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Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon

Wavellite

Dr William Wavell (1750-1829) was born in New Church, Isle of Wright. Originally practicing as a surgeon in London, by 1799, William was residing in Castle House, Barnstaple. Trained in botany and apothecary Dr Wavell developed a keen interest in geology which lead him to explore the High Down Quarry in Filleigh. In 1805 the mineral later known as ‘Wavellite’ was officially discovered there. Already noted by other mineralogists, William was the first to send material to London for documentation therefore receiving the discovery credit.

This example of Wavellite has radiating acicular crystals on siltstone and is likely to be William’s type specimen (the specimen on which the description and name of a new mineral is based). The paper label inscribed ‘195’ relates to its original collector and museum donor, the geologist Townshend Monkton Hall.

Object details

Museum number: NDDMS 1994.1.1

Simple name: Wavellite

Material: Phosphate Mineral

Date: Found 1805

Collections: Natural History

Location: Not on Display