The panel is beside the path near the entrance to the site. The panel is set in a flat-sided granite boulder which lies among many other boulders. But the other boulders are NOT granite and the granite boulder was brought from a nearby quarry. The back of the granite boulder was intentionally partly buried in the ground, like the other boulders, but rests at the front on the dark rock that Roche Rock is made of. This is explained – interactively – on the panel, so the panel’s mount is in fact part of the interpretation. Granite is composed of feldspar, quartz and mica but the dark rock (locally called schorl and even sometimes ‘blue elvan’) is composed of quartz and tourmaline. Visitors are asked to observe these different minerals in labelled close-up images of both rocks (so that’s interactive). The tourmaline is black which gives Roche Rock its dark grey-to-black colour contrasting with the light grey colour of the granite in the quarries and forming the tors.
The theme of the panel is “Rocke Rock is a special place, special for its geology, its wildlife, its history and to local people for hundreds of years.” The site is a well-known tourist spot – for the ruined medieval chapel perched on the rock – so people know “Roche Rock is a special place” – they have come to visit! But if these visitors just read the words in large font and go away realising there is more of interest here than just the chapel on the rock then the interpretation has been successful. If people want to read more information – in smaller font (that’s layering) – then that’s even better! And if people download the trail from Roche Rock to Tresayes Quarry (or pick up a copy in the village) and then follow it on rights-of-way over the fields and along lanes to Tresayes Quarry then that’s even better!
So this panel illustrates what interpreters mean by a theme, and by layering and by interactivity. The designer was briefed to make the overall design not be intrusive in the landscape so the overall colour is green and a textured off-white. The boulder is half-buried and the plants which were dug up for the installation were replanted afterwards.
The boulder is on the left side the path, not in-your-face, but if you turn your head slightly to the right Roche Rock is a couple of hundred metres ahead of you. Finally the granite boulder can be easily removed if the interpretation is vandalised – the boulder is just over the hedge beside the road and was craned in from a Hi-Ab lorry: it can be removed in the same way. Currently – February 2019 – work is underway to renew the panel.
The two panels in the quarry are interactive. On the first panel visitors are asked to work out the order in which the minerals crystallised; the answer is on the second panel which is about 10m further along the quarry face. The panels were originally put up as laminated A3 sheets and visitors’ responses were evaluated. Finally, after a few minor tweaks, the (expensive) large panels were produced and installed.
Yes, there are a lot of words on these two panels! But people need to make an effort to reach the quarry – either over the fields or else up a track beyond the end of the road. So I feel justified in giving a lot of information. But this information is broken up into several different stories – ‘a tall story’, ‘a gritty, human story’, and ‘a caring, sharing story’. And then there’s also ‘a detective story’ where visitors are asked to work out something for themselves. There are lots of images – from old photos and documents, from an electron microscope and from ‘ordinary’ cameras.
And there’s a strong conservation message.
The designer was Aawen Design Studio. Several people’s images went into this panel, and others contributed information: I hope I have credited all of them along the bottom of the panels.
Every few months the panels and the rock-face get a wash-and-brush-up.
You can download high quality pdf of the panels and trail leaflet from Downloads. You are welcome to use these for education/research purposes (but please credit John Macadam / Earthwords) and if you wish to publish them please contact me to sort out copyright issues (it should not be a problem!).