Herefordshire & Worcestershire Building Stone Database Goes Live
The A Thousand Years of Building with Stone project team is very pleased to announce that, as of this month, the new website and database for the project is live on the web. It has been a long hard road to get here, but with almost seven months of development and rigorous testing of the site since Christmas by project volunteers, we are now happy with the finished article. The website combines public-facing news, blogs and events, a searchable database and interactive map (see overleaf) and a volunteer-only login section. This section allows anyone working on the project to enter data, see what others are working on and collaborate on different aspects of a building record. Going forward, the focus now will be on raising awareness of this important new resource among a wide variety of groups and acting on continuing feedback from end-users and volunteers alike to make tweaks and improvements.
In all aspects, building stones HQ remains a hive of activity with talks, training events and roadshows already bringing in nearly 500 people so far this year alone. Many more are planned including workshops at the upcoming Geologists’ Association Symposium in Ludlow, presenting the database to the National Historic Environment Record Forum, and embryonic plans to host our own end of project conference. On top of this project staff and volunteers are scheduled to deliver a multitude of walks and talks across the two counties over the next few months.
We are increasingly seeing small breakthroughs in the research by volunteers. These include snippets of information that have revealed the provenance of the building stones used in Hartlebury Castle, found by Anthony, and the old Lea & Perrins Chemists in Malvern, while casting doubt on that in Worcester Bridge and Berrington Hall. Excellent work by volunteers is untangling the knotty details of stone use in Kington, the Ludlow Anticline and Bredon Hill, to name a few, often with unexpected results and fascinating stories. If we are learning anything it is that from any angle this research is not easy. Nevertheless that challenge serves to make every bit of progress more satisfying.
Scientific testing is well underway on a mini mountain of thin sections from the Bromyard area, the analysis of which has been greatly aided by volunteer Logan’s help. The limiting factor in this is always the availability of stone samples so if you do hear of renovations or alterations taking place on stone buildings we would be very grateful of efforts to secure samples of any unwanted stone.
We are also well on the way planning building stone trail guides and publications and, as is rather a developing theme, in this we have been very pleased to see the volunteers taking a strong lead. Groups in Bredon Hill, Kington and Bromsgrove have all begun work on interpretation material, the results of which we await eagerly.
Now in our third year of the project, the next 12 months for us will really be about doubling down and extending the successes we have seen so far and getting ever more stuck into the difficult job we have set ourselves. We very much look forward to telling you what we’ve learnt.
This article original appeared in Earth Heritage Trust News, Spring 2015. Click here or on the image above to explore the database.