About an hours drive from home to the west is Portland, once an island, but now linked to the mainland by a shingle spit. Portland stone has been used since Roman times, and the headland still has several quarries still in production. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Wren made it his stone of choice when re-building St.Paul's Cathedral, and many other churches.
But today we had come to see a different type of stonework.
Tucked away on the western side of Portland is an old quarry, now disused, called Tout Quarry.
The place is pretty much as it was left by the quarrymen, but has attracted stonemasons and sculptors from around the world.
After driving through the buildings of an existing large quarry works, and finding the very inconspicuous car park (that holds about three cars!), one sets off on foot towards this peculiar and quiet place.
Eyes are first met by an extraordinary stone circle. But once there, it becomes obvious that you are not alone.
The eye is then drawn to a bull that is watching you, or is that a dinosaur behind that rock?
A briefcase and hat left by someone....and their hand?
As you walk along, always make a point of looking back, or you may miss an octopus.......
......or a nude hinding in the stone.
An eight foot tall crusader guards the circle.
But there are many, many sculptures, and you must walk through and over the quarry to see them all. Some are huge, others tiny. Here we came across an old bridge near the cliff top, that once carried a small rail line to move the rock. It's quite sobering to imagine men from way back, working the stone by hand on days that were cold and wet. A tough life.
A little further on we found this abstract piece.
And the area where sculptors practice their techniques. All around were small works of art, worked on, and then simply cast aside like rubbish so that the next technique could be honed.
Such as this bats wing, hidden amongst the rubble.
So much work had gone into turning this boulder into a dry stone wall. Once solid like it's surrounding fellows, hours and hours must have been spent chiselling away to get this effect, and it's only on closer inspection that one can see that no cement was used this time!
But alas the sun started to go down, making it even more bitterly cold, and so we had to leave Portland behind and head back down into Weymouth.
And a warm up toddy at the Red Lion before returning home.
Byr for now!