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Geoscientist Online

Building Stones of West Sussex

BCBuilding Stones of West Sussex

Here we have a book that provides the best of all things bibliographical. It is not just an excellent, exquisite coffee-table book; it also offers accurate, useful, quality, readable information. The authors, Roger Birch and Roger Cordiner, both retired experienced geologists and teachers, are to be warmly congratulated. This work is comprehensively packed with stratigraphical detail, all beautifully illustrated in colour. Surely, a book to be of use to both professional geologists and yet treasured by young enthusiasts.

The book will appeal especially to geologists, for it provides an indispensable guide to the geology of the county. Each known rock type is clearly illustrated in its true forms and colours. So often we find authors in this field are apt to concentrate on the buildings at the expense of the rocks. All of the 30-plus rock types found in the region are examined, their varieties displayed, the history of their use outlined, their quarrying localities indicated, and the names of places where they have been used and may still be seen, provided. We could quibble, of course, over the use of rock names, as stratigraphers love to do; but even I, obliged to research and check one name, found the authors totally correct in their use. To the indigenous rocks, some 20 imported rock types are added to be given the same excellent and precise treatment.

The whole work was desktop published by the authors and the printing and hard back binding undertaken by Colour Printing International (CPI Antony Rowe) of Chippenham who were overlooked in the acknowledgements. I approved so much of the quality of their work, I had to enquire from the authors.

In 2006 Roger Birch had moved some way towards the present production when he produced his popular colour guide to ‘Horsham Stone and Sussex Marble’. That this was not to be the last of his researches was indicated when he gave that work the sub-title ‘Sussex Stones’.  This building stones book is the result of extensive continued research by the authors. It has been compiled with great care. The hundreds of localities referred to where the various rocks occur have all been clearly visited and carefully photographed. The result is a book which can be used by persons such as church historians, conservators and archaeologists, to actually correctly identify rock types. If you have no idea of what Pulborough, Lavant or Mixon Stones look like, or have been used for, you too should possess a copy.

Reviewed by John F Potter


By ROGER BIRCH AND ROGER CORDINER 2014.  Self-published. ISBN 978-09551259-1-1.349pp, List Price: £34.99. Currently from R Cordiner, 9,The Rowans, Grand Avenue, Worthing BN11 5AT E: