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Marking William Smith's birthplace: Plaque Unveiling

22 March 2015
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Event type:
Field trip, Social event
Organised by:
William Smith Bicentenary
Spring Cottage, Junction Road, Oxfordshire
Event status:

William Smith, Father of English Geology, was born in Churchill in 1769 and Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre are delighted to be celebrating the bicentenary of his famous geological map of England and Wales by unveiling a plaque marking Smith's birthplace; thanks to the generous support of The Curry Fund.  

The plaque is to be placed on the wall in front of Spring Cottage, Junction Road.  

Professor Hugh Torrens, the foremost expert on William Smith, will be our guest of honour.


12 noon


William Smith was born in 1769 in Churchill, where his father was a blacksmith. He attended the village school. Legend has it that his interest in the landscape and geological enquiry was sparked by the echinoids ('poundstone' fossils) that he found in local fields. Later, while surveying the Somerset Coal Canal in the 1790s, Smith noticed 'regularity in the direction and dip of the various strata in the hills...'  

Observing that rock layers occurred in a a predictable pattern, he also noted that fossil assemblages could be used to order strata in terms of relative age. This was his Principle of Faunal Succession. In 1815 Smith published a hand-coloured geological map of England, Wales and part of Scotland, famously establishing the chronological order of rock layers in the United Kingdom.


Convenor Contact

Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre

Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre
Hastings Hill
Nr Chipping Norton

Tel: 01608 658603 or 01608 658579