Portland Stone

January 1, 201312:00 pmMay 26, 2016 9:07 am

This famous Upper Jurassic building stone is one of the most important in the country having been used for iconic buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Cenotaph. It is easily recognised by its pure white or grey colour – lacking the buff or orange tinges of Bath and Cotswold Stone – and its fine grained oolitic character. Its most common usage in Herefordshire and Worcestershire is for monuments, particularly war memorials.

Portland Stone facade of former bank in Worcester

There are three main beds used. The ooidal Whit Bed contains common shells, whereas the Base Bed is generally less shelly in character. The fossiliferous Roach Bed is the most distinctive of the Portland limestones as it exhibits large, open, biomoldic pore spaces. These relate to the leaching out of examples of the large gastropod Aptyxiella portlandica (known informally as the ‘Portland Screw’) and the bivalve Myophorella incurva (‘’Osses Heads”).

The stone was and still is quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, where there are 35 named quarries from which stone was loaded directly onto boats and exported countrywide. Only a few are still being worked.

Browse the database for sites using Portland Stone ->

Read more about Portland Stone on Wikipedia ->

Detailed article on the geology and stratigraphy of Portland Stone and the Isle of Portland ->

Portland Stone Details

Geological NamePortland Stone Formation
AgeUpper Jurassic (Tithonian: 152.1 ± 4 Ma to 145.0 ± 4 Ma)
Area of useHerefordshire & Worcestershire
Era of useMostly 19th Century and onwards
Written by Elliot Carter

Related Items

  • Crinoids in Wenlock Limestone ("Ledbury Marble") cobble, Ledbury

    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 […]

  • Aymestry Limestone, Gatley Park Folly, Leinthall Earls

    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 […]

  • Close-up of Ludlow Shales in Bank House, Leintwardine (copyright Scenesetters)

    Ludlow Shales

    Olive-blue-grey calcareous siltstones, silty mudstones and mudstones. From a building-stone perspective a classification for the Silurian strata based on rock type is most appropriate, not least because the best building stone yielded by this ‘series’ – the Aymestry Limestone – is diachronous and, in the north-west part of Herefordshire, tends to be variable in its […]

  • Blocky Bishops Frome Limestone, Black Bush Farm

    Bishop’s Frome Limestone

    A calcrete, formed within the soil horizon during the Devonian, this rubbly limestone occurs at the boundary between the Raglan Mudstone and St Maughans Sandstone and is not widely used for building. Some use is made in Bishop’s Frome but generally it has been exploited for lime-burning. It also forms an important source for tufa […]

  • Tufa

    A porous variety of limestone similar to travertine, formed by flowing water containing large amounts of dissolved calcium carbonate precipitating over moss and other vegetation. It is easy to saw when wet but dries to a strong, light building stone which is used wherever it is found. Notable areas of formation and use are the […]