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Ham Hill War Memorial. Creative Commons
© Jim Champion

Stone will continue to be quarried from Ham Hill Country Park near Yeovil, Somerset,  for the next 80 years after planning permission to extend the site was agreed.  The Iron Age hill fort, near Norton sub Hamdon, is the only place in the country where ham stone can be quarried but as of July 2010 it was estimated the current reserve would only last for 18 months.

Permission has now been given by Somerset County Council to extend the quarry to the east of the current site. Output will be limited to 6,000 tonnes a year although that figure is more likely to be 3,000 tonnes.  It is estimated the new site will be produce stone for the next 80 years and that 80 per cent of the quarry output would be used locally.

English Heritage said the plans presented a dilemma because, while ham stone was needed to restore historical and important buildings, extending the quarry could impinge on a historical site. Giving its view of the plan, it said: “Ham Hill is both the main source for the continuing supply of ham stone, used historically for many important buildings, and is the site of the largest hill fort in England. This presents a policy dilemma.” Taken from…

One of the largest hill forts in the country, Ham Hill has been quarried since Roman times, it is the only source of the honey-toned Ham stone, and has been used for the dressed ashlar stone of many fine historic houses, though now it seems to be more used for stone fireplaces and garden walls.  English Heritage does indeed have a policy dilemma, a choice between preserving a large fine hill fort or allowing more quarrying for the next 80 years, a slow erosion of Ham Hill.


March 2011

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