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Project Update – Winter 2013

Volunteer Time'o'meterThe Building Stones Team have had a very busy autumn running our first series of training courses. We hope that our newly inspired and trained volunteers are spending the colder winter months in libraries and archives discovering the stories behind our buildings. Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to catch one, we are already putting together our next events programme, details will be in the spring newsletter.

If you have a question about your research or need some suggestions to help get you started with your research why not come along to our new drop-in sessions:

Our volunteers have also been making the most of the warm sunny days, out photographing and recording stone buildings across the two counties.

To date we have recorded a wonderful 1173 hours of volunteering time by Building Stones volunteers, worth £17168. Every hour of work our volunteers contribute helps towards our target of 13,244 hours. For every hour of recorded volunteer time, we receive £5.39 towards the project but for every hour without a timesheet we effectively lose £5.39 so keep those timesheets flowing in!

A modern masterpiece

Ooilitic Limestone Batik paintingAfter the tireless efforts of nearly 500 children and adults last month, we’re very happy to have one of the finished masterpieces hanging proudly on the wall of the project office. The second piece is currently on display in Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum and can be viewed in the Old Library space. We’d all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to visit the Museum over half term and make it such a fun event to run, not to mention to the wonderful volunteers, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible.

When fossils minerals and art collide

Just a quick heads up to publicise the fact that from tomorrow we will be staging a wonderful rock and fossil roadshow at the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum as part of the Big Draw: a glorious hodgepodge of mineral, microscopes, fossils, art and of course stone built heritage.

Museum Display Oct 2013There are activities to interest all ages, all completely free, including the chance to get your hands on a microscope, badge making, fascinating specimens and displays, not to mention plenty of opportunity for drawing, sculpting or colouring in.

The event will run daily 11:00am-4:00pm,Tuesday 29th Oct – Friday 1st Nov.

See here for more details.

Project Update Autumn 2013

EHT Roadshow StallIt has been a busy start to our new project ‘A Thousand Years of Building with Stone’ but we are now fully up and running.

During spring we had stands at the Knapp and Papermill and Tiddesley Wood events, organised by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. Beth and Elliot both had a great time and were very grateful for the help and patience of the volunteers who assisted us at our first events with EHT.

Then, our marquees were tested against the weather at the Three Counties show, and narrowly avoided being hit by a fly-away tent during a particularly windy set-up day. At the event itself our new ‘Build-A-Wall’ activity proved a hit with both young and not-so-young visitors. We are especially grateful to Mark and Esme Hamblin who provided a wonderful demonstration of stone masonry. Lots of people were very impressed as a dragon gargoyle emerged from a stand stone block, it really added to our launch of the Building Stones project.

In August we had a very wet day at the Herefordshire Country Show at Hampton Court. Despite the terrible weather the dry-stone walling demonstration attracted lots of admiration and brought over 300 people to our stand. Many thanks to all of our tough volunteers who helped out despite the rain, especially our wallers Maurice, Dave and their assistant Wayne.

Against this backdrop of events we’ve had 40 people so far, getting involved in Building Stone research in 10 different clusters. This has resulted in a torrent of new data to keep Elliot busy. Volunteers have taken advantage of the wonderful weather this summer to make a start in recording and photographing the wealth of stone buildings in our cluster areas across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The number of buildings brought to light is far in excess of that imagined and has really excited the whole team about the possibilities for further research. Thank you to our exploratory photographers and keep those photos and records coming in, every new batch is full of surprises!

The building stones team has been busy putting together an autumn training programme for volunteers. These introductory sessions are designed to help develop research skills and suggest new ideas on methods and places to reveal the secrets of our built heritage, not to mention those elusive lost quarries. These are free for all project volunteers but places are limited so reserve yours quickly.

If you would like to volunteer on the project then please contact Sue Knox by email at [email protected] or phone 01905 542014.

This article originally appeared in the A Thousand Years of Building with Stone Volunteer Newsletter.


