Home / Geology Section in Ulster Museum


The geology of Northern Ireland is more varied than any other similarly-sized region of the British Isles. Its bedrock geology includes examples from almost every period of geological time during the last billion years of Earth history. The whole area is blanketed with relics of the last Ice Age, left behind when the glaciers finally retreated just a few thousand years ago. These relics continue to control the present-day patterns of drainage, human settlement and agriculture.

Geology is all around us, not just beneath our feet but in buildings, roads and most types of manufactured product. Geology affects almost every aspect of our lives, from where we live to the fossil fuels we use to run our cars, heat our homes, or generate power. The very shape of the landscape is determined by geological processes.


The geology collections consist of approximately 30,000 fossils, 11,000 minerals and 4,000 rocks. Major strengths are fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks which fringe the Antrim Plateau, fossils from the Carboniferous Limestone of Ireland, and Ice Age faunas (animal life).

There are important historical and heritage collections, such as Geological Survey of Ireland material collected in the nineteenth century. There is also an outstanding gem collection of around 1,000 items, and a small but growing collection of meteorites.

Most recently, a large collection of rocks, minerals and fossils was transferred from Queen’s University Belfast, following the closure of the university’s geology department in 2001


The social life collections reveal important aspects of everyday community life, both at work and at home. These include formal and informal uses of medicine, the impact of religious and informal beliefs and practices on daily life, peoples attitudes to political issues, their working lives, sport, how our forbears relaxed and had fun, how they marked the changes of the year. The collections also cover how beliefs and customs reflected life events, especially births, marriage and death.


The Ulster Museum offers a wide range of programmes of interactive, practical and enjoyable learning opportunities that directly support your curriculum needs. All our sessions have been designed and developed by quali?ed teachers and are delivered by our dedicated learning team.

These sessions can provide motivation either as a starting point for learning activities or for pursuing a topic in greater depth. All our sessions are suitable for children with special needs.

How To Reach Ulster Museum Belfast

By Rail

Botanic Station is only 10 mins walk from the museum. Botanic is located on the Bangor to Portadown rail line. Connections to the Larne and Derry lines as well as the cross-border service to Dublin can be made in Belfast Central.

Travel with NI Railways after 9.30am any day of the week and get 1/3 off a day return ticket!

By Bus

Metro 8 Malone Road departs from Belfast city centre, Donegall Square East every 10 mins. Bus stop is located at the side of the museum building.

Adults – 1.60

Children 80p

Unlimited Metro Day Travel for 2.70 (after 9.30 am)

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