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Quarry

QUARRY, an excavation in the ground from whence are extracted marble, stone, or chalk, for the purposes chiefly of sculpture and architecture. The name appears to have been applied to such excavations from the circumstance that the materials obtained from them are there quadrated or formed into rectangular blocks.

Egypt abounds with rocks of calcareous stone, sandstone, and granile [egypt]; and all these materials have been employed in the formation of the massive works which yet remain to attest the magnificence of the antient people of that country. The walls of most of the temples were constructed of sandstone, which appears to have been chiefly obtained from the quarries stretching along the banks of the Nile, in the mountains of Silsileh; but the obelisks and statues which adorned those temples are formed of Syenite, or Oriental granite, drawn from the quarries in the islands of Philee and Elephantine, and particularly from those vast excavations in the mountain terraces about Syene. (On this subject, see "Egypt. Antiq.,' Library of Entertaining Knowledge.) The stone which has served for the pyramid of Cheops is a carbonate of lime, of a light grey colour, and the same kind of stone forms the interior mass of the pyramid of Mycerinus, but the latter is covered with red granite The monolith at Sais, in the Delta, was formed of a single block of granite, which was floated down the Nile on a raft, from the quarry in Elephantine. (Herod., li. 175.)

The master-pieces of Grecian sculpture were executed in the rich while marbles of Attica and the islands of the Archipelago. The quarries of Mount Pentelicus near Athens supplied the materials for the Parthenon and the temple of Theseus in that city, and for the temple of Ceres and Proserpine at Elcusis; and both in Greece and Asia Minor an abundance of stone of a greenish white was dug from the earth for the ordinary purposes of architecture. The marble of Pentelicus, which lies on the surface of the rocky mouniain, was obtained by cutting the side of the hill into vertical cliffs; and about the foot of the escarpment there still remain some of the blocks of marble partly cut in forms for the shafts of columns. The quarries at Ephesus are said to have constituted an immense labyrinth; and that in the hill Epipolrc, with the stone from which the edifices of Syracuse were constructed, appears to have been of vast extent, since it was capacious enough to contain the 7000 Greek soldiers who had been taken prisoners when the army of Nicias retreated from that city. (Thucyd., vii. 86.) The quarries of the Greeks and Romans were worked by slaves, and as the labour was of a severe kind, we find frequent allusions to the practice of sending unruly slaves to work in the quarries as a punishment.

We learn from Vitruvius (lib. ii., cap. 7) that the buildings of antient Italy were constructed wilh stones of several different kinds. This writer states that the quarries of Alba and Fidens {Albano and Castel Jubilen) produced a red and soft stone which soon decayed; and that the stone obtained from those of Tibur (Tivoli), Amiternum (Vitorino), and Mount Soracte, was moderately hard. The Tiburtine or Travertine stone is a calcareous rock; and it appears that it was employed in constructing most of the buildings of antient Rome. The quarries in Umbria and Picenum furnished a white stone which could be cut with a saw, and would stand well in situations where it was sbeltered from the weather, but was liable to be destroyed by rain or frost. On the other hand, tbe red stone obtained from the quarries about the Vulsinian Lake (Bolsena) on the borders of Tarquinii would stand both frost and Are, and would last for ages; on which account it was generally employed for sculptured works. After the destruction of Rome by fire, in the time of Nero, the houses are said to have been rebuilt of Oie Alban and Gabian stone, which has the property of resisting the action of that element. The quarries of Carrara, on the north-western slope of the Apennines, have long been celebrated for the fine white marble which is so much employed in the north of Eurooo for statuary.

The British Isles abound with stone of nearly every different kind that can be employed with advantage in architecture. The quarries of Aberdeenshire are said to supply London annually with 12,000 tons of the best granite, which is employed in that eity for bridges, river walls, and every work where strength ittd durability are most required. The Peterhead granite fwrn-the satwe county takes a beautiful polish, and is frequently employed for columns, chimney-pieces, and other ornamental1 works. The Grampian Hills in Scotland, the quarries in the county of Dublin, and those of Newry in the county of Down, in Ireland; also produce several varieties of the like material. In England granite is obtained chiefly, and in great abundance, from the quarries in Cornwall, where that material is usually designated Moor-stone. Granite from Aberdeen, from Cornwall, and Devonshire was employed in the construction of the present embankment along the Thames above Westminster-bridge.

Sandstone, both red and while, is obtained in large quantities for the purposes of building, from Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire; and the principal edifices in Shrewsbury have been constructed chiefly of the white kind which is furnished by the quarries near Grinshill in Shropshire. A millstone-grit, which is now much used in England, is suppled from Bromley and Hedon in Yorkshire. The red-sandstone is dug from the quarries at Barra, Tranent, and other places in Lothian; from those at Kingudie in Perthshire, and also from Arbroath in Forfarshire. In Ireland it is obtained from the quarries in Tipperary and the county of Cork.