The following is a list of useful online resources encompassing all aspects of the project from built heritage to geology. We will be significantly updating and adding to this over the coming weeks and with a comprehensive list of paper and archive resources too. If you know of any priceless online sources, be it census data or a brilliant web map do get in touch.


Looking at Buildings – a good site for explaining architectural and historical terms with sections on styles of building, types of building and a detailed glossary.

Heritage Gateway – search the Historic Environment Records by time, type, location or keywords. You can also choose to search in specific HERs only.

Gatehouse – incredibly detailed and exhaustive gazetteer and bibliography of medieval castles, fortifications and palaces in the UK.

British Listed Buildings – online database of all listed buildings and structures. Can be easier to use than Heritage Gateway, you can also view the location on a map, and, where possible, see it in Google Streetview.

The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture– An electronic archive of romanesque sculpture and buildings in Britain with descriptions, photographs and church plans where available. . Can be browsed by county or searched by location or type. Good for researching churches

Geology and Quarries

Cribsheet for Building Stones – this is a table summarising the key information for the most common stone types used in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Earth Heritage Trust – a lot of information available on the geological succesions in Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Geology of the UK – a simplified geological map and timescale by Keele University

Strategic Stone Study – a representative but incomplete database of stone buildings, quarries and building stones for the whole UK. Locations of buildings and quarries can be queried on a web map or there are atlases available for each county.

Sand Atlas – a very good reference for rock types and minerals explained in brief plain term.

Rock Library (Imperial College London) – goes a bit more in depth than the above with resources to identify rock and minerals via a series of questions, tutorials on various aspects of geology and mineralogy and an excellent glossary.

British Slate Forum – a good set of articles on the geology and industry of Welsh, Scottish and Cornish Slate.

Penarth Alabaster – Book by Michael Statham about the South Wales alabaster quarries and it’s uses in high status building across Wales and England including the Midlands. The book is available for free as a PDF file.

Cradley Stone – a report on the geology, quarry and quarry-men of Cradley Stone at the Ridgeway Cross Quarry.

Malvern Hills Narrow Gauge Railway – an article on the railways used to transport quarried material (mainly aggregate) out of the Malvern Hills quarries in the early 20th centenary. This article has lots of information on the quarry operations and charming black and white photos.

Hollybush Sandstone and Arden Sandstone – a technical report from John Payne, comparing the Hollybush and Arden Sandstones from the Hollybush Church.

Malvern Hills Building Stones –  A poster researched by Building Stones team members based on a multi-disciplinary study combining historic maps, fieldwork, archival sources and thin section petrology, revealing changing patterns of stone use with time.

Goodrich – an illustrated and informative report on the history of stone use in Goodrich, Heredfordshire. And a summary of the stone type in Goodrich is found here.


Where’s The Path – our favourite web map extravaganza with side by side aerial photos and ordnance survey maps and options to show geology, old OS map, and more.

British Geological Survey – the best for viewing geology online, click on any part of the map to get an explanation of the bedrock and deposits at that point.

Historic Geological Maps – again from the BGS, scans of the 1:63,360 Old Series geological maps searchable and viewable online.

1940s Ordnance Survey Maps – a web map viewer with good coverage of 1940s-1950s ordnance survey maps.

1781 Map of Worcester city parish – this map was found in The Hive Library by our archive researcher

1651 Vaughan map of Worcester –  this old map of Worcester was discovered by a Building Stones volunteer through archive research in The Hive.

Old photos and Social History

Geograph – a very good source for recent photos searchable by grid reference or keywords.

Domesday Reloaded –  the recently published results of a 1986 BBC project to record a snapshot of everyday life across the UK. Features photos and short written memoirs that can be searched by content and location. Not very user friendly but a lot of information to be had. Look for ‘Search the Domesday Site’ and check the box marked content to find photos and articles.

Old UK Photos – a great source to look for old photos of towns. Coverage isn’t universal but there are a good number of photos of most towns.

FreeCEN – an ongoing project to digitise 1841-1891 census data and make it freely available online, Herefordshire only and quite incomplete.

Quarrymen of Bromsgrove and surrounding area – a collection of people involved in the quarrying industry, discovered by a Building Stones volunteer through archival research.

The Human Cost of Getting Stone – this is a report, written by a Building Stones project volunteer, about the employment and safety in quarries in Herefordshire and Worcestershire between 1894 and 1914.

Herefordshire Stone Masons – a collated list of skilled stone masons working in Herefordshire in the 19th century. These names were listed in Pigot’s Directory.

Croome Court – casual disbursements and the calculated equivalent modern costs of labour.

The Builder Magazine – is a periodical with article and advertisements relating to quarrying, masonry, building, and the people and firms involved. We have clippings for the following years: 1856, 1858, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1911, 1912, 1917.

City of Hereford Poll– An alphabetical list of the poll for the City of Hereford at the General Election in 1818, showing names and occupations of voters.


Wikipedia – Increasingly reliable and very good for some subjects. In general content is accurate but incomplete.

Google – when in doubt, bite the bullet and google it.



A Fair Old Washout

Two dry stone wallers at workThe start of August saw the Building Stone team and a crack squad of volunteers descend on the Herefordshire County Fair at Hampton Court Gardens near Leominster and in time honored British-Summer fashion, it tipped it down. It wasn’t enough to ruin our spirits though and we made a good day of it; showing off examples of local buildings stones, making castle badges with kids and sometimes just offering a welcome shelter from the rain. 

Beth sums up the weather

Along with the volunteers who manfully braved the wet and the cold, the stars of the show were our special guest dry-stone wallers – Wayne Rosser, Dave Harris and mastermind Maurice Morgan – who in the course of a 5 hour session erected a beautifully constructed wall in local red Herefordshire stone.

And to cap of a day that was all about triumph in the face of adversity every one of our cars managed to battle out of the quagmire that was the car field sending us on our way cold, wet but satisfied.

That wall as it was built:

(and certainly not a slideshow crudely thrown together from photos of people disassembling a wall)



To Three Counties Show, And Beyond

The last few weeks have been very much action packed as volunteers start to sign up  the hulking engine of information builds up steam and pulls out of the station, like a benevolent GCHQ. And the cruel irony of this is that no one has had the time to spare to get on here and tell anyone about it so far.

Last month we were busy manning our stall at the Three Counties Show. Not only did we have a great time, some lovely weather and fantastic views of the precambrian Malvern Hills, we also avoided having our marquee blown clean over a lorry and mangled in a field – something our neighbours were not so lucky with.Build-a-wall, bunting and Mark our resident stonemason

Despite the kilometers of bunting Kate feverishly trailed round our tent, the star of the show was a build-a-wall activity for kids with real stone, water-soluble mortar and trowels the size of your thumb. Many a harried schoolteacher shed a silent tear of joy as their fifty-strong gang of Dennis the Menaces instantaneously switched to playing mute Bob the Builder. Never say we don’t spread joy here at the Earth Heritage Trust.

The other star who needs to be mentioned was Mark Hamblin, our resident stone mason for the weekend. Without any obvious effort, over the three days he breezed through carving a beautiful red sandstone gargoyle all the while providing visitors to the tent with the spectacle of a block of rock slowly transforming itself into a dragon, chip by chip.

One of Mark's conservation projects

More recently, as the weather has improved, Elliot has been seen progressively less and less outdoors, only emerging occasionally from behind a towering stack of computing manuals to mutter something unintelligible about data import. Yes, work has begun on a working database in which to house, for the time being, the information starting to come in from our intrepid volunteers. Like all things, it’s satisfying when it goes right but there have been more than a few occasions that have been more like the artists impression below.

Munch - The Scream


Looking further ahead, Beth is hard at work planning the training courses for the autumn, meeting and signing up volunteers and getting people out and about looking at buildings and archives in the gloriously unusual English sunshine. So if you want to get involved, please do get in contact and if you’ve already taken the plunge then watch this space over the next month for details of the exciting courses we’ll be offering our volunteers.

Getting Involved

We are always looking for people to engage with their local stone built heritage and to help us discover and tell the stories of our lost quarries. Below are just some of the reasons you might be interested in volunteering. Click on “more” to read about typical volunteer tasks. Note however that if there is something you want to research about an aspect of buildings, stone or quarrying then let us know. If you are interested and wish to be kept informed of the project and events or wish to volunteer on the project please fill in the form here or alternatively contact us by phone, email or post.

General Interest

Many of our volunteers have never given stone, or historic buildings a moments thought before getting involved with the project. There are a multitude of ways to get involved in the project, including helping at events, cataloguing and proof reading.


Local History

Exploring and uncovering the history, variation and movement of stone can make you see your local area in a whole new light. Whether you'd like to get out and explore or hunker down in the archives, and whatever your experience we'd be glad of your help.



If you have an eye for stone then we can put you to work recording the stone in buildings, surveying lost quarries or helping to interpret thin sections. We can also provide training and support to further your geological knowledge.


Roadshows, mail-outs and many more site visits

Its been a busy month with the Building Stones team. With – as the post title suggests – a heady mix of public events, letter writing and reconnaissance of the two counties’ innumerable lovely towns and villages.

Beth has been presiding over a Herculean effort to make contact with the 500-or-so of you who asked to be informed of the project and it was with a fevered brow and a wild, far-off look in her eyes that last week she sealed and posted the last envelope. If you asked to be kept informed you should be hearing from us very soon. Needless to say, if for some reason you don’t hear from us please do let us know so we can sort any issues out and keep you involved.

All three of us have been out and about at shows and open days this month with the (just-about) portable funhouse of pop-up information that is the EHT roadshow stall with help from some of our lovely volunteers. Perhaps unsurprisingly the activities we have been offering have leant toward Building Stones with a selection of the fascinating rocks that have been used for building – among them; fossiliferous Aymestry Limestone, Cotswold Stone, coal-bearing sandstone and red Triassic desert sandstones – as well as a popular children’s quiz. What’s been really lovely to see is just how interested people have found these specimens and the positive reaction we’ve had to the project in general, from almost everyone we’ve spoken to.

Elliot and Beth have meanwhile been continuing their efforts to admire every stone-built cottage, bridge and barn between the Cotwolds and Black Mountains. Visiting the Golden Valley back in April was a particular highlight, with snow still on the ground, miles of single-track lanes and a forgotten castle seemingly at every turn. More recently there have been visits to Pershore, the villages of Bredon Hill and Croome Court which has a lovely range of stones used around the estate including Holocene tufa with fossilised reeds and moss. A brilliant trip down the Severn Valley Railway to see the quarries and buildings associated with this famous remnant of the industrial revolution capped the month off in fine form despite a rather rainy day.

The coming months are shaping up to be even more busy and exciting with the Three Counties Show looming and Geofest 2013 kicking off on May 31st. And with interest in volunteering and the project flooding in, like the Wye into a Hereford carpark, we should soon be cracking on with the main thrust of the project, discovering lost quarries and stories along the way.

Forest Pennant Site Visit

Royal Forest Pennant QuarryYesterday Beth and Kate spent a wonderful morning with Nick from Forest Pennant Natural Stone Products, in the Forest of Dean (  We had a tour of the Stone Yard and saw the local stone being turned from 10 tonne blocks into sheets, stones, and sculptures by the highly skilled workforce.  This was followed by an exciting visit to their quarry to see the stone in its natural setting.  The variety of colours was amazing, it was great to see the whole process from quarry to product and Kate even managed to find a few fossil tree ferns.

We want to thank everyone for being so friendly and showing us round and look forward to working with Forest Pennant again in the future.