Tedbury Camp Quarry takes its name from the Iron Age fortification that partially encircles the high ground 500m
southwest of the quarry. Flanked by deeply incised valleys containing the River Mells (to the north) and Fordbury
Water (to the south), the area provided a natural site for one of the many hill forts that are known on the Mendip
Hills. Remnants of the bank and ditch fortification that stretches between the two valleys can still be traced through
the wooded hilltop (Figure 2).
Intermittent quarrying activity during the 20th century removed much of the Carboniferous limestone that forms the
narrow promontory at the confluence of the River Mells and Fordbury Water. When the quarry was operational, the
processing plant was located on the natural, near-horizontal surface of Carboniferous limestone that was revealed
after the thin (4-6m) overburden of Jurassic limestone was removed. In the 1960s, quarrying ceased and the flat
bench was used for storing hardcore and rubble.
Early in the 1980s, geologists were carrying out field surveys in eastern Mendip to identify sites for inclusion in a
geological guidebook (Duff et al., 1985), and the educational potential of this partially obscured exposure was
championed principally by Charles Copp, then a postgraduate researcher at Keele University. Negotiations with
the quarry owner resulted in the former Nature Conservancy Council being permitted to clear the site, revealing a
spectacular expanse of some 4,300m2 of Carboniferous limestone overlain by low cliffs of Jurassic limestone
Figure 3. Tedbury Camp Quarry when first cleared by
the Nature Conservancy Council
Reproduced from Duff et al., 1985.
Although the site has no statutory protection, it has been conserved on a voluntary basis for the last two
decades and the principal threats to its existence come from invasive silver birch, buddleia and fly tipping
(Whiteley, 2006). It was identified as a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS) and included in the RIGS
register held by Somerset Environmental Records Centre in 1987. In 1993 it was recognised as a County
Geology Site and incorporated within the Mendip District Plan. More recently, Tedbury Camp has been
included in Somerset Geology - A Good Rock Guide, used as an exemplar in the assessment of geodiversity
at geological sites nationwide (Scott et al., 2007), and featured in Farran’s (2008) compilation of geological
localities in eastern Mendip.
This site is large and the Jurassic exposures can be replenished, so judicious hammering and collecting is
permitted, although care should be taken to avoid damaging the unconformity surface. That said, a stiff-bristled
brush and a good hand lens are better tools for revealing the detail that makes Tedbury Camp so interesting.