National Stone Centre

Opening Hours
10am - 5 pm Apr - Sep
10am - 4 pm Oct - Mar
7 days a week



The National Stone Centre has hosted thousands of schoolchildren on visits to our site over the years. We now have a refurbished Discovery Centre with a dedicated visitors room for the use of schools. Where possible we hold the activities outdoors (depending on the weather) but as the Guided Trail and Gem Panning have to take place outdoors, we suggest visitors come equipped for all weathers. Bags, coats and lunches can be stored safely in the visitors room. Coaches can stay in the car park in dedicated bays.


Key Stages 1 & 2

We can offer the following activities, all of which last 1/2 hour, schools can either select their own activities or opt for the popular 'Treasure in the Rocks' Day Event;

Guided Geo-Trail On the trail visitors find out how limestone is created, visit fossil beds to discover brachiopod, coral and crinoid fossils, learn about quarrying and see a former quarry that produced roadstone for the M1 and find out about lead mining in the area whilst looking into our lead mine shaft.

Building Britain Exhibition A guided tour of the exhibition including a quiz sheet for visitors to complete as they go around.

Gem Panning Gem panning is a fascinating hands-on activity. Visitors carry their pan of 'sand' to shallow ponds of clean water and swirl the mixture to separate out the hidden semi-precious gems. A case of labelled examples is available to assist with identification by colour and shape. Visitors then get to take the gems they find home with them!

Fossil Casting Fossil casting gives children the opportunity to make Plaster of Paris casts of fossils.  They can find out about the earliest creatures on Earth and think about how their remains became part of the rocks beneath our feet.

Study of rocks/minerals A study of rocks and minerals gives our visitors the opportunity to examine and compare samples to illustrate their varied appearance, origin and properties. This gives rise to a discussion of the many different uses of stone now and throughout history.

Soil study A demonstration of different types of soils is available. This includes comparing their varied texture and properties and illustrating the relationship of soils with the underlying rock and the process of colonisation by plants.

Rock Shop  Contains a range of fossils, rocks, minerals and other stone related items for visitors to peruse and purchase.

Goodie Bags for schools are now available in the Rock Shop - Goodie Bag 1 contains: Pencil, Pad, Rubber and Mixed Tumbled Gems - Goodie Bag 2 contains: Pen, Pad, Fossil and Mixed Tumbled Gems.  See the Schools Booking Form for more details.

'Treasure in the Rocks' Day Event  These are very popular with schools and consist of six activities (Guided Trail, Exhibition, Gem Panning, Fossil Casting, Rocks & Minerals and the Rock Shop) with a break in the middle for lunch. These events are very popular and often involve large numbers of children, so it is important that groups arrive promptly and keep to the schedule they are given on the day.

Each party of children will be divided into groups of, usually, between 15 and 20 and require at least two adults accompanying each group.  For more information or to discuss your visit, please call 01629 824833.


Key Stages 3 & 4

A visit to our “Building Britain” Exhibition and to the Geo-Trail will be most appropriate for Key Stages 3 & 4. These illustrate and lend discussion to the following concepts required in the National Curriculum spread across several different subject areas;

  • Earth Structure and Composition
  • Plate tectonics, the Rock Cycle and Geological Processes
  • Interactive timeline to discuss evolution of the Earth’s environments, atmosphere and climate change through geological time.
  • Mineral resources and their extraction
  • Quarrying & Limestone
  • Construction Materials
  • Calcium carbonate and the limestone reaction cycle.

For more information or to discuss your visit, please call 01629 824833.



How to book

  1. First check, by telephoning the National Stone Centre (01629 824833), to see if your chosen date is available  before completing the booking form.
  2. Print out a copy of the PDF form and send it in by post.
  3. Print out a copy of the Health & Safety Statement and return a signed copy together with the signed copy of the booking form to the National Stone Centre.
  4. Print out a copy of the Risk Assessment for your own paperwork. 
  • Please pay on the day or within 14 days of the invoice date.
  • Please make cheques payable to National Stone Centre.
  • Please give 14 days’ notice of cancellation or a charge may be made


Each school is responsible for their pupils while they are on site.