Highlight: Tout Quarry and the West Weares
Portland has been a source of fine building stone for centuries, and the island bears the scars of efforts to pull it from the ground. Towards the northern end of Portland a network of disused quarries is being slowly transformed into a nature park, conserved and protected for wildlife and for industrial archaeology.
Old quarries can be atmospheric and mysterious places to explore and none more so than Tout Quarry. In 1983 it was established as a sculpture park where masons and artists created works using local stone. One famous example is the carved figure by Anthony Gormley titled ‘still falling’. In the quarry itself it is left to the visitor to stumble upon these sculptures as they explore the many pathways, although there is a map you can download here.
The stone itself formed around 145 million years ago in a shallow tropical sea. Whilst the rocks of the Jurassic Coast are of great scientific importance, an intimate human connection with geology is revealed through its links with industrial, artistic and cultural expression. The prehistoric environments of the Triassic, Jurassic or Cretaceous feel less distant when we realise they have provided raw materials to feed our creativity.