'Jurassic park' just a stone's throw away
Crawfordsburn Country Park in Bangor has become home to a unique display mapping Northern Ireland's development over the last billion years.
The new geological garden tells the story of development across twelve stages of history.
Twelve large stone blocks, sourced from various working quarries have been placed along a trail, each to tell an element of our geological evolution.
The specimens are laid out as a timeline allowing the visitor to experience a time travel journey through a great diversity of past environments.
The geo-garden's 12 stops take the visitor on a guided tour from the oldest rocks representing the Pre Cambrian period to the youngest rocks which are the volcanic basalts and granites from the Palaeogene period and are around 60 million years old.
Announcing the completion of the garden Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "For its size, Northern Ireland is amongst the most geologically diverse areas of planet earth. Nearly all the geological time periods are represented here over almost 1 billion years of Earth's history.
"In that time, what is now Northern Ireland, has experienced an enormous range of environmental conditions including erupting volcanoes, hot deserts, warm tropical seas and glaciers.
"A walk through this wonderful geological garden at Crawfordsburn is a walk through time and space. Using the expertise of geologists, the rocks themselves provide information on the conditions in which each rock was formed, while the associated planting includes examples of trees and other plants related to those from known fossils.
"I urge people to come and take a look at this fascinating garden and follow its journey through the distant past."
The geological garden is located in the main area of Crawfordsburn Country Park across the bridge from the beach car park over the adjacent Crawford's Burn stream. It is open free to the public.
The garden also includes an artificial limestone 'pavement' to represent the story of our cave and limestone landscape features. A small section at the end considers the use of stone in society, past and present, and includes the latest addition to Northern Ireland's archaeological record, a constructed Neolithic dolmen or portal tomb.
Information panels provide specific details on the types of rock, what they tell us about the environment in which they formed, the variety of life present at that time as well as a range of 'geological facts' brought to the visitor through 'Rocky' the Greywacke guide.
In between these the trail takes the visitor through the Ordovician and Silurian periods , basalts formed from lava erupted in a Devonian desert 400 million years ago, Carboniferous limestone formed in a tropical ocean 320 million years ago, desert sandstones from the Permian and Triassic periods, the Jurassic period, represented by a reconstructed giant ammonite and warm water chalk formed in the Cretaceous seas, 100 million years ago. The last panels provide information on the Quaternary.