The Building Stones Database for England is described as the first online searchable tool that brings together information on all the different types of stone that have been used in British buildings over the centuries. century.
The database is free to use and comes with illustrated guides, highlighting the geology and distinctive stone buildings in different parts of the country.
Users can browse geological maps, search by postcode, address or place name. Or they might look for a specific building stone and typical buildings or structures made of each stone.
The database can also be used to source specific stones for new construction or repair work.
The production of the database was driven by the desire to help support those working to protect old buildings. Almost half (49%) of the buildings listed in the UK are made of stone and it is the main material in many others. It also occurs in many preserved areas and historic streets, as well as in thousands of unlisted buildings and structures. Finding the right stone to repair them is often difficult to source, says Historic England.
The database details which rocks come from which quarries, empowering mineral planning agencies to take steps to protect them.
Clara Willett, senior advisor for building conservation at Historic England, said: “England’s diverse geology has produced many of the building stones that have shaped our historic landscape – From small houses to large castles, industrial factories to bridges.
“Before modern transportation, buildings were constructed using locally available building stone, often reflecting the geology of the area. This has helped to characterize and differentiate our towns, villages and rural landscapes.
“The need for a database was identified after research revealed that – despite the importance of rocks to England’s historic environment – there is no comprehensive catalog to match the rocks. used in a building with their origin.
“Historical buildings are often best repaired with the same stone used during construction. Understanding the properties and performance of the original rock helps determine replacements. Compatibility repair avoids further damage caused by incompatibility, and is critical to visual consistency.”
The launch of the new database and guide coincides with the Natural Stone Show in London this week (June 6-8), where Historic England is hosting a conservation conference.
The need for databases and planning tools was first identified in 2004, when the government released a report, Planning to supply building stone and natural roofing stone in England and Wales (also known as the Symonds report), examined the issues affecting the supply and demand of indigenous building stone in the United Kingdom.
The report highlights the problems of sourcing suitable stone for the repair of historic buildings, recommends that mineral planning agencies should identify and protect heritage quarries and – to support support this – a national database of roofing and building stone sources should be compiled. Nineteen years later, and the job is done.
To access the Building Stone Database for England, visit historyengland.org.uk/building-stones-england