United Kingdom Virtual Microscope (UKVM): Interactive access to UK rock samples

  • Administered by
  • Reference
      GB ah12 ukvm
  • Dates of Creation
      2.5 million - 150000 BCE (Lower Palaeolithic)
      150000 - 40000 BCE (Middle Palaeolithic)
      40000 - 8000 BCE (Upper Palaeolithic)
      8000 - 5000 BCE (Early Neolithic)
      5000 - 3000 BCE
      3000 - 1500 BCE
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
Access this resource(external link)

Scope and Content

Designed to aid access to the range of quality UK rock samples currently held in museums and other collections, the UKVM offers free online access to over 100 rocks.

The land mass of the UK comprises a great diversity of different rock types – from those formed two and a half thousand million years ago, to more relatively recent formations. Rocks in the UKVM collection were found across all parts of the UK, with origins including ancient volcanoes, deserts, rivers, oceans and ancient mountain ranges that are now eroded.

Each sample is accompanied by an online fact sheet, which provides background information, headline facts, a geological map and a timeline of where the sample fits in the Earth's history.

Access Information

Unless otherwise stated, content within this collection is licensed under Creative Commons.


This is a description of an Online Resource. Online Resources are websites that describe, interpret and provide access to archives. They often provide access to digital content but they may also describe physical materials. They usually cover a theme or topic, such as an individual, a movement, or an important historical event.

Other Finding Aids


A Jisc funded digitisation initiative. Publisher: The Open University

Additional Information

Each rock sample is presented as a virtual thin slice that can be digitally examined for size, shape, proportion and colour. Users can zoom, pan and rotate specimens in light conditions that mirror those of specialist petrological microscopes.

The collection has been designed for use in higher education teaching and research, as well as enabling school-age teaching. Each rock sample has its own URL to aid teaching requirements. Teaching and learning resources are also available on the site, accompanied by further reading ideas and an interactive map showing rock-type distribution across the world.