1000 Years of Building with Stone

A major project successfully completed including a a map-based database

building stone project clusters

Geology information copyright British Geological Survey

Geological succession in Herfordshire and Worcestershire

A wide range of successful outcomes

The aim of this project was to rediscover lost knowledge of our stone built heritage in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. We delved into the history and stories surrounding our stone-built heritage. We reunited important – though not necessarily grand – stone structures with the lost quarries from which the material was won. Thus we were able to reassert the importance of such buildings in our local heritage.

The delivery phase of this project ran between 2013 and 2017, led by a project team of three.  The project successfully trained and worked with 191 volunteers. This engagement of local people was a distinct difference and advantage compared with other projects that have examined stone heritage.

The project delivered the following four outcomes:

  • Raised awareness and appreciation of local stone, providing people with a sense of place
  • Re-discovered local building stone quarries
  • Researched the skills, techniques and people involved in exploiting this resource
  • Created a database linking stone to quarries and particular buildings

With ten geological periods represented in the two counties and stone buildings dating from the 10th to 21st centuries, the crowd-sourced work concentrated on 18 cluster areas chosen on the basis of bedrock type and availability of stone. The distribution of clusters has resulted in a representative ‘flavour’ of the building stone types across the two counties rather than blanket coverage.

Data collected was entered onto an innovative web-based database, supported by resources to assist project volunteers and others interested in building stone and blogs.  The web database will continue to be available until at least 2024.  Data has also been transferred to the two county Historic Environmental Records.  Fifty-two people contributed to the data entry, recording 4360 mainly vernacular buildings and 618 building stone quarries.  Before the project started, only two working building stone quarries and a few delves were known about and very few stone buildings were linked to their quarry sources.

The main project funder was The National Heritage Lottery fund with matched funding from Arts Council England, Wye Valley AONB, Bransford Trust, Malvern AONB, Cllrs Pollock, Hardman, Mallet and Cummings, Forest of Dean Stone Companies, Waitrose Community Fund and income from events, lectures and guided walks.  Many (8766) hours of volunteer time were contributed, with 85 volunteers contributing long term to the project. A very busy event and activity programme reached 28,929 people!

The research, quarry and building recording allowed nine EarthCaches to be created,and four new building stones trail guides  published for Bromsgrove, Hereford, Bromyard and Malvern Spouts and Stones.

A peer-reviewed paper published in Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association dealt with approaches to try to distinguish between the local variation in buildings stone types of Bromyard, using hand held X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry.  This technique has been further developed, on the historic Charterhouse in Coventry, since the project.

The research of the commissioning, design and construction of an unrecorded First World War memorial at Hereford Cathedral was the subject of a second peer reviewed paper in the Woolhope Transactions and resulted in a moving service on the centenary of the death of the soldiers memorialized n December 2017.

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