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Would You Like to Buy an Extinct Volcano?

The U.K.’s Posbury Clump may not have the snazziest of names, but the site boasts a rich history—and is available for around $60,700

The Posbury Clump. (Jackson-Stops)
smithsonian.com

Amid the rolling hills of Devon in the United Kingdom, sits a little settlement known as Posbury, comprised of a former convent, a few houses and not much else. This bucolic patch of England was once home to an active volcano that is now as sleepy as the surrounding farmland. And according to Sabrina Imbler of Atlas Obscura, that volcano is available for sale.

Today, the ancient geological site is covered with a verdant woodland known as Posbury Clump. It's not the snazzieest of names, but ascend 500 feet to the location's peak and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. According to Jackson-Stops, the agency that is listing the property, the volcanic woodland is available for a cool £50,000 (around $60,700).

The area is part of the Posbury Clump estate, which is owned by the former convent of Posbury St. Francis. The volcano that sits beneath the woodland is 250 million years old and has long gone extinct, so it won't pose any fiery threats to its new owner. And whoever acquires the property will be laying claim to a rich historical site. Posbury has been occupied since the Iron Age, and centuries later, a quarry was opened to take advantage of a prized natural resource on the volcanic outcrop: hard basalt stone. That stone was used to construct notable buildings in the area, among them a church in the nearby town of Crediton.

The quarry last operated at the turn of the 20th century, and today, it is shaded with a lush canopy of indigenous ash, oak and holly trees. Because it still bears signs of postassium-rich lavas from the Permian Period, the Posbury Clump woodland has been deemed a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a formal conservation designation for spots that boast rare plant and animal species, or unique geological features.

There aren’t many privately owned volcanoes in the world, but as Imbler points out, Posbury Clump is not the first volcano to be made available for sale. In the 1940s, Robert Ripley—of Ripley's Believe It or Not fame—tried to buy a baby volcano that had recently burst forth from the ground in Paricutin, Mexico. The Mexican government, however, stepped in to stop the sale. The Whakaari volcano in New Zealand was purchased by one George Buttle in 1936, and it remains in his family’s hands today. The Pisgah Volcano in California and the Newberry Volcano in Oregon are also privately owned, Imbler reports.

Posbury Clump is not quite as imposing as some of these other volcanoes; Whakaari, for instance, towers more than 1,000 feet tall and is active. But the opportunity to own a volcano—even a small, extinct, clumpy one—is still pretty neat.

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including NYmag.com, Flavorwire and Tina Brown Media's Women in the World.

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