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Portland Stone Quarrying

Quarrymen of Portland demonstrate hand harvesting of stone.

News 1963 3 mins

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Portland Stone is quarried using traditional methods by hand. White oolitic limestone slabs are lifted, moved and split using a hammer and chisel. Portland Stone is found on the Isle of Portland in Dorset and was mainly quarried to the north of the island, only later coming from the cliffs at Portland Bill. Since its discovery it has been used extensively in the construction industry in iconic landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.

Portland Stone is formed by a natural process of calcium carbonate covering the seabed in micrite or organic particles which become embedded after forming into balls. From the Greek meaning egg shaped the balls are known as ooliths and cement together to form oolithic Portland Stone. It is porous and easily carved by stonemasons. Mining quarries on Portland include Inosthay, Bowers, Coombefield, Perryfield and Broadcroft. Tout Quarry has been restored by the Portland and Quarry Trust which formed in 1983 to preserve the industrial heritage of Portland Stone. Dinosaur footprints and other fossils have also been found among the quarried stones. Just don't mention rabbits!