The building stones of Sussex

With only a few quarries still active in West Sussex, there aren’t many natural exposures of the underlying strata; so the place to look for what’s under the ground is in the buildings on top of it.

The building stones of Sussex, like good Sussex folk and true,
Don’t advertise themselves by showing off like others do.
There’s limestone, sandstone, chalk and flint, arrayed in many a hue:
In watery beds laid down, they rarely surface into view.
Apart from Chalk along the coast, and shiny flints left high and dry
Along our Sussex shores, and sandstone rocks at Chiddinglye,
They’re reluctant to expose themselves, demure and rather shy;
And to tell one from the other often takes a practised eye.

There are Hythe Formation sandstone, Horsham Stone in slab and block,
Travertine and Carstone, ‘Sussex Marble’, Bognor Rock;
Foreign sarsens and erratics too have joined the local stock.
And maybe, on a sea-shore, you may see the geo-clock
Pressed as footprints in the sediments where dinosaurs would throng.
Sussex stones are in our churches and our castles, standing strong,
And roofing our old houses with stone tiles that last so long.
Sussex stone and Sussex folk: both to Sussex do belong.

(See also Sussex Marble and Paludina)

[Bodiam Castle 1906, by Wilfrid Ball (Wikimedia Commons)]
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