New Project Website

This site is now in retirement. To visit our new website, replete with an all-singing, all-dancing interactive database of buildings and quarries, click the image below.

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Training Workshops Spring 2015

20140901_141702Unless otherwise stated booking is essential as places (or space) is limited on these events.To book your place please email building.stones@worc.ac.uk or call 01905 542014.


Thursday 29th January 10.00-4.00pm

Introduction to Geology

Come along for a whistle-stop tour of the local geology. This one day session is going to give you the basics, to help you understand the 700million years of geological history that has shaped Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Designed for beginners to help them get to grips with the wonderful rocks that built our towns and villages.

Venue: Forbury Chapel, Leominster


The Earth and Life Through Time – POSTPONED

This 7 week course offers an exploration of life on earth from its earliest beginnings, 3200 million years ago, through to the first human footsteps in East Africa. This course is being run by Ledbury WEA and costs £42 that will be refunded by the Building Stones project. This course has been postponed but do express interest and we will inform you when it is rescheduled.

Venue: Ledbury

For more details and booking information contact Beth or visit: www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk/ledbury-branch


Thursday 5th February 10.30-4.00pm

Terrific Trails

Come along to this one day session, run by Kate Measures, and find out what makes a great trail guide. The busy session will cover choosing the route, what to include and understanding the audience. We will be creating Building Stones trails around several of the clusters and this is a great way to be involved. Session includes lunch and refreshments. This is free for Building Stones volunteers but there is a £20 charge for all other attendees.

Venue: The Abbey Hotel, Malvern


Wednesday 11th February 1.30-4.30pm

Archive Support Session

If you want to use the archives but aren’t quite sure where to start then a dedicated archivist will be on hand all afternoon to help you with your research. The session is a drop-in but it helps if we know you are coming and have a rough idea of which building, quarry or person you are interested in and the archivist will guide you through the process, help you with the forms and make sure that you are getting the most out of the archives.

Venue: Explore the Past, The Hive, Worcester


Thursday 26th February 10.00-3.00pm

Building Recording at Goodrich

Join the Building Stones team for some building recording in Goodrich. If you aren’t sure what data to collect, want to know more about the geology or just want to visit this pretty village then this could be for you.

Venue: Goodrich


Tueday 3rd March 2.00-3.30pm

Behind the Scenes at the Hive

Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service stores over 12 miles of archives relating to the county, including treasures such as William Shakespeare’s marriage bond, a letter written on board the Titanic and the visitor book signed by Her Majesty the Queen. Come along to see areas not open to the public including strong rooms and archaeology work rooms.

Venue: The Hive, Worcester


Wednesday 11th March 10:30-4pm

Interpretation for Beginners

Come along and find out the tips and tricks to help spread the word about your research. All of the research and information gathered during the project will need to be shared and this is a great chance to learn how best to do it. This session includes lunch and refreshments.

Venue: The Cube, Malvern


Wednesday March 18th 10.00-12.00noon

Finding People

The many people who helped quarry, move and build with stone all helped to create our built heritage. This session will look at different ways in which you can find out about these often hard to trace individuals and help bring their story to life.

Venue: The Hive, Worcester


Database and Drop-in sessions

To help everyone learn how to use the new database we are holding drop-in sessions at venues across both counties. Come along and have a guided tour of the website with Elliot. Beth will be on hand to chat about the research, provide forms, make suggestions, demonstrate the British Newspaper Archive and will have copies of all of the new volunteer factsheets. There is no need to book and tea and biscuits will be provided. If you need directions to any venue do get in touch.

Wednesday 4th February 10.00-2.00pm

Leominster, Grange Court, Education Room

 

Friday 13th February 10.00-2.00pm

Ross-on-Wye, Larruperz Centre, Room 5

Tuesday 17th February 10.00-2.00pm

Kidderminster Library, Small Meeting Room

Thursday 19th February 12.30-4.30pm

Malvern, The Cube, Meeting Room


A (Very) Short History of the Bromsgrove Sandstone

Here at Building Stones HQ we are busily putting together an exhibition to coincide with our upcoming roadshow at Avoncroft Museum 26th-28th August. Here’s sneak peak of some of the research going into that, much of which draws upon the Reverend Alan White’s excellent historical paper on the Bromsgrove quarrying and brickmaking industry.

St Johns Church, Bromsgrove

St John’s Church, Bromsgrove, C12th-C15th, built from local Bromsgrove Sandstone

The Bromsgrove Sandstone was formed in a desert on the supercontinent Pangaea, during the Triassic, roughly 250 million years old. However in the interests of making this a very short history we are going to ignore the first 249,999,750 years of its history and start our story just 250 years ago.

