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Darwin's birthplace hosts annual festival

The fifth annual Darwin festival took place in February this year in Shrewsbury, Darwin's birthplace. The month-long programme explored a number of themes and focused in particular on Shropshire's unique geological story.

Shrewsbury rocks

Shrewsbury Darwin Festival 2007

Shrewsbury Darwin Festival 2007.

Peter Toghill told the story of Shropshire's incredible journey across the face of the planet from south of the Antarctic Circle. Professor Hugh Torrens from Keele University explained the links between early geological pioneers and the local landscape. Sir Roderick Murchison, a Scottish geologist, described the county's varied rock formations in 1839, and some geological periods are named after ancient tribes that inhabited the Shropshire landscape.

James Moore from the Open University delivered the Charles Darwin Memorial Lecture on the theme of Darwin, Sex & Slavery. Other highlights included a talk by Johannes Vogel for The Natural History Museum, Professor Richard Napier for The Institute of Biology and Santiago Bejarano for the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Around 50,000 people saw the Galapagos Diary photographic exhibition staged in the gallery of the local shopping centre.

Birthday toast

The festival celebrated Darwin's birthday on 12 February with what is now an annual birthday toast at noon around the Bellstone. This is a granite boulder that was Darwin's first introduction to geology. It was pointed out to a young Charles Darwin that it was a type of rock usually found much further north in Cumbria or Scotland. He later understood that the enormous boulder ended up in Shropshire after being swept along by glaciers in the last ice age.

Find about about all activities in Darwin's home town.


‘There is grandeur in this view of life... from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’ Charles Darwin