This beautiful and highly durable natural stone is called Forest Marble, and is a much sort after Cotswold stone and has been quarried in the West Country and the Cotswolds for hundreds of years for its building qualities. The stone is hard, durable, versatile, attractive and importantly water and frost resistant, making it ideal for building and landscaping stone.
The strength of the stone, its relative flatness, and the thinness of the the beds make the stone easy to work with. For the stonemasons, this means the work is easier, quicker and they are able to make the joints tighter - better job all round.
It is made up entirely of shells and fossils compressed for 140 million or so years, to produce one of the finest building materials available to man. Principally the stone is used for house building, extensions, renovations, retaining walls, garden walls, paving, landscaping and even roofing. It is highly versatile.
It is extensively used for natural stone walls from Northamptonshire through to Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire (in the Cotswolds it is called Cotswold Forest Marble), Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset and has made for some of the prettiest villages and towns in England,
Today, due to its attractiveness and its building qualities, this traditional stone is being used increasingly in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, London and throughout the UK.
The stone is produced on the Inwood Estate, which farms the lush idyllic pastures of the Blackmoor Vale and has one other diversification around glamping.
The limestone was first formed during the Jurassic period , some 140 million years ago when the tectonic plate holding Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire was at the same longitude as the Canary Islands today. The warm shallow seas produced an abundance of corals, shells and other marine life which died and built up huge deposits of calcium carbonate skeletal debris. Overtime, this has been compressed by succeeding layers of stone, to form the fossil rich and highly durable oolitic limestone we know today.
In 1799, William Smith was compiling a geological map of Britain and named the ollitic limestone, Forest Marble after the location of a Cotswold stone quarry to be found in the Wychwood Forest adjacent to Blenheim Park. William Smith had observed this pretty natural stone much in use in Bath and the surrounding villages of Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and Wiltshire.
Today Forest Marble has become iconic internationally with the pretty Cotswold villages such as Burford, Fairford, Badmington, Sherston, Stow-on-the-Wold. Although less well known, it has produced equally beautiful villlages in Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset. The stone varies slightly from one field to the next and is known by an array of different names of which Cotswold stone or Cotswold Forest Marble or straight Forest Marble are the most widely used.
Stalbridge Quarries is one of the last stone quarries left supplying Forest Marble in the West Country.
Phone Peter Thumwood, the Quarry Manager, for the best prices on 01963 364200.