ROSS Vaga Probus Club met on June 11, when the guest speaker - Peter Hancock - gave an illuminating talk entitled Ross in the Rocks - a Geology Detective Story.

Peter is a professional field geologist who lectures to the U3A and the Open University.

With reference to the rock outcrop on the Wilton Road, Peter was able to decipher events that took place 400 million years ago.

Then, the British Isles formed part of a landmass named 'Avalonia', lying close to the equator. Avalonia was a small continent, which slowly drifted north and collided with other land masses.

Hot, arid conditions led to the formation of the Devonian sandstones, which are a feature of the area. With evidence of current bedding and the proliferation of rounded pebbles in the rock, it is probable that - as with desert zones today - flash floods and river erosion led to the transportation and deposition of sandstones high in iron content.

Exposed to the air, the iron oxidized to form the red coloured stone we see today.

Named 'old red sandstone', it was used extensively in the construction of buildings and bridges over the centuries, and explains why the soils both here and in Devon, have a rich, orange colour. Similar old red sandstone formations can also be seen in The Orkneys, Ireland, Norway and New York State.

A plethora of questions arose from Peter's presentation, notably on the time frames involved and on the subject of continental drift.

Vaga Probus is a men only group that meets twice monthly in Ross.

Visitors are very welcome, please contact the secretary on 01989 218295 for details.