Box Quarry (Cotswold Stone), Wiltshire EarthCache
The Wombles: As requested
Box Quarry (Cotswold Stone), Wiltshire
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This EarthCache is at the location of one of the last remaining entrances to Box Quarry. There are around 15 miles of tunnels in the Box Quarry complex which resulted from quarrying of the stone used to construct much of the World Heritage City of Bath.
Bath Stone is an Oolitic Limestone that was lain down as sediment in a warm shallow sea 170,000,000 years ago during the Jurassic Period. Oolitic Limestone consists of minute spherical particles called Ooids, which usually consist of small fragments of shell coated with layers of calcite. Over time these have become cemented together to form the stone we find today.
Box Quarry is famous as the source of honey-coloured limestone which was ubiquitously used throughout the City of Bath. The Romans were the first to use Cotswold Stone some 2,000 years ago and there were villas in Box and various locations through to Bath which were made from this material; Romans were renowned tunnelers although there is no proof of Roman quarrying here.
Saxons (St Adhelm, 645-709) were known to have used Bath stone in their construction including building the Bradford-on-Avon “Church of St Laurence”, one of the oldest churches in the country dating back to 705 (further information here:
(visit link) )
Further building at Lacock Abbey (13th Century, original home of one Doomsday Book and the first photographic negative, details here
(visit link) ) , various local country mansions such as Chalfield Manor and Longleat.
Box Quarry was already huge by 1830 when a vertical shaft was made to the “Cathedral”, an enormous cavern several hundred feet deep, to enable stone to be extracted from one quarry without going through adjacent quarries belonging to other owners. During 1836-41, Box Tunnel was constructed by Brunel for the GWR railway and this provided both a huge quantity of stone and also an easy means of transport for the stone. As you stand at these coordinates, you can hear (and feel) passing trains a few hundred feet beneath you.
As you approach the entrance to the quarry, you will see the spoil (huge blocks of discarded stone) and often you will feel the air temperature change (the underground air comes out here and is a constant 9°C throughout the year). It is now occupied by hundreds of (protected) Greater Horseshoe bats and other species, please avoid disturbing them.
A few hundred yards away you can visit the entrance known as "Jacks Workings" which is an even bigger entrance, now secured with a gate.
Beware if you approach this location from the top as there are steep drops.
When you get to the posted coordinates, please take a photo of the entrance with your GPS and post it with your log. Also, please answer the following question and email the answer to me through my profile:
Estimate the width and height of the entrance here.
Unfortunately a roof fall just inside the entrance has partially blocked the quarry and prevents a clear view inside. It is still possible to enter the quarry here but please don't do this unless you are an experienced caver following caving safety procedures. There are 15 miles of tunnels and many inexperienced explorers get totally lost in the confusing labyrinth and then run out of batteries and light. Being lost in the dark is made more hazardous by the unmarked wells and many other hazards.
More information and details of visits can be found on this website: www.darkplaces.co.uk/box
Please check out the Geocaching Association of Great Britain offering support for Geocachers in GB.
(No hints available.)