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Quarries Old and New            

A 360 tracked excavatorThe County of Worcestershire has seen extensive quarrying over many years. Extraction has mainly taken place on sand and gravel (aggregate) river terraces, but smaller scale removal of limestone and other hard rock is also present.

Aggregates have been extracted predominantly along the Avon and Severn Valleys, but quarrying has also taken place along the Rivers Stour and Teme, and other water courses, where small pockets of these deposits are present. This type of quarrying has a very long history, with archaeological excavations on several sites revealing large irregular pits dug into sand and gravel deposits, and interpreted as evidence for mineral extraction, dated from the Roman period onwards.

Lindridge tithe map, northwest WorcestershireEvidence of quarrying becomes clearer in more recent history through documentary and cartographic (map) records. During the late 18th and 19th centuries many parishes had their own small sand and gravel pits, and these are often shown on tithe maps (for example, at Lindridge) and early editions of the Ordnance Survey. They can also be located through recorded field names of the time, obvious examples including ‘Sandpits’, ‘Parish Gravel Pit’ and ‘Quarry Pit Field’. Up until the middle of the 20th century these small quarries remained commonplace and were largely dug by hand, providing material for a local market. It was not until after the Second World War (1940 to 1945) that the regular use of machinery to extract the sand and gravel, enabled operations to grow to an industrial scale. This had the effect of reducing the number of quarries in operation, but made them much larger, with modern quarries typically covering many hectares.

Map of the county showing extracted, active and planned aggregate locationsStone quarrying, both historically and more recently, has created much smaller quarries in Worcestershire. Many old limestone quarries lie on and around Bredon Hill, and on other outcrops of oolitic limestone, for example at Cleeve Prior. These provided much of the local building stone used in the county from at least the Iron Age onwards, (500BC to 43AD) although today the only active stone quarry in the county is that at Fish Hill, just outside Broadway, in the far south-east corner of the county. Granite used to be quarried for roadstone in the Malvern area until recently, while Silurian limestone was also quarried in the Abberley Hills. However, both of these areas now lie within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and associated environmental constraints make it unlikely that any quarrying will be undertaken here in the future.

Our quarry stories are explored more fully, by area, on the accompanying pages.


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This page was last reviewed 15 May 2013 at 21:33.
The page is next due for review 11 November 2014.