Your Journey through the caves - Part of England's only Natural World Heritage Site.
Click photo's to enlarge.

Museum & Roman AreaRoman Area

Saxon Area Saxon Area

Near Chapel Near Chapel

Norman Area Norman Area

Modern Area Cutting Out Area

Cave Map Cave Map

Carved BowlBeer Stone bowl made by John Scott presented by the villagers of Beer to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee.

Beer Quarry Caves, Quarry Lane, Beer - East Devon

The caves are now open every day until Friday 31st October 2014.

2014 Times and prices
Open daily at 10.00 am. From 7th April Until the end of September tours are every hour on the half hour e.g. 10.30, 11.30 - Last tour 4.30 pm
October Tours are 10.30, 12.30 & 2.30.
Admission - Adult £7.00.
Child 5 to 16 years and Senior Citizen £5.20. Family 2 adults + 2 Children £22.00.
Under 5's FREE.
N.B. Tour times may vary.
Out of season tours by prior arrangement.
Useful Facts
Onsite Car Parking is Free
The caves are cool even on a warm day and a warm top with sensible footwear is advisable
There is no crawling required, height varies from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6 metres).
Regrettably the path to the cave entrance is impractical for wheelchairs
Unfortunately dogs are NOT permitted underground.
Light refreshments and souvenirs available.

Location - Between Beer and Branscombe
Click map below for an interactive version

Quarry Map
BBC Radio 4 Open Country
BBC Open Country Click here to Listen to Helen Mark interviewing John Scott & Peter Dare in the caves.
Britains Finest

Many of us marvel at the intricacy of stonemasons' work on numerous stately buildings, cathedrals and churches. But do we ever stop to consider where the stone came from and the history of the excavation behind it?

News - Macbeth at the Caves
Macbeth For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth the Four of Swords Theatre performed Macbeth at the caves in May 2014. Tickets quickly sold out and there may be further performances later. See http://four-of-swords.com/ for more information. Click for Further info or Photo's by Matt Austin

Conducted Underground Tours
Our guides will take you on an hour long tour through the awe-inspiring caves with their mighty halls of vaulted roofs and pillars of Beer Stone which have been likened to a vast underground cathedral.

This vast man-made complex of underground caverns was created by centuries of quarrying the famous Beer Stone. The underground quarry, first worked by the Romans, supplied stone for 24 cathedrals including Exeter and St.Paul's, parts of Westminster Abbey,the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. Quarried by hand, a small block weighing 4 tons, the stone was carted on horse-drawn wagons and by barges from Beer beach to its destination, sometimes involving journeys of several hundreds of miles. The quarry closed around 1920 as a new quarry opposite was opened. This closed in 2003, so there is no quarrying activity now.

Your Journey through Time
The entrance leads directly into the Roman section, which now houses a small museum containing pieces of Beer stone carved centuries ago by skilled masons, the tools used by the Quarrymen, copies of ancient documents and photographs. A late medieval Beer stone window forms the centrepiece of the museum. From this very chamber the Romans quarried the first blocks of Beer Stone to build their villas, leaving typical Roman arches and even their tool-marks are still visible on the walls. On through the Saxon part of the workings to where the Normans quarried stone for cathedrals, castles and Manor houses. You will then get to the modern era, where saws replaced pickaxe's as the main cutting out tool.

The sheer grandeur of the mighty halls, vaulted roofs and massive supporting pillars of natural stone are awe- inspiring and have often been likened to a vast underground cathedral. As you pass through you will be shown the charcoal signatures of the quarrymen who toiled here years ago and places where bats - mostly greater or lesser horseshoe hibernate during the winter months.

Comments from the Visitors Book

This is an inspirational and moving place, inspiring awe at the extraordinary skill and industry of man throughout 2,000 years and moving because of its testament to the injustices of a system that enabled such labour to be valued so lightly - a must see destination and many congratulations on the best guided tour I have ever had.
Tim Smit Director, Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall.

A fantastic tour!
Our guide was excellent. We were laughing, scared and amazed. We both had a great time and have definitely learn a lot. Thank you so much.

Bournemouth - 22/06/2014.

Fabulous experience
Excellent guide - not to be missed.

Southport Lancs - 24/05/2014.

Absolutely fascinating.
So much effort and difficult working conditions to produce something so beautiful.

Loughborough Leics - 08/04/2014.

Thank goodness this had been preserved.
We look forward to bringing our grandchildren. An amazing journey into the past and how the caves relate to history.

Tavistock - 23/10/2013.

An amazing place; a stone underground Cathedral with a brilliant guide.
Thank you so much.

Kent - 28/09/2013.

Wow - what an experience.
The guide's affection & enthusiasm for the caves is infectious. This should be a National Treasure. I'll be recommending the caves to everyone.

Wiltshire - 24/08/2013.

Wonderful Tour.
A fantastic treasure and social record that should never be lost.

Surrey - 31/07