Harehope Quarry has a rich history as a working limestone quarry but since it closed wildlife has returned and the rocks are now enjoyed by a new group of people. The Harehope Quarry Project has worked to restore areas of the quarry giving it a new function and providing facilities for visitors.
History of the Quarry
Limestone has been quarried at Harehope for more than 900 years.
Quarrying on a small-scale has taken place here since the 12th century. However, larger scale quarrying did not begin until 1901 and had stopped by 1931.
The quarry re-opened again in 1954 and continued until 1987. The quarry was used more recently as a tarmac coating plant with limestone being brought in from other quarries in Weardale.
Limestone from Harehope Quarry was used in the process of refining iron from iron ore. This process took place at ironworks in Consett, Tyneside and Teesside.
More recently the limestone has been used in the construction of roads.
The Frosterley Marble found within the limestone was quarried for its ornamental value and can been seen in the Chapel of the Nine Altars in Durham Cathedral as well at churches in Weardale and further afield.
Harehope Quarry is a unique environment and offers interest for the natural historian, geologist and industrial archaeologist. The quarry is best known for its exposures of Frosterley Marble but also provides a home for a wealth of flora and fauna.
The rocks in Harehope Quarry were formed in the Carboniferous Period of earth history, around 350 to 300 million years ago. The quarry has exposed layers of limestone, shale, sandstone and coal.
In Carboniferous times the land that became Britain lay astride the equator and was periodically covered by tropical seas, huge river deltas and rainforests.
The tropical seas of the Carboniferous Period were full of life such as corals, sponges, crinoids and brachiopods. When