Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hunstanton's striped cliffs

click photo to enlarge
The sea cliffs of Hunstanton are one of the most visually striking geological formations in England. The strata comprises essentially three layers of rock. At the top is the Upper Cretaceous white/grey chalk known as the the Ferriby Chalk Formation. Below that is the brick coloured Hunstanton Red Chalk Formation formed during the Lower Cretaceous period. The red colour of this stone is due to ferrous staining. The dark brown, lower layer is Carstone (also spelled carrstone). Like the chalk above it this Lower Cretacaous red sandstone acquired its hue through the presence of iron.

The latter stone is widely used in the old buildings of Hunstanton. In wider Norfolk it is found in buildings in a zone that runs north-south down the eastern bank of the Wash from Thornham to around Stoke Ferry, but is especially seen in the area between Hunstanton and Castle Rising. In this region it was used alone in courses, with flint in chequerwork, and as infill with brick surrounds and quoins. Its use declined markedly after the first world war, but it is being used again in new buildings that echo traditional styles, often as a decorative finish over breeze-blocks in a flat area of wall that is enclosed by brick work. The smaller photograph shows Hunstanton Town Hall, a building of 1896, where the carstone is used around the arch in chequerwork with ashlar but also as a random, almost rubble facing in between the cut stone pilasters and the carstone blocks of the window surrounds. The term "gingerbread work" has been used to describe this way of using the distinctive, cake-coloured stone.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On