Group

Nominated by: Stuart Fewtrell (Facebook)

100 Great Geosites

Related Links

More Information

For more information on the geology of this area, see the Shropshire Geology Group’s Geotrail Leaflets on the Ironbridge Gorge, and the nearby geosite ‘The Wrekin’ which features in the Landscape category.

Images (top to bottom):

  • The Iron Bridge © Keith Havercroft (Source Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
  • Ironbridge Gorge
Earth Science Week

ESW no date badge 2018
October 13 - 21
Theme: 'Earth Science in our lives'