It has been discovered that minerals have been extracted from the Isle of Purbeck since the early Bronze Age. Since then the Romans produced Pottery at Wareham & Norden for use all over Britain. They used Kimmeridge Shale for furniture. They used Purbeck Marble for ornamentation on buildings in the form of cornices, mouldings, veneers, inlays, flooring materials, and inscriptions, for columns and other massive items, and made mosaic floors. It was used for pestles and mortars. They buried their dead in it. They used the hard chalk of Purbeck for their mosaics
The Romans transported their materials through the Corfe Gap and processed them on the Norden side.
The useful materials were
then shipped out of Purbeck via a road leading to Ower Quay. This route was used
by others through the medieval days and right up until the early 1700's when the
exportation of stone was transferred to Swanage. Timber for use in the
construction of Corfe Castle was brought into Purbeck via this route (Marblers
Road along which a tradition that is still carried out every Shrove Tuesday -
In January 1885 the Harper's New Monthly Magazine (It is the second-oldest, continuously-published monthly magazine in America ) produced an article on the industries of Purbeck. It compared the three main sources of employment, farming, clay-cutting, and stone quarrying in Purbeck. Click here to see the article
The history of mineral extraction has continued down the ages with still large quantities of well known Purbeck Stone and the world's finest Ball Clay leaving Purbeck every year. Portland stone is still leaving from Tarmac's Swanworth Quarry and St Aldhelm's Quarry . The newest mineral exploitation is that of Oil and Wytch Farm is now Europe's largest onshore oil Field.
All this happened, still happens and will continue to happen in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Isle of Purbeck.
The Isle of Purbeck would be much poorer without this extraction and places like Tilly Whim Caves, and Blue Pool would not exist. (Corfe would look completely different in brick.)
The links on the right of the page take you to pages that provide more information on the different minerals that have been extracted and those that still are being extracted.