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Aymestry Limestone

Blue-grey, hard, nodular argillaceous limestone. The presence of the strongly ribbed brachiopod Kirkidium knightii is diagnostic for this formation. Widely used in the Mortimer Forest, Woolhope Dome, Suckley Hills and Ledbury areas. The character of the formation, like most of the Silurian strata, can vary markedly between a massive limestone suitable for dimension stone to a rubbly siltstone used for rough walling.

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Raglan Mudstone

Most of the Raglan Mudstone Formation, which underlies the central plain of Herefordshire, consists of red, purple and green mudstones but beds of sandstone occur too and have been widely used for building stone. Sandstones tend to be micaceous and flaggy with multiple colours in a single bed. More unusually, on Bringsty Common a coarse quartz-pebble rich sandstone occurs from which large blocks have been extracted for building on the Common and in the Norman Church of St Peter in Bromyard. A notable example of the formations use is the late 18th Century Berrington Hall, near Leominster, said to have been built with stone from nearby Shuttocks Hill. The chocolate brown sandstone comes from a layer in the Raglan Mudstone. (Note that the Raglan Mudstone is part of the Old Red Sandstone group of rocks but relatively recently it was realised it was in fact Silurian in age rather than Devonian like the rest of the ORS).

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Halesowen Formation

Carboniferous sandstones found in North Worcestershire from Highley to Abberley. Generally greenish to buff, the stone is commonly micaceous and cross-bedded and marked out by the frequent occurrence of small nodules of iron which appear as dark spheres or irregular patches which tend to protrude from the surface. Orange goethite iron staining, particularly on joint surfaces is common.

A couple of local variations occur: Highley Sandstone was quarried in Highley, Shropshire, at Stanley Quarry which in medieval times was owned by Worcester Diocese and forms an important source of stone for the early Cathedral. There are also documentary sources of its use in various bridges along the Severn including Worcester and Bewdley. The Thick Sandstone is the local name given to the formation in the Mamble and Abberley areas as seen, for example, in Abberley Old Church.

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St Maughans Sandstone

Colour Variation in St Maughans Formation, Callow Quarry, Herefordshire

Colour Variation in St Maughans Formation, Callow Quarry, Herefordshire

Lying stratigraphically above the Bishops Frome Limestone is the Early Devonian St Maughans Formation. This unit underlies the Bromyard Plateau of northeastern Herefordshire, the tops of the ‘cornstone’ hills to the north-west of Hereford, the area to the west of the Golden Valley (and extending up onto the flanks of the Black Mountains), and a roughly east–west trending swathe of land to the south of Hereford. The formation comprises a mix of red-brown, green or purple mudstones, sandstones, conglomerates and calcretes, which are superficially similar to the lithologies of the underlying Raglan Mudstone Formation.

Red and green stripes using St Maughans Formation sandstones, Cloddock Church Tower

Red and green stripes using St Maughans Sandstone, Cloddock Church Tower

The sandstone bands, meanwhile, have been quarried for rubble, flagstone and, where thick enough, for dimension stone. Though not often occurring in continuous bands, the sandstones of the St Maughans Formation are more abundant and thicker than those of the Raglan Mudstone. These sandstones (and perhaps some of the sandstone bands within the Raglan Mudstone) are the principal sources of Herefordshire stone roofing ‘slate’. A small number of quarries still actively work the St Maughans Formation sandstones for building and roofing stone in the Golden Valley area.

Both the colour and grain size of those beds suitable for building stone are highly variable. In general, the coarser beds tend towards a pale grey colour and these are the beds most often used for the main quoinstones and buttresses of churches and other large buildings. There are also essentially medium-grained, cream-coloured sandstones which often show stripes of purple-red. The finer-grained sandstones and siltstones are often well laminated but tend to be very soft and easily eroded. Although usually a more uniformly darker red or purple colour, they may occasionally be greenish-grey. Within any one building, therefore, it is not at all unusual to find the full range of stone types, sometimes doubtless indicating different ages of construction, but not necessarily a common source. [Summarised from the Strategic Stone Study Building Stone Atlas of Herefordshire, English Heritage 2012]

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Bromsgrove Sandstone

Old Quarry Face, Forelands Grove, Hill Top, Bromsgrove

Old Quarry Face, Forelands Grove, Hill Top, Bromsgrove

Red and grey, sometimes mottled, Triassic Sandstones from the Bromsgrove Sandstone Formation quarried in the Rock Hill and Hill Top areas of Bromsgrove.

Used locally mainly for large boundary walls it was most probably exported and is used across the county.

Several other sandstones from the same geological formation are used as building stones including Hadley, Ombersley, Holt and Hollington (from Staffordshire). Notable examples of use include; St John’s and All Saints Churches, Bromsgrove and Tardebigge Church.

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Derbyshire Stone (Namurian Sandstones)

Worcester Road Bridge built of Darley Dale grit (© Copyright Kevin Skidmore CC-by-SA 2.0)

Worcester Road Bridge built of Darley Dale grit (© Copyright Kevin Skidmore CC-by-SA 2.0)

Very coarse buff, pale orange or pink sandstones from the Namurian age Millstone Grit Formation of Derbyshire. They are often arkosic (have a high proportion of sand grains composed of the mineral feldspar rather than quartz) and are most recognisable by their extremely coarse grained sand and large bed/block heights.

The moors between the Derwent and the Derbyshire Coalfield have been important since at least the 13th Century as a source of abrasive stones. The toughness of the Millstone Grit also makes it ideal as a building stone used countrywide. The Ashover Grits are the most important unit, especially in terms of wider exports and account for extensive quarrying between Belper and Little Eaton. At Stancliffe (an isolated outcrop at Darley Dale), Whatstandwell (Dukes Quarry) and Stanton Moor the stone is particularly massively bedded and developed a national reputation for durability and attractiveness. Many quarries remain operational as of 2016.

Very coarse pinkish, cross-bedded grit from Darley Dale, most likely Birchover Quarry, was used for the 1930s reconstruction of Worcester Bridge.

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