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Oceanic crust is generally crushed or slides under land, while continent-to-continent collisions produce mountain ranges on one side, and canyons and basins on the other.The collisions often reignite faults, or cracks, which were originally formed when smaller bits of land were joined together.Because of the incredibly slow pace of continental drift – or wanderings – mountains don’t spring up overnight.They take millions, sometimes tens of millions of years, to form, and even as they form they begin to erode – some quicker than others, depending on the rock and climatic conditions.And down in the Mediterranean, Africa is very gradually consuming the sea and getting ever closer to Spain and Italy.Meanwhile the whole of Eurasia is shifting eastwards, with North America getting crushed by both sides.Previously you could blame meteorites from space, changes in the Earth’s orbit or the ball of red-hot iron – hotter than the surface of the sun at 1600 degrees Celsius – which spins around in the centre of the planet.While the Moon tugs at the ocean tides, and atmospheric conditions above our heads cause us to obsess about the weather, beneath our feet a whole lot of action is going on which we are mostly unaware of, unless all of a sudden the fiery mantle spews out molten lava, unseen forces make the Earth shudder and shake, or sinkholes suddenly and unexpectedly open up to swallow houses and cars.

The Forest’s core ranges from 150m to 250m, originally a mountainous plateau caused from a collision with France, Spain, Africa and North America.

It is this plateau existence that gave the Forest of Dean such an independent spirit, and the layers of history way before humanity which produced the minerals and fossil fuels that gave populations their livelihoods.