Bromsgrove is possibly best known for the nail making industry that flourished there in the late 18th century, employing over 900 nailers by 1778 (Victoria County History, 1913, para 15), however it also had a long and illustrious although now largely forgotten industry of quarrying for building stone.

Notes about the parish written for a Society for Antiquities questionairre in 1774 state “We have…an excellent kind of sandstone in diverse parts of the parish…it is easily got out by manual labour…and it is easily worked, but being exposed to the air it becomes hard and durable as witness the church and tower at Bromsgrove thought to have been built about the beginning of the Reign of Edward the Third and yet there is not one stone that appears in the lesat to be perished”.

Due to the occurence of such high quality beds of building stone there, Bromsgrove has given its name not just to those particular beds of Triassic sandstone – wherever they occur nationally – but also to an extinct dinosaur relative found in the Bromsgrove Sandstone Formation in Warwickshire.

For a town so blessed with natural building resources Bromsgrove is not conspicuous for its use of stone. Nonetheless there are numerous examples, many of them ancient, of the stone’s use in and around the town. These include the aforementioned St John’s Parish Church, Grafton Manor, the churches of Upton Warren, Stoke Prior and Tardebigge. More recently – from 1858 to 1907 – All Saints, North Bromsgrove, St Godwalds, Finstall, Dodford Church and St Peters RC Chuch utilised the stone, in the lattermost case reportedly from a working in what is now the graveyard. According to White, census records show an explosion in the numbers of quarry workers from 1870 onwards, likely driven by the demands of church building and compounded by the fashion for imposing stone boundary walls around the Victorian villas built around this time.

The early ordnance survey maps of Bromsgrove’s Hill Top and Rock Hill areas give us a fascinating insight into a changing landscape at the turn of the century.

1885

1885 Ordnance Survey map scanned and georeferenced with quarry boundaries and tracks highlighted.

In 1885-6 when the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey “County Series” were being produced the maps reveal an active area of quarrying for the Bromsgrove Sandstone. Some quarries like Millfield (north of Fox Lane) had already lapsed and, although details of the face and trackways can still be seen, over the 40 years to the 2nd revision of the maps in 1927 we can see they are steadily filled in and built over with houses (later to be the victims of severe subsidence). Similarly the large wooded rectangular quarry south of Hill Top appears to have been partially filled and levelled to give a terrace for the building of the Isolation Hospital. Meanwhile many new delves are opening nearby. Several nascent workings from Hill Top to east of the hospital of  Fox Lane, and one at Rock Hill can be seen on the 1885 map and we can chart their expansion over the succeeding 40 years.

1903

1903 Ordnance Survey map showing the expansion and contraction of quarries since 1885.

While for the most part all traces of this once flourishing industry have dissapeared they have left a lasting, if largely hidden, legacy in the streets garden of the area. Many of the old access trackways have had their courses preserved as modern streets and passageways. These include Quarry Lane, Forelands Grove, the road and footpath from Fox Lane to Carnoustie Close and the alleyway between Rock Hill and Enfield Close.

1927

1927 Ordnance Survey showing nearly the maximum extent reached by most of the quarries.

Remains of the quarries themselves are sparser but there are large hollows still in the overgrown area and gardens south of Hill Top. The original worked sandstone face can still be seen along the north edge of Forelands Grove and indeed the entire block of houses along the street follows precisely the boundaries of the old quarry.

In this way the industry that once worked the earth here has left its hidden mark on the neighbourhoods that have succeeded it.

We will be running rock and fossil activities for all ages at Avoncroft Museum 10:30-17:00, Tuesday 26th-Thursday28th August.

For admission charges and museum opening times please visit http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/visit-us/.

Building Stones Training Workshops, Spring 2014

The Building Stones team are very excited to announce our Spring 2014 Programme of training and workshops for our volunteers.

All events are free for volunteers on the Building Stones project but booking is essential. To book please email building.stones@worc.ac.uk or phone: 01905 542014.

If you would like to volunteer on the project you can sign up here or contact us at the above email or phone number.

Click the map below to see a larger map of how to find us:EHT, Woodbury Room 10, Univeristy of Worcester, Henwick Grove

 

Spring 2014 Training Workshops

Friday May 9th, 10.00-1.00pm

Describing Building Stones

Join Kate Andrew for a practical session looking at Building Stones in Ledbury. This short session will involve looking at the different building stones to be found in Ledbury and using them as examples to fill in our new Building Stone Recording Forms.

Where: Burgage Hall, Ledbury.

 

Friday 16th May, 2.00-4.00pm

Tool Marks on Building Stones

Meet Chris Guy, Worcester Cathedral Archaeologist, for a fascinating look at the different styles of tool marks on building stones found around Worcester Cathedral and what these marks can tell us about dating worked stone.

