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New database reveals sources for the building stones of England

More than 4,000 types of building stone are catalogued in a new online database, launched today by Historic England.

The Building Stones Database for England is described as the first online searchable tool bringing together information on all the different types of stone that have been used in the buildings of England over the centuries.

The database is free to use and is accompanied by illustrated guides, highlighting the geology and distinctive stone buildings in different areas of the country

Users can browse the geological map, search by postcode, address or place name. Or they can look for a specific building stone and representative buildings or structures made with each stone type.

The database can also be used to source specific stone for repair work or new construction.

Production of the database was motive by a desire to help support those that work to protect old buildings. Nearly half (49%) of England’s listed buildings are made from stone and it is a key material in many more. It also features heavily in conservation areas and historic high streets, as well as in thousands of unlisted buildings and structures. Finding suitable stone to repair them is often difficult to source, Historic England says.

The database details which stone come from which quarries, empowering mineral planning authorities to take steps to protect them.

Clara Willett, senior building conservation advisor at Historic England, said: “England’s diverse geology has given rise to a huge variety of building stones, which in turn has helped shape our historic landscape – from cottages to grand castles, industrial mills to bridges.

“Before modern transport, buildings were constructed with locally available building stones, which commonly reflect the area’s geology. This has helped create the character and distinctiveness of our towns, villages and rural landscapes.

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