Medieval Sources of Stone for Winchester Cathedral

Winchester lies in an area virtually devoid of building stone. The city is on the southern edge of the South Downs that is a pronounced upland area extending from the Salisbury Plain in the west to Beachy Head in the east. The bedrock of the Downs is the Upper Cretaceous Chalk that is a soft friable limestone completely unsuited for major building work, despite forming impressive cliffs along the Sussex coast to the east of Brighton. To the south of Winchester lies the Hampshire Basin where the underlying strata are unconsolidated sands and clays of younger, Tertiary age (figure 1). Vernacular buildings in the area reflect the lack of building stone. On the Chalk outcrop, the principal building material is flint composed of very hard, irregular lumps of silica that have weathered out from the Chalk, together with the occasional use of “clunch” derived from harder streaks within the soft Chalk limestone. To the south, bricks, fired from clays found within the Tertiary sediments, predominate.

Winchester lies in an area virtually devoid of building stone. The city is on the southern edge of the South Downs that is a pronounced upland area extending from the Salisbury Plain in the west to Beachy Head in the east. The bedrock of the Downs is the Upper Cretaceous Chalk that is a soft friable limestone completely unsuited for major building work, despite forming impressive cliffs along the Sussex coast to the east of Brighton. To the south of Winchester lies the Hampshire Basin where the underlying strata are unconsolidated sands and clays of younger, Tertiary age (figure 1). Vernacular buildings in the area reflect the lack of building stone. On the Chalk outcrop, the principal building material is flint composed of very hard, irregular lumps of silica that have weathered out from the Chalk, together with the occasional use of “clunch” derived from harder streaks within the soft Chalk limestone. To the south, bricks, fired from clays found within the Tertiary sediments, predominate.

  • Category: history
  • Year: 2016
  • Author: Parker, John
  • Date: Parker, John
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