Quarr Lane

Quarr Lane Open Space, Sherborne. Inferior Oolite SY 636 175

Quarr Lane clearance
The two remaining disused quarries in Quarr Lane, Sherborne are the last-worked in a series on the north side of Sherborne. Stone has been quarried here since the 12th century to build the old castle, the Abbey and the town of Sherborne.

The Sherborne Building Stone is present in several thick beds of limestone that have provided ashlar and worked stone for all types of building. The Rubbly Beds above were used for road stone. The value of this site is in the history of building materials as well as the scientific study of sedimentology. Rubble which has accumulated on the floor of the quarry may provide opportunities for limited fossil hunting. The quarry in the public open space shows the Rubbly Beds and about one metre of Building Stone, the lower part having been covered by a rubbish tip. The Northern Quarry, where the section was measured, is kept locked in order to prevent fly tipping.

The Southern Quarry (pictured)  is now the Quarr Local Nature Reserve.

Northern Quarry

Quarr quarry

Geology: Jurassic, Inferior Oolite, Garantiana Zone. 9-10m Rubbly Beds and Sherborne Building Stone, in two faces on the northern and western sides of an old quarry. The Inferior Oolite in a small area north of Sherborne is considerably thicker than beds of the same age further west and south.
Section measured by Dr. Mike Cosgrove, DIGS. SY636.177 North Quarry

c300 cmRubbly Beds.
Not easily accessible. Ammonites seen – Garantiana garantiana. Belemnites, bivalves, brachiopods, Nautilus sp., fossil wood.
Measurements on dip face. Dip measured at 5 degrees due South.
4-5 cmThin flaggy limestone.
30 cmLimestone with bivalves, ammonites (Parkinsonia), brachiopods
Thin calcitized clay band.
30 cmLimestone rich in brachiopods, particularly at top. Undulating upper and lower surfaces
10-20 cmLimestone. Garantiana garantiana at base, gastropod – Bourgetia, Nautilus sp. Forms prominent overhang in Quarry. Undulating upper and lower surfaces.
100-110 cmBlocky limestone. Undulating upper and lower surfaces.
5-10 cmOchreous shaley soft limestone.
95 cmMassive cream limestone, with 3 or 4 bedding units.
110 cmMassive limestone, with 3 bedding units.
5 cmDark ochreous soft calcareous clay.
Level of rubbish pile before conservation.
Measurements on strike face.
45 cmMassive grey limestone.
Erosion surface.
55 cmMassive cream limestone.
Erosion surface.
55-60 cmMassive grey limestone, very hard.
10 cmOchreous calcareous clay.
20 cmMassive, very hard cream limestone.
Bedding plane re-exposed by removal of rubbish – original floor of quarry.
Measurements in small excavation at middle of strike face.
30 cmSandy limestone.
5-10 cmSandy clay.
30 cmSandy limestone.
Bedding plane on shelly, sandy, ochreous limestone. Gastropods seen.
A fault on the strike face has a downthrow east of 45 cm.

Access: No restriction in Southern Quarry. Permission required for Northern Quarry, e-mail us for contact details.

Parking: at the side of the lane, with care.

Size of party: up to 30 in both quarries. Some broken glass remains on floor – strong shoes and gloves recommended, in addition to hard hats. The public open space is recommended for younger students.

Owner: Sherborne Castle Estates, Cheap Street, Sherborne, Dorset. DT9 3PY,  01935 813182. A key will be needed for the locked Northern Quarry.

Education level: Suitable for all ages.

BUCKMAN SS 1887-1907: The ammonites of the Inferior Oolite series. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London.

CALLOMON JH & COPE JCW 1995: The Jurassic Geology of Dorset. In Taylor PD (ed) Field Geology of the British Jurassic, Geological Society London, 51-103.

COPE JCW, DUFF KL ET AL 1980: A correlation of Jurassic rocks in the British Isles. 2. Middle & Upper Jurassic. Geological Society London. Special Report. 14.

FOWLER J 1938: The stones of Sherborne Abbey. Sherborne.

RICHARDSON L 1930: The Inferior Oolite & contiguous deposits of the Sherborne district. Proceedings of the Cotteswold NFC 24, 35-85.

TORRENS HS 1969: Excursion no. 1. Guide for Dorset and south Somerset. International field symposium of the British Jurassic. Keele.

TORRENS HS 1969A: Field meeting in the Sherborne-Yeovil district. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 80, 301-30.

WILSON V, WELCH FBA, ROBBIE JA & GREEN GW 1958: Geology of Bridport & Yeovil. Memoir Geological Survey, GB.

(Jo Thomas. DIGS 2002)

Preserving our geological heritage