The Memory Stones

Interpreting Portland’s unique landscape in stone

Stone – the Nature of Time

Stone unearthed holds the memory of time.  Once part of another landscape with evidence of  life replaced at the molecular level –  the geology underpins the fragile layer of ecology on which we all exist.

Twelve large ‘Memory Stones’ form a new arrival point to Tout Quarry Sculpture Park & Nature Reserve and the Wider Portland Quarries Nature Park; a network of abandoned and disused quarries that are packed full of wildlife, heritage, and industrial archaeology – in a collaboration between Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust.

The work is by artist Hannah Sofaer – MA (RCA) who will connect the stones to audio-visual recordings that she has made of artists work, Portland’s Quarry environment, people and skills of working with stone; informing layers of memory overlaid on the landscape and its geology.


Photo by Scott Irvine of the “First sunset over the Memory Stones”

The stones, installed by Ralph Stone who has a lifetime of experience of quarrying, with skills that go back to the time of Sir Christopher Wren, are aligned to the passage of the sun, Summer and Winter Solstice, Spring and Autumn Equinox, creating shadows up to 30 metres long, with views to the ecology, geology, art, architecture, archeology and quarrying history of the wider Portland Quarry landscape.

  1.  North West Stone-Looks back to World Heritage Coast.   Aligns with Mid Summer Sunset over Golden Cap on 21st June.
  2. West Stone-Looks back to Lyme Bay to the Triassic  – Aligns with the sunset of the Spring and Autumn Equinox.
  3. West South West – Looks across the Ocean to South America.  Records the life in the ocean.
  4. South West – Looks to the Geomorphology of the original land surface and  jointing structure of the Gullies that run  xxxx  the Island. Aligns with Mid Winter Sunset on 21st December.
  5. South South West -Looks to  Architecture  – the tower of St Georges Church inspired by St Paul’s Cathedral.
  6. South –  Looks across to the tunnel that connects Tout to Inmosthay Quarry and the wider  Portland Quarries Nature Park. Tout means ‘Lookout’ and the quarry overlooks Chesil Beech  and was once one of  over 100 working quarries on the island all worked by hand.  The shadow from the stone at noon on Mid Summers Day is 2 meters long and Mid Winters Day 13.4 meters.
  7. South South East-Archaeology  with references to  the early settlements of St Andrews at Church Ope, the Mesolithic site at Culverwell.
  8. South East-Lichens early pioneer species.   Aligned on Spring Equinox 2017 to  Outdoor Performance Environment at Church Ope. North edge aligns with Mid Winter Sunrise.
  9. East South East-Orchids, Butterflies and Insects – early life forms in the succession for regeneration of quarries.
  10. East – Plant Species 500 with 125 used for culinary and herbal remedies.   Aligns directly East with the sunrise at the Spring and Autumn Equinox.
  11. East North East- Vertebrates small mammals and reptiles.
  12. North East – Migratory birds. The North face of the stone is aligned with the Mid Summer Sunrise and captures the light of the northern most travel of the sun at daybreak throughout the year.

This first phase of the project will create a curatorial space re-engaging with Royal Academy artists including Sir Antony Gormley whose work  in 1983 helped to save the quarry from further mineral extraction; connecting to our built environment and the wider local and global significance of the geology to climate change today.

The Location Of The Memory Stones is shown on the map below:


Beacon Matrix @ Memory Stones

This project, with Art Fund support, forms part of RA250 UK: Exhibitions and events around the UK to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts.



Memory Stones Installation – Funded by Arts Council England, Department for Communities & Local Government, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Worshipful Company of Masons, Portland Court Leet, Dorset County Council Divisional Fund, Portland Masonic Lodge, Trewint Ltd and Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust.

Supported by Portland Stone Firms Ltd,  Albion Stone plc, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, ASTUDIO architects for the sunpath model and Eagle Vista Aerial Imaging.