Stone Quarrying

In the Hundred of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Murhill Quarry, Winsley


The Cotswold Hills around Bradford have been quarried for limestone from the Roman period and even earlier. In the early days most of the stones used were those that were coarse and shelly and weathered well.

For high-prestige buildings, such as churches, more expensive ashlar was used. Ashlar is freestone that can easily be sawn into precisely squared blocks that fit together with the minimum of mortar. The best buildings can give the impression of being carved from a single block of stone, but it is often only skin-deep; coarser rubble stone lies beneath.

The demand for high-quality Bath Stone ashlar in the 18th and 19th centuries meant that quarriers had to follow the best beds into the hillside, creating vast labyrinths of tunnels.

Quarrying and dressing stone and stone masonry once employed significant numbers of people in the Bradford Hundred area.