Maison du Marbre

Enormous quarries carved into the hills
cutting stone blocks
crafting the stone blocks by hand
prehistoric landscape
The environment was different when the deposits that became marble were first laid down

In a landscape dramatically sculpted by enormous stone quarries, you're looking at how the quarrymen of Marquise and Rinxent carved their marble out of the rocks in the hills above Boulogne.

Stone for cathedrals
From here they supplied blocks of stone for many English and Flemish churches - including St.Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. The statue of Napoleon on top of the Column overlooking Boulogne harbour was carved from this rock. More recently, thousands of tons of crushed marble from these quarries was used in making the linings for the French side of the Channel Tunnel.

The "Pierre [stone] de Marquise" (recrystallized calcite from the secondary era) was quarried by the Romans from the first century, It is soft and easy to carve and sculpt but hardens when exposed to air.

The quarrymen of Marquise turned to other types of rock after the Hundred Years War, when the Pierre de Marquise had been used up. They dug out hard calcite from the primary era - called "Marchioness Marble", because when cut and polished, it looks like marble (but isn't!).

By the 19th century, Marquise stone was in high demand. There was also a cement works, where local chalk/lime was burnt using locally mined coal.

The museum
At the "Maison du Marbre" you'll discover not only how they quarried and shaped the stone in the days of hand tools before explosives and giant excavators. You'll learn about the story of 300 million years of geology - how this "marble", though very hard-wearing and decorative, is really a hardened form of chalk. You'll see examples of what craftsmen and artists have made with this special rock.

Fossils found by quarry workers help you piece together clues to how different the environment was when this rock was formed - when Rinxent echoed to the roar of volcanoes and dinosaurs...

Walk around the Quarry
Take the trail around the quarry basin which covers 2,500 ha and discover its almost lunar landscape. Parts of the quarry are still being used.

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Location: near Rinxent and Marquise, within the Boulonnais Regional Park of Nord/Pas-de-Calais
Information/ reservations:

Tel: 00 33 3 21 83 19 10



Marquise &

Nausicaa, Boulogne © Copyright 1999-2000 Invicta Media. Last updated 7th January 1999