A slate-stone for covering buildings and other purposes is excavated from the Deny hall quarries near Camel ford in Cornwall, and from those on the Berwyn range of mountains in Denbighshire. Large slate-quarries have been opened near Bangor in Caernarvonshire, and in the Cumbrian Mountains. Slate-stone is also obtained from excavations near Horsham in Sussex; and there are some quarries of this stone in the counties of Donegal and Kerry.

The stone which may be considered as the most extensively diffused over England and Ireland is that which is denominated limestone, and which, from the facility it affords for working it, is most generally called freestone. It is quarried to some extent in Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, and Oxfordshire, and a grey species is obtained in Yorkshire and Northamptonshire; but the principal quarries of this material are in Dorsetshire and in the country about Bath. Those in Dorsetshire are situated about Kingston in tho Isle of Portland, and at Swanwich, or Swanage, in the Isle of Purbeck. The most extensive quarries about Bath are at Combe Down, where the ground has been undermined for several miles. More than 30,000 tons of Portland stone are said to be exported annually to London, where it has been very generally employed from the time that lnigo Jones used it in the construction of the Banqueting-house at Whitehall. It was also extensively used by Sir Christopher Wren in the building of St. Paul's cathedral, the Monument, and most of the public edifices in the city after tht great fire which occurred in 1666. It is said however to be not so much used ut present as formerly. The stone obtained from Purbeck is of various kinds; some of it, which is capable of taking a good polish, has been used for the pillars of Salisbury and Canterbury cathedrals. It is of a darker colour than Portland stone, and in general it is not so good; the blocks raised from the quarries are also smaller. The material is frequently used as a flag-stone for the steps of buildings and for paving the streets. The hills containing the stone lie in a direction nearly east and west; the beds have a considerable dip or inclination to the horizon, and being co\ercd by a large mass of earth, tbe men work in quarries under ground. About 40,000 tons of this stone are i be exported annually.

The stone of Portland and Purbeck constitutes the upper oolite formation of the geologists; and in the former district the quarries are cut through several different beds. The first, or that immediately below the vegetable earth, consists of a cream-coloured limestone, three or four foot deep; and next to it is the cap-ttone, which is nf the same colour, very hard, and about ten feet thick. Below these is a species of rock composed of fragments of oystershells cemented together, and still lower is a bed, 5 feet thick, of good white stone. This is followed by a quantity of flint about six feet deep, a second bed of good stone five feet deep, and a thin layer of stones of small value. The best building-stone lies still deeper, and the beds of it vary in thickness from seven to fourteen feet. Underneath all these are masses of flints, extending to the depth of fifty or sixty feet. The best oolite of Purbeck is obtained from the quarry of Wardspit in that district The quarries near Bath furnish the stone which bears the name of that town, and which is considered by geologists as belonging to the lower oolite formation. It occurs generally in three beds, of variable thicknesses and different qualities. That in the middle is far superior to those which are above and below it. The depth of the middle bed is in some places as much as thirty feet, and the stone when first taken from the quarry is soft, but it becomes hard after having been for a time exposed to the air. The depth of tho upper bed varies from twenty to above fifty feet, and the material is either shelly or argillaceous ; that of the former kind appears to have been employed by the Romans for the edifices which they constructed in this part of the country, and it is said to be very durable.

The marble and limestone quarries which were opened near Plymouth in 1812 furnished the material which was used in the formation of the Breakwater at that place ; and the stone is stated to have been raised from th»nee in block* weighing from one to above five tons. The material selected for the construction of the houses of parliament, now in the course of being built, is an excellent magnesuui limestone which abounds in all the tract of country from Durham to Northampton; and that which is actually employed is obtained from several different quarries, principally those near Norfalland Anston in Yorkshire, and near Bolsover in Derbyshire.

Limestone is found in Scotland, where it is occasionally employed for architectural purposes. It is also plentiful in many parts of Ireland; and quarries of this material, of a rich kind, have been opened in Queen's County, and in tbe counties of Dublin, Mealh, and Cork. The limestone district of Kilkenny is famous for its quarries of black marble so much used for ornamental purposes, and good flagstones for paving are obtained at Shawhill in the same county. The quarries in the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire afford in abundance a blue claystone for building; and the best stones for pavements are obluined from those at Ealand or Eland near Halifax in Yorkshire. The quarries near Maidstone, on the south bank of the Medway, produce much of what is called ragstone, a material which is occasionally used in Kent for building, but chiefly in the construction of sea-walls and for paving the roads. Lastly, about Rycgate and Godstone in Surrey is found a soft stone which has the property of withstanding the action of fire. and which, on that account, is much used for chimneys, ovens, and furnaces, but it is scarcely fit for any other purpose.

A valuable table of the principal quarries of sandstone and limestone in England accompanies the ' Report concerning the Qualities of Stone with reference to the New Houses of Parliament' (1839).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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