Author: Nathan Akrill

A project to raise the awareness of the loss of global biodiversity has tolled the first ever full sized bell cast from Portland Roach stone… Confused? Read on.

The MEMO Project – Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory – has been created by a stone carver Sebastian Brooke and aims to create an inspirational monument on Portland to contain carvings of all species that have become extinct since the Dodo.

It is meant to be a wake up call to the world for the damage that we are doing to our biodiversity, and the idea is that the monument will increase in height the more species become extinct, thus highlighting the issue further.

All of the carvings would be made from Portland Stone, by carvers from around the world, and its location on Portland is very much to do with the stone, the links to the Jurassic Coast and the fact that Robert Hooke, the man who first recognised the concept of extinction, realised this by seeing fossils in Portland Stone.

But what about the bell?  One of the features of the project will be a vast bell in the centre of the monument that will be tolled each time another species becomes extinct.  The bell is to be cast in bronze out of Portland stone – the type known as Roach stone which is full of fossils and fossil casts, particularly of the shell known as the Portland Screw.  The bell in the photos attached is a prototype, and worked incredibly well, even showing the fossils cast in bronze.   To generate publicity for the project, the bell was taken up to the site of the project, in Bowers Quarry in Portland, and tolled at 8am in order to mark the opening of the Rio+20 conference on biodiversity [check].  I believe the BBC World Service were there to mark the occasion.

The project, which will have a very strong educational link, is supported by the Royal Society, the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity and many other people and organisations.  The project Director, Trustees and supporters are now seeking the significant funding that is needed to realise the project.

You can find out more at the project website, and at this article from the independent

Sam Rose, Jurassic Coast Team Leader

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