Pyramids lost in Sandwell

Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around how much stone has been taken out of the Black Country.
The basalt rock quarried in Rowley for example (known as ‘Rowley Rag’) –used for Victorian kerbstones and more recently in road surfaces– left massive craters in local hills. 

Most of these have since been filled in –one example was Darby’s Hill quarry, now transformed into greenspace and suburban streets (see location below).  But a clue to exactly how much stone was taken from this particular quarry is that when it was re-filled they had to find 1.3 million cubic metres of material.  That’s a lot by anyone’s standards. 
But how can we imagine what that amount might look like? Well, the photo above shows figures dwarfed by one of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt.  The volume of this particular monument (Menkaure) is about 250,000 cubic metres.  We reckon our quarry in Sandwell could have made about five of these.

Historically, quarries peppered the Black Country and typified its landscape.  To reflect this, a piece of Victorian paving (image left) from Rowley was the fifth item in the exhibition The Black Country in Ten Objects (the fourth was the subject of this post).

> The local legacy of quarrying is the subject of an interactive map by the Black Country Consortium;
> The location of former Darby’s Hill Quarry in Google maps;
> Darby’s Hill Quarry is the subject of a drawing held by the Tate, itself strangely reminiscent of pyramid construction;
> Subscribe (where it says ‘Receive Updates’ on the right of this page) and be notified of posts on the other objects.

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