Madame How & Lady Why: Chapter 5 - The Ice-Plough

I must tell you that there are sometimes—not often, but sometimes—pages in Madam How's book in which one single letter tells you as much as a whole chapter; in which if you find one little fact, and know what it really means, it makes you certain that a thousand other great facts have happened... You feel like Robinson Crusoe when, walking along the shore of his desert island, he saw for the first time the print of a man's foot in the sand. How it could have got there without a miracle he could not dream. But there it was. One footprint was as good as the footprints of a whole army would have been. A man had been there; and more men might come. And in fear of the savages...he went home trembling and loaded his muskets, and barricaded his cave, and passed sleepless nights watching for the savages who might come, and who came after all. 
And so there are certain footprints in geology which there is no mistaking; and the prints of the ice-plough are among them. 

Charles Kingsley 

The photo above is of the glaciated Nant Ffrancon valley in North Snowdonia, Wales.
I used some of the resources below just for my own interest & education in this area. The videos would be enjoyed by most children even though they may not understand some of the content. Glaciers, Madame How's ice-ploughs really are a fascinating study.
I've put some other resources on my Ambleside Online Pinterest board.
Also see Ambleside Online's study guide by Katie Barr for this book.

What is a glacier?

A mass of ice which moves down a valley from above the Snowline towards the sea under the force of gravity.

How do glaciers affect land?

According to my Penguin Dictionary of Geography, more lakes are due to glacial erosion than any other cause. Glaciation is the covering of an area, or the action on an area, by an ice-sheet or glaciers. The video below is a clear and thorough explanation of glacial erosion - 'plucking,' cirques, glacial horns, the formation of roche moutonnées and other landforms - about 7 minutes in length.

Nant Ffrancon is a deeply glaciated and visually dramatic valley in north Snowdonia
- See more at:
Nant Ffrancon is a deeply glaciated and visually dramatic valley in north Snowdonia
- See more at:
Nant Ffrancon is a deeply glaciated and visually dramatic valley in north Snowdonia
- See more at:

Glaciers with chocolate: Did you know that glaciers hold nearly 2% of Earth's water?

Not the greatest picture - I took this photo of my husband standing in front of the Fox Glacier in the South Island of New Zealand on our honeymoon. It was a very eerie, surreal atmosphere & an awe-inspiring sight.

This one below is the Tasman Glacier at Mount Cook. We took our four eldest children aged 2 to 8 years at the time up the Ball Hut Road when we spent some time living in New Zealand and looked down on this from a different angle. Spectacular, but I was glad to get off the side of Mount Cook. I was waiting for an avalanche to take us all out.

What is an iceberg? 

A mass of land ice which has broken off or "calved" from the end of a glacier or from an ice shelf, and is afloat in the sea.

Pg 88:
Snowdonia - good photos of glacial activity and its effect on the land. Old earth perspective. Some fantastic photos of the area here and here

Pg 89 - the power of ice & snow. Some news photos of effects of a winter storm in New England, January, 2015. 

Pg 91 - Kingsley mentions the Esquimaux (Eskimo) in relation to living in a permanent winter environment. There are many videos related to life in the Arctic but here are two from 1959 and 1950 that I have actually watched & thought were quite good:

What is a Moraine?

Material, mostly rock and soil, left behind by a moving glacier.
Pg 92 & 93

 Mueller Glacier, NZ with moraine in the foreground (Wikiwand)

Pg 94 to 96 - An academic article on glacial geology which I thought tied in well with Kingsley's observations.

'Many of the surficial geologic deposits which are the foundation for the fertile farmland soils and deposits we extract from sand and gravel pits were laid down during glaciation.

Pg 99 - rochers moutonnes: the glacial erosion video above explains these plus other terms very well.

Page 100 - Serpentine rock

Pg 100
Glen Muick

'Spittal' is an old Scots word meaning 'a refuge on a remote hill pass' and is said to come from a time when there were wolves on the hills. Loch Muick lies a short distance away. Lochnagar is on the skyline to the right.

 © Copyright Nigel Corby and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

I mentioned this in a previous post on MHLW but it relates to this chapter so here it is again - a PDF for children on glacial erosion and the shaping of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. One mention of millions of years.

Posts for previous chapters of Madame How & Lady Why:

I. The Glen
II. Earthquakes
III. Volcanoes
IV. The Transformations of a Grain of Soil
V. The Ice Plough


Heather said…
I have left Madame How until now, but this post has inspired me to dig out our Kindle version from Yesterday's Classics. Thank you for all the resources you've listed.
Carol said…
You're welcome, Heather.