The quarries supplying Exeter Cathedral

Back to Time Period
The quarries supplying Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral was built from stone taken from more than 20 different quarries; it is sometimes claimed to have the most varied geology of any English cathedral.

There were two main sorts:

1. Freestone – stones which could be dressed with chisels and axes into the rectangular blocks of ashlar which formed the wall surfaces and could also be carved to form windows, vaulting stone and sculpture.

2. Rubble – the in-filling within the walls which is not normally visible.

This map shows the main sources of stone supplying the cathedral in the years 1200-1400. The main sources of ashlar were around Salcombe and Beer, but the quarries at Portland and Ham Hill also supplied stone.

The stone for in-filling wall cores was acquired as locally as possible; much came from the small outcrops of purple volcanic rocks in the Exe Valley.