Days out Dorset UK

Taut Quarry Sculpture Park

On Portland, an abandoned stone quarry turned into a stone sculpture park.

Taut Quarry Sculpture Park

Tout Quarry Nature Reserve and Sculpture Park is an abandoned stone quarry which has now been turned into a stone sculpture park. Now one of Portland’s most popular attractions, you can discover over 60 hidden sculptures in the Quarry, such as Anthony Gormley’s ‘Still Falling’ sculpture and enjoy the stunning views over Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour. The park is also a haven for nature especially for those with a love of wild flowers and butterflies.

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park began in 1983 with artists residencies, where well known and emerging artists created both temporary and permanent work in response to the labyrinths and gullies of quarry workings within the 40 acre site – giving back to the Quarry where in the past so much had been taken away for buildings in London and around the world.

Today, the stone faces and fallen crags have now become a living sculpture garden. The maze of paths through the quarry makes finding each of the etchings in the sculpture park like a game of hide-and-seek, as visitors scramble over boulders and squeeze through mini-valleys to find the little works of art spread across the grounds.

You can download a trail leaflet showing each of the sculptures from the Dorset Council website.


We should have walked round with the map, identifying each piece as we found them, because afterwards it’s very hard to work out which piece is which.  And at the time we got lost and had to do a lot of scrambling over rocks to find a way out of a gully.


The only recognisable name for me is Antony Gormley, who was the first artist to work in the quarry in 1983, when he created the carving “Still Falling”. This is a life-size figure incised into the rock face. The figure was purposely distanced from the viewer by the depth of the quarried space below.


Gormley commented in 1983:

“The quarry itself is a powerful inspiration and tribute to the small bands of men that worked it, using blocks and wedges as well as natural layering and fissuring to cut the stone. Their technique (using neither complex machinery nor explosives) was a mixture of science, intuition and hard team work that is a model for us all… Working with stone is a fine job. Working on stone in a quarry is a challenge. You have to consider the material as a part of the place; as part of the earth.”  [source]


Geologically, The feet are in ‘Roach Stone‘- a shelly limestone full of fossils.  The body is in ‘Whit Bed‘ – a good quality limestone, and the head is in ‘Base Bed‘ – a very fine white limestone.


View of Portland Harbour.and Chesil Beach from the quarry


An old tramway in the quarry

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *