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Wenlock Limestone

Pale grey nodular or thinly bedded limestones. In character it varies markedly across the region. Examples from the Malvern Axis hills (Abberley, Suckley etc.), Ledbury and Woolhope Dome can be spectacularly fossiliferous, corresponding to reef bodies. During the Silurian water depth deepened towards open ocean to the west and around Ludlow the Wenlock limestone is a calcareous siltstone and rarely so fossiliferous as in the centre and east of Herefordshire.

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Ledbury Marble

A variety of Wenlock Limestone quarried in the hills above Ledbury, dark grey and highly fossiliferous, it can be polished as a decorative stone. The cobbles of Church Lane, Ledbury, are Wenlock Limestone of this type.

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All systems go!

Hello all,

The Building Stones team at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust is now at full complement and, having got the go ahead from the generous folks at the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are getting stuck into the project ahead of us.

A Thousand Years of Building with Stone  is a three-and-a-half year project looking at the everything from castles and bridges to parish churches, barns and cottages. We are aiming to trace the sources of the stone for these buildings and hopeful to rediscover some lost quarries, to engage the public with their local stone-built heritage and the geology that underpins the distinct regional character of towns and villages both in terms of landscape and built environment.

Elliot and Beth have been hard at work scouring the wilds of Herefordshire & Worcestershire for beautiful and varied stone buildings. We have just taken delivery of our first leaflet and now we have a shiny new blog and twitter account, so a lot of excitement is flying around right now, warming our spirits, if not our (currently arctic) office.

Over the coming weeks we will be actively seeking out interested parties, recruiting volunteers and bringing masonry, rock and fossil activities to a roadshow near you, so watch this space…

The Building Stones Team

About the project

Martley ChurchThe nature and history of the rocks below our feet not only shapes the distinct regional landscape we see around us but also influences what can grow, where settlements are established and what we build. From cottages to castles and from bridges to barns the stone built heritage of the region has, through the ages, represented an important link between the largely hidden world beneath our feet and our everyday lives.

However, much of the awareness and knowledge of our stone built heritage has been forgotten or lost over time. This places many buildings, central to the particular character of our towns and villages, at risk. We want to delve into the history and stories surrounding our stone-built heritage, reuniting important – though not necessarily grand – stone structures with the lost quarries from which the material was won and reasserting the importance of such buildings in our local heritage.

Significant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund means that the project is now underway and we are looking for people to become involved in uncovering and telling this story and recording it for the future.

We want to train volunteers to understand stone and record its uses in buildings, to search records, to uncover the stories of local people who worked with stone and to discover our lost quarries. If you are interested and wish to find out more about the project please contact us by email, phone or post or fill in the form here. There are a multitude of ways to get involved in the project. For more information see here.


Hollybush Sandstone

Cambrian age, dark green, flaggy, micaceous sandstone with abundant chlorite and glauconite. Only known use for building is in Hollybush Church.

Browse sites on the database using Hollybush Sandstone

Haffield Breccia

Close-up of Haffield Breccia in Haffield House Quarry

Close-up of Haffield Breccia in Haffield House Quarry

Unsorted clast-supported purple-red breccio-conglomerate, weakly cemented; clasts of igneous volcanic and Lower Palaeozoic lithologies.

Dug from Haffield House Quarry south of Ledbury and used for Haffield House. Also occurs on Abberley Hill and the Clent Hills (where it is known as Clent Breccia).

Browse sites on the database using Haffield Breccia

Downton Castle Sandstone

Thinly bedded yellow-brown or buff micaceous fine-grained sandstone with interbedded brown-grey siltstone and mudstone. The narrow bedding make the sandstone bands an excellent tilestone and, where the beds are thickest, freestone.

In the Mortimer Forest and other areas west of Ludlow, the Downton Castle Sandstone was an important dimension stone for lintels or more important ashlar buildings until comparatively recently when Grinshill Sandstone and others appear to have made it into the area.

As well as the Ludlow area, it was quarried from a narrow band in the hills above Ledbury and forms part of the detached church tower there, and similarly outcrops around the Woolhope Dome a brown coloured variety can be seen used in Mordiford. In Gorsley at the south-east extreme of Herefordshire a distinctive local variety, Gorsley Stone, is the main building material in the historic portion of the village.

Browse sites on the database using Downton Castle Sandstone

Grinshill Sandstone

Grey sandstone from the Triassic Helsby Sandstone Formation of North Shropshire. It is used sparsely in Herefordshire and Worcestershire from the 19th Century onwards, generally for dressings or additions to existing buildings. Easily recognised by the presence of pressure dissolution veins which appears as paler grey, slightly protruding veins, cross-cutting the rock surface. Examples include the north and south lodges to Shire Hall in Worcester and the buttresses to Leintwardine Church.

Browse the database for sites using Grinshill Sandstone->

Hollington Stone

Buff and red variants of Hollington Stone replacing blocks in a buttress on the NW wall of Worcester Cathedral.

Buff and red variants of Hollington Stone replacing blocks in a buttress on the NW wall of Worcester Cathedral.

A red Triassic sandstone from the Bromsgrove Sandstone Formation of Staffordshire, Hollington Stone (not be confused with the Hollington Formation also from Staffordshire) is one of the main commercially available red sandstones.

It is commonly used for modern repairs and replacements on red sandstone buildings whose original sources are no longer available. Examples include Worcester Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral (in both 19th Century rebuilding and 21st Century replacements) and Hartlebury Castle, Worcestershire. It is also seen as a dimension stone from the 19th Century onwards. Examples include Former Catholic Chapel, Kington and St Giles Church, Pipe Aston.

In colour it is a brownish red, pale buff or mottled between the two and the rock is almost has diffuse laminae in variable colours. Compared to local Bromsgrove Sandstones it is of a far less bright red and there is often a conspicuous sparkle to the stone in sunlight due to a recrystallised quartz cement. Recognisable by its characteristic buff mottling (if present) and the fine drapes of mud defining cross-bedding and lamination. Intraclasts of deep red mud are relatively common, as are small (<0.5cm) area of barytes cement which appear as white patches on the surface of the stone which stand proud when weathered.

As of 2014 it continues to be quarried from five quarries in a small area near the Staffordshire village of Hollington; Broadmoor Side Quarry, Great Gate Quarry, Horton, Redstone Quarry and Tearne Quarry.

Browse the database for sites using Hollington Stone->

Cotswold Stone

Working Mens Club, EveshamThe golden brown to cream stone that typifies Cotswold villages is a Jurassic oolitic limestone and occurs in an outcrop extending from Bath all the way to Lincoln. It is composed of ooids, small spherical or ovoid concretions of calcium carbonate formed in tropical seas far from sources of sediment. Shell fragments and other fossils are common although the most prized varieties are those lacking fossils. The iron-staining responsible for the depth of the orange colouring generally increases northwards. It can be difficult to confidently distinguish from Bath Stone of a similar age. An educated guess can be made on the quality of the stone and status of the building.

A small outlier of Cotswold Stone occurs on Bredon Hill and Broadway Quarry lies within the Southeastern extreme of Worcestershire. Nonetheless, Cotswold and Bath Stones are very ubiquitous across Herefordshire and Worcestershire; used for quoins, window sills and lintels and other dressings in rubble stone and brick constructions.

Browse the database for sites using Cotswold Stone->

Arden Sandstone

Large grey sandstone in Pendock Old Church tower

Large grey sandstone in Pendock Old Church tower

Fine- to medium-grained, variably coloured green, brown, buff and mauve sandstones with some beds of conglomerate which occur locally. Often cross-bedded with planar or trough-shaped laminations. Used locally along its outcrop which forms a rough E-W belt from Malvern Hills in west to Inkberrow in east. Local varieties include grey Inberrow Sandstone and grey to white Pendock Sandstone which is notably used in large blocks in the tower of Pendock Old Church.

Browse the database for sites using Arden Sandstone->