5.2 Stone


The builders constructing an abbey in Winchester faced the problem of there being no local source of building stone except for flint. Whist acceptable for foundations and infill of walls, this material was unacceptable for facework to the builders of the abbey, who were aiming to build a new abbey at Hyde that would rival the best in Europe. With the building of the new abbey New Minster would become redundant. However a fundamental tenet of the Benedictines was that there should be continuity of services which was unbroken day and night, 365 days a year. The abbey would have access, of course, to the building stone of the New Minster, but this would not have been available until at least the East end of the new building, and possibly the transepts as well, had been completed sufficiently for services to continue on the move to Hyde in 1110.

5.2.1 Stones of Hyde Abbey (coming soon)

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5.2.2 Transportation (coming soon)

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5.2.3 Types

The nearest significant source of quality building stone was Selborne Malmstone. However this was not of sufficient quality for facework in major buildings. The nearest source of quality stone was from the Chilmark/Chicksgrove quarries. However these were 35 miles away, and of limited availability. Thus the builders turned to such sources as Quarr on the Isle of Wight, Caen in Normandy and, to a limited extent, Purbeck. Despite the longer distances, the low (comparatively) cost of sea transport made its use more economical.

Overland transport has been quoted as costing as much as the ex-quarry value of the stone for a 15 mile journey. This severely limited the use of stone where there was no access to navigable rivers or the sea. Whilst it is possible that the River Itchen was navigable for barges as far as Winchester during the period that the abbey was built, there could have been a five to ten mile journey by two wheeled cart to the Hyde site.

The proportions of the different types of stone used in the construction of the abbey church and ancilliary buildings is currently unclear. A major research project is planned involving the analysis and recording of all non-local stone finds retained by the Museum Service to deduce the origins and proportions of stone used over the time of the existence of the Abbey Bath (coming soon)

coming soon Caen (coming soon)

coming soon Purbeck (coming soon)

coming soon Quarr (coming soon)

coming soon Tournai Marble

This piece of Tournai marble was almost certainly part of one of a set of spiral twist columns from Hyde Abbey. Larger sections of three such columns were also found, and are on display at Winchester Museum. Tournai marble comes from a town of the same name in Belgium. The stone is difficult to carve and has poor weathering properties. They are therefore likely to have been used in the interior of a building in the Hyde Abbey complex, most probably the abbey church. It was found during the 1972 excavation of the abbey.  

Fig Tournai marble spiral twist columns


Fig Magnified image of Tournai marble Other (coming soon)

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