Glasgow’s Fossil Grove is a group of fossilised tree stumps located within Victoria Park, Glasgow, Scotland. The fossils were discovered in 1887 and contains the remains of eleven extinct Lepidodendron trees. They are sometimes referred to as “giant club mosses” but are more closely related to quillworts, the aquatic grasses otherwise known as Isoetes. The Fossil Grove is managed as a museum and has been a popular tourist attraction since it opened for public viewing just three years after it was discovered.
The site is the city’s oldest visitor attraction and right from its earliest days has featured the remains where they were found, viewable from a platform in a building specifically constructed to protect the fossils from the elements.
The Grove is a unique heritage site that shows the tree stumps from the Carboniferous Period. They are roughly 330 million years old, and remain embedded in the ground where they grew.
In the late Victorian era, workers were putting down a path as part of the new park (subsequently named in honour of Queen Victoria) when they uncovered the fossils. They were cutting through through an old disused roadstone quarry when the first stump was unveiled. The rarity of the artefacts was recognized almost immediately, and a building was hastily put together to preserve the site and it was this first structure that is still there today.
Due to where it is located, the site is owned and operated by Glasgow City Council’s Parks Department. The Fossil Grove Trust work with the Council to help present and conserve the fossils and find new sources of funding to improve the overall visitor experience.
On 1 January 1890, the Fossil House covering the Fossil Grove opened to the public for the first time, and apart from periods of restoration, has remained opened ever since. In the 1920s, the wooden roof timbers were replaced with metal beams to secure the roof.
Even with the stronger roof put in only twenty years before, during the Second World War, a bomb damaged the roof and a single trunk and a concrete spacer was put in to help preserve the centre of the damaged trunk. The windowed roof was replaced with regular roof panels in the 1970s, and today the Grove is maintained by the Land and Environmental Services Department of the Glasgow City Council, and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.