Where: Worcester Cathedral.

 

Wednesday 21st May 1:00-5:30pm

Reading the Landscape

Join Archaeologist, Rob Hedge and discover the secrets of the landscape, spot the tell-tale marks of quarrying and learn how to identify the remains of them within the landscape.

Where: Hartlebury Common.

 

Thursday 5th June, 1.30-4.30pm

Building with Stone in Worcester

James Dinn, Archaeological Officer with Worcester City Council, will guide you through the history of building within Worcester, and sources available for study, followed by a visit to some of the city centre buildings as well.

Where: Worcester Guildhall.

 

Tuesday 10th June 10.00-1.00pm &

2.00-4.00pm

Using the Building Recording Forms

If you would like a hand using our new “In the Field” recording forms or using our spreadsheet then come along to our drop in session on filling in the forms. Elliot and Beth will be on hand to go through the sheets using samples and examples and will offer any support we can. No booking needed, just pop in for a chat.

Where: Geological Records Centre, Woodbury Building, University of Worcester.

 

Wednesday 18th June, 1.30-4.30pm

Resources for historic building research – Worcester City Historic Environment Record

Using case studies of buildings in Worcester, Sheena Payne-Lunn the Historic Environment Record (HER) Officer at Worcester City Council will demonstrate how the HER can be used to research the history of buildings.

Where: Worcester Guildhall.

Earth Caches vs. Floods

Our very first Earth Cache on building stones around Bewdley went up online for the first time earlier this month and we are (justifiably) excited.Bewdley bridge and church

For the uninitiated among you, an Earth Cache is a high tech hybrid of a treasure hunt and a game of I-spy in which basically, you must go to a specified location and search for something interesting. On your return home you must answer a series of questions to show that you have found the features and “log” your visit.

Our geocache guru Dave has been amazing, researching and drafting the information and questions to be accepted by the governing body – the Geological Society of America .  Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s now busily working on two new sites in the Malverns.

Despite going live at a time at which Bewdley was, to all intents and purposes, a town besieged by the Severn, since going online the cache webpage has had 70 visitors, from as far afield as the US, and 3 hardy souls have already logged visits, braving floods, pumps and swans where swans ought not to be.

Meanwhile many of us have been having interesting commutes involving wellies, shuttle buses, convoy systems and mile-long tail backs. However breaking, and as yet unconfirmed, reports are reaching us of a lack of icy wind and rain and of the sun feeling slightly warm in Worcester today, so perhaps brighter skies are ahead.

UPDATE: The Bewdley Earth Cache has now been completed by 5 intrepid people and the page visited by just under 90.

A modern masterpiece

Ooilitic Limestone Batik paintingAfter the tireless efforts of nearly 500 children and adults last month, we’re very happy to have one of the finished masterpieces hanging proudly on the wall of the project office. The second piece is currently on display in Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum and can be viewed in the Old Library space. We’d all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to visit the Museum over half term and make it such a fun event to run, not to mention to the wonderful volunteers, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible.

When fossils minerals and art collide

Just a quick heads up to publicise the fact that from tomorrow we will be staging a wonderful rock and fossil roadshow at the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum as part of the Big Draw: a glourious hodgepodge of mineral, microscopes, fossils, art and of course stone built heritage.

Museum Display Oct 2013There are activities to interest all ages, all completely free, including the chance to get your hands on a microscope, badge making, fascinating specimens and displays, not to mention plenty of opportunity for drawing, sculpting or colouring in.

The event will run daily 11:00am-4:00pm,Tuesday 29th Oct – Friday 1st Nov.

See here for more details.

Autumn Training Courses

Autumn Training Courses 2013Update: All courses for Autumn 2013 have finished. We are currently planning workshops and events for Spring 2014 and these will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.

We are very excited to announce our Autumn 2013 Programme of training and workshops for our volunteers.

Over the coming weeks the building stones project will be offering a series of training courses aimed at developing  research skills for our Building Stones volunteers. So if you were hovering on the fence, get in touch, or if you’ve already taken the plunge, then sign up for the next session – A Hive of Information – below.

All events are free for volunteers on the Building Stones project but booking is essential. To book use the form below or alternatively, email: building.stones@worc.ac.uk or phone: 01905 542014.

Sessions include: Using the Hive Archives, A Beginners Guide to Geology and Building Stones, Getting Started in Archival Research, The Census for Buildings Research and Fossils for Beginners, see the section below for full details and booking form.

If you would like to volunteer on the project you can sign up here or contact us at the above email or phone number.

