Heavitree stone

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Heavitree stone

Heavitree stone was the principal building stone used in Exeter during the late Middle Ages and early modern period. It is a coarse breccia, that is a stone in which are embedded angular stone fragments. It was laid down in semi-arid conditions by flash flooding, so the stone fragments are not rounded in the manner of sedimentary deposits laid down in the sea. It dates to the Triassic period, and is about 280 million years old.

Quarries were opened at Heavitree and Wonford around 1350, and operated until the mid 19th century. The stone is prone to weathering, but nevertheless was used in many of Exeter’s parish churches and other buildings including Wynard’s almshouses, the Guildhall, many of the merchants’ houses in the High Street, the Georgian warehouses at the Quay and the Victorian pumping stations built by Brunel along the railway between Exeter and Torquay.

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