Site of Special Scientific Interest

Thick sandstone layer above thinly-bedded siltstone and sandstones of the Orchard Beds

Special Rocks

Rouken Glen Park includes some very unusual rocks, and because of this it is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The rocks in the park formed around 325 million years ago, when Scotland was near the equator, during the Carboniferous Period.  At this time what we now call Scotland was on the boundary between land (to the north) and sea (to the south).  Layers of rock seen in the park are a record of how climate, sea-level and environment changed through a million years or so.

Orchard Beds2

Rouken Glen is a SSSI because it provides a unique record of one particular episode of high sea-level from this time.  A series of mudstone and limestone layers called the "Orchard Beds" can be seen in the gorge of the Auldhouse Burn.  The Orchard Beds contain abundant fossils, and provide a unique insight into the biodiversity of this ancent tropical sea, and how life in the sea changed through time.  There are very few places left in Scotland where the Orchard Beds can be seen and studied, and this is what makes Rouken Glen special.

Managing a geological site presents unusual problems.  The main issue is preventing the rocks from being covered up by plants, soil and debris.  The Heritage Lottery Fund supported a major project to remove debris and vegetation in early 2015, and to make the site easier for park staff to maintain in future.  This makes the rocks more visible, accessible and easier to use by anybody curious about Earth history.


Budding Geologists

Orchard Beds

If you want to explore the geology of the park, a guide has been produced by UKRIGS. View the pdf icon the orchard beds geo-trail guide [1Mb]. Printed copies are also available in the Pavilion Visitor Centre.

If you have found any rocks or fossils and are wondering what they might be, our new displays in the Pavilion Visitor Centre may help, or you can contact geologists who will be able to help at the Hunterian Museum in the University of Glasgow or from Glasgow Life Museums.