In general, most authors have followed the general rule that builders from prehistory to the post-medieval period commonly used locally obtained material for general building, with more distant stone sources exploited for decorative elements. However, as covered on Saturdays lecture, in conservation practice, stone quarries form a richer and more useful resource which may add to our understanding of the significance of a site; relationships with other sites and the landscape; and offer potential material for testing and replacement purposes.

There are a wide range of works on the history and technology of quarrying and masons in the past which are worth consulting including:

  • Arnold, D. (1991) Building in Egypt–Pharaonic Stone Masonry. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
  • Blagg. T.F.C. (1990) “Building stone in Roman Britain”, in Parsons, D. [ed] Stone: Quarrying and Building in England, AD 43- 1525. Philimore.
  • Carville, G. (2004) “Mellifont – an abbey in a quarry”. Journal of the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland, 4, 2004, 27-30
  • Clark, W.W. (1994) “New Light on Old Stones: Quarries, Monuments, and Sculpture in Medieval France. An Introduction”, Gesta, Vol. 33, No. 1, (1994), pp. 3-9
  • Coldstream, N. (1991) Masons and Sculptors. London. British Museum Press.
  • Conry, M.J. (2006) Carlow granite : years of history written in stone. Chapelstown, Carlow : Chapelstown Press.
  • Eogan, G. (1998) “Eighteenth century headstones and the stone mason tradition in county Wicklow: the work of Denis Cullen of Monaseed”, Wicklow Archaeology and History, 1, Pp. 41-63
  • Gregory, B. (1990) “Parnell’s quarry”, Journal of the Arklow Historical Society, No volume number, Pp. 16-18
  • Halpin, S. (2009) “The story of Doonagore quarry and Liscannor stone”, The Other Clare, 32, Pp.73-78
  • Hand, T. (2008) “’Doing Everything of Marble wch can be Done with it’: some descriptive accounts of the Kilkenny Marble Works”, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies – the Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, Vol. XI, Pp.75-99
  • Hand, T. (2005) “The White Quarry, Ardbraccan”, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies – the Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, Vol. VIII, Pp.138-159
  • Kemmy, J. (2003) “Limerick stone and stonemasons”, in Lee, D. [ed] Made in Limerick, Vol.1: history of industries, trade, and commerce. Limerick. Limerick Civic Trust. Pp.195-202
  • Meighan, I., Simpson, D. & Hartwell, B. (2002) “Newgrange: Sourcing of Its Granitic Cobbles”, Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 32-35
  • Murray, C. (2004) “The stones of Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh”, Old Kilkenny Review: Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, 56, Pp.113-120

Be aware however that both primary or secondary sources on historic quarrying need to be read with a critical eye. The most well know work on Irish quarries is George Wilkinson’s Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland published in 1845. However, this is a work of its time and must be treated with the same caution as reading a book on engineering, archaeology, architecture or other related discipline – useful, occasional insightful but limited. The late Professor Ron Firman memorably described the geological descriptions as “19th century balderdash”.  The information on quarries offer a snapshot in time of stone sources in pre-Famine Ireland, but can be frustratingly vague as to location and production.

Modern resources include the published geological maps and online resources of the Geological Survey of Ireland and the British Geological Survey, and publications such as the recent Islands, coast and quarries: the geological heritage of Fingal by Matthew Parkes, published by Fingal County Council.

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