People have been building with rocks for thousands of years. The pyramids of ancient Egypt were mostly built from limestone blocks that were carved from local quarries nearly 4,500 years ago. The insides of the pyramids were lined with granite. This had to be brought from a quarry 800 kilometres away and was transported down the River Nile on rafts.
The quarry industry is a major supporter of archaeological digs and many fascinating artefacts have been found at sites around the country.
Tarmac, the UK’s largest supplier of heavy building materials and construction services, supports many archaeological groups in the discovery and preservation of British history.
To find out more about Tarmac’s own history, “The Story Of Tarmac 1903-2003”; see the timeline on Tarmac's website
Among the amazing finds made by Tarmac at its quarries are a Roman gaming board and the only complete set of Anglo-Saxon surgical instruments ever to be found in Britain. Tarmac funded an archaeological dig at its Colchester Quarry after these two finds next to an old Roman fort.
One of the latest discoveries was at Nea Farm near Ringwood. Archaeologists have found small ditches, ash and charcoal-rich pits and more than 400 flints from the Upper Palaeolithic era dating back to at least 10,500 BC. There are few open-air sites which date back to this period in the UK, and best of all, the Ringwood one was completely untouched, allowing in-depth studies of prehistoric human behaviour.
Roman remains dating back nearly two thousand years have been unearthed at Tarmac’s Burntstump Quarry near Nottingham, during routine excavations. Amongst the artefacts were pottery, metalwork and stoneware. They were discovered by the Trent and Peak Archaeological Trust in pits thought to have been used for storing food, disposing of waste and burning charcoal.
Other finds include a middle bronze age rapier, human skulls and other remains dating back to 2000 BC from Langford quarry in Nottinghamshire. A mammoth tusk and 1000-year-old Saxon pottery and daub (an ancient building material often used in the construction of Anglo-Saxon dwellings) were also found at nearby Girton quarry. The Tarmac dig at Girton quarry has also revealed evidence of a buried river channel (the former course of the River Trent) which dates back to 7-10,000 BC and there is a good chance that this boggy river will reveal well-preserved materials. The site is the first of the Anglo-Saxon period to be excavated in Nottinghamshire and the only known site of its period in this country.
The finds are of great historical importance and illustrate Tarmac’s commitment to archaeology.