Geology & Soils

The Parish has a set of environmental factors and practices which all combine to give it a uniqueness- its terroir. It has a culture and heritage of apple-arboriculture – the growing, propagation and development through tree nurseries. This has been the work of individuals and families over many generations. Some of this contribution is documented in the section on our Cider Families of the Parish.

Our Geology – The Jurassic

The geology of our area and nearby dates from the Jurassic period – roughly 145 million to 170 million years ago.
In evolutionary terms during the Jurassic period we get the first mammals and the first birds. Termed Mesozoic – middle life.
Above an artist’s impression of plants and animals
Typical fossil records for this time period would include dinosaurs, ammonites, birds, plants, bivalves, molluscs etc.

The rocks of the immediate and nearby area include those of the Bridport and Pennard Sands. These were laid down during the Middle & Upper Lias. Most of our underlying geology belongs to The Pennard Sands.
There is a major fault line which runs east–west through East & Mid Lambrook.

The Pennard Sands

The Parish has two major Soil Types based on this geology:
Siltstone & Soft Sandstone
Siltstone & Stone
Siltstone = fine grained sedimentary rock made up of compacted / consolidated silt

Sandstone = sedimentary rock made up of sand &/or quartz grains cemented together with silica – often red, yellow or brown in colour.
Virtually the whole of the Parish is made up of these two soil types, shown in green and orange.
New Cross & Burrow Hill are on the lighter, more sandier, Pennard Sand – g2 – shaded green.
Stembridge, Bladon and Burrow are on the heavier more clayey – g1 – shaded orange.

The remaining geology – the areas shaded grey / brown – are mudstones.
The areas shaded yellow, are fluvial deposits, reflecting a higher sea-level in the past.
Looking west, with Burrow Hill in centre ground.
Photo : Matilda Temperley


“The soils are part of the terroir of an area – that is the mixture of climate, soils, aspect and people. This gives the distinctive local taste of any product whether it be asparagus or cider apples.
We don’t have to work our soils and we probably only have to plough every 20 years or so.
Our soils are ‘settled’ soils. They are lighter with a higher sand content than in the lower lying fields of the parish. These low lying fields have a higher clay content and so keep the moisture more easily. This is especially good for bigger trees.
When farmers plough, they get to know intimately the different nature of the soil in different fields and indeed soils in the same field.
Down the slopes from New Cross to Stembridge the soils become more difficult to work as they progress to a higher clay content. The teasing amongst farmers is that New Cross is on ‘boys land’ being easier to work, whilst Stembridge is on ‘man’s’ land.”

William Hebditch : New Cross Farm
A little more background reading.
If you would like more in-depth reading about the geology and soils of the Parish, good starting points could be from these two publications , above and below.
Published by Rothamsted Experimental Station 1987