Update: due to unforseen circumstances the date of the Intergenerational Learning course has had to be moved to Tuesday October 15th.

Course Details

U3A Visit to Loxter Quarry


Saturday 26th October, 10.00-4.00pm
Introduction to Geology and Building Stones – Worcestershire
This whistle-stop session is going to give you the basics, to help you understand the 700million years of geological history that has shaped Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Designed for beginners to help them get to grips with the wonderful rocks that built our towns and villages.
Where: Bredon Norton Village Hall


Sunday 10th November, 10-4pm
Beginners Guide to fossils – Fossil Casting
This practical workshop is a chance to meet some of the fossils found around Herefordshire and Worcestershire, help you identify them when out and about and understand what life was like in the past. The highlight, weather permitting, will be fossil hunting in Whitman’s Hill Quarry – one of the best regional locations for fossils. There will also be a fossil casting session.
Where: Storridge Village Hall


Thursday 14th November, 10-4pm
Introduction to Geology and Building Stones – Herefordshire
This whistle-stop session is going to give you the basics, to help you understand the 700million years of geological history that has shaped Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Designed for beginners to help them get to grips with the wonderful rocks that built our towns and villages.
Where: Forbury Chapel, Leominster


Friday 22nd November, 12.30-17.00pm
A Beginners guide to Building Recording
Muddled by Mullions? Can’t tell your Ashlar from you attic? Then this half day practical session looking at historic buildings is for you. This beginners guide to Building Recording is Designed to give you an introduction to building styles and terminology with a hands on session on recording the beautiful Pershore Abbey.
Where: St Andrews church, Pershore

Note: All courses for Autumn 2013 have finished. We are currently planning workshops and events for Spring 2014 and these will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.

A Fair Old Washout

Two dry stone wallers at workThe start of August saw the Building Stone team and a crack squad of volunteers descend on the Herefordshire County Fair at Hampton Court Gardens near Leominster and in time honored British-Summer fashion, it tipped it down. It wasn’t enough to ruin our spirits though and we made a good day of it; showing off examples of local buildings stones, making castle badges with kids and sometimes just offering a welcome shelter from the rain. 

Beth sums up the weather

Along with the volunteers who manfully braved the wet and the cold, the stars of the show were our special guest dry-stone wallers – Wayne Rosser, Dave Harris and mastermind Maurice Morgan – who in the course of a 5 hour session erected a beautifully constructed wall in local red Herefordshire stone.

And to cap of a day that was all about triumph in the face of adversity every one of our cars managed to battle out of the quagmire that was the car field sending us on our way cold, wet but satisfied.


That wall as it was built:

(and certainly not a slideshow cynically crudely together from photos of people disassembling a wall)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

To Three Counties Show, And Beyond

The last few weeks have been very much action packed as volunteers start to sign up  the hulking engine of information builds up steam and pulls out of the station, like a benevolent GCHQ. And the cruel irony of this is that no one has had the time to spare to get on here and tell anyone about it so far.

Last month we were busy manning our stall at the Three Counties Show. Not only did we have a great time, some lovely weather and fantastic views of the precambrian Malvern Hills, we also avoided having our marquee blown clean over a lorry and mangled in a field – something our neighbours were not so lucky with.Build-a-wall, bunting and Mark our resident stonemason

Despite the kilometers of bunting Kate feverishly trailed round our tent, the star of the show was a build-a-wall activity for kids with real stone, water-soluble mortar and trowels the size of your thumb. Many a harried schoolteacher shed a silent tear of joy as their fifty-strong gang of Dennis the Menaces instantaneously switched to playing mute Bob the Builder. Never say we don’t spread joy here at the Earth Heritage Trust.

The other star who needs to be mentioned was Mark Hamblin, our resident stone mason for the weekend. Without any obvious effort, over the three days he breezed through carving a beautiful red sandstone gargoyle all the while providing visitors to the tent with the spectacle of a block of rock slowly transforming itself into a dragon, chip by chip.

One of Mark's conservation projects

More recently, as the weather has improved, Elliot has been seen progressively less and less outdoors, only emerging occasionally from behind a towering stack of computing manuals to mutter something unintelligible about data import. Yes, work has begun on a working database in which to house, for the time being, the information starting to come in from our intrepid volunteers. Like all things, it’s satisfying when it goes right but there have been more than a few occasions that have been more like the artists impression below.

Looking further ahead, Beth is hard at work planning the training courses for the autumn, meeting and signing up volunteers and getting people out and about looking at buildings and archives in the gloriously unusual English sunshine. So if you want to get involved, please do get in contact and if you’ve already taken the plunge then watch this space over the next month for details of the exciting courses we’ll be offering our volunteers.