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Episodes 2015; 38(2): 118-123

Published online June 1, 2015


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Bath Stone and Purbeck Stone: A comparison in terms of criteria for Global Heritage Stone Resource Designation

Brian R Marker

Member of the Heritage Stone Task Group E-mail: brian@amarker.freeserve.co.uk

Received: September 12, 2014; Revised: October 22, 2014; Accepted: October 22, 2014

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Two limestone resources from the Mesozoic strata of south-west England, Bath Stone and Purbeck Stone, are compared in terms of criteria proposed for designation of Heritage Stone Resources. Both have been used locally for some 2000 years and have had significant wider use in the past 350 years. Bath Stone has been used widely in the UK and to some extent elsewhere. Its use throughout the city of Bath provides an overall architectural integrity that contributed to it achieving World Heritage City status. Purbeck Stone, with the exception of a variety known as “Purbeck Marble”, has been mainly used locally. It was used to build several structures now designated as Ancient Monuments but Purbeck Marble has been used extensively for interior ornamental work in many ancient and important buildings. Bath Stone has been widely recognised as a “cultural icon” but there is less awareness of Purbeck Stone. Both are still quarried, and have an assured future, subject to continuing demand. However, for both, Heritage Stone Resource designation might help to reinforce their status. Overall, the case for designation of Bath Stone appears to be stronger than that for Purbeck Stone.