Swaledale Fossil Stone


Swaledale Fossil Stone block

Swaledale is a typical limestone Yorkshire dale, with its narrow valley bottom and steep glacier-formed vale sides.  The dale takes its name from the River Swale which passes through the valley Eastward and is said to be the fastest flowing river in England.

Swaledale Fossil stone

This North Yorkshire dale has in turn given its name to one of the stones found there, the exceptional Swaledale Fossil Marble.

Blocks from the quarry

I’ve carved one or two very small pieces of it previously, and it is so beautiful and extraordinary that I went on a search to find some larger blocks to sculpt.  The rights to working the quarry are held with Britannicus Stone, who very kindly invited me to see the quarry and view the blocks they had recently pulled out.

Blocks of stone at the quarry

It was a wonderful morning.  I had a tour of the work sheds to see their current project in Swaledale Fossil coming to fruition. This stone collaboration with Dunhouse Quarry is for the design and making of a set of huge polished columns and capitals.  Everyone was so generous with their time and knowledge about this unusual stone.  Quarry visits are thrilling, stone excites something inside and creates such energy.  At one point though, we all stood still, in silence, looking down on the glorious wet fossil-rich stone surface.  In respect, and awe of it, I suppose.  Stone does that too – quietens and steadies.  It connects and reminds us of a deeply embedded primal chord.

Swaledale Fossil Stone surface

Now unloaded to the workshop, and ready, pieces for me to carve of the prized Swaledale Fossil Stone.  I’ll need to sharpen my chisels though, it is hard, only revealing its rare qualities through true and exacting labour.

Fossils on stone surface


Previous carvings in Swaledale Fossil Stone – Pebble Vases, Fossily Bird and Brume Bird


PS:  Here I am at the quarry.   Asking lots of questions of Paul, who is head of production at Britannicus Stone.  And marvelling at some sawn Swaledale Fossil Stone slabs.

at the quarry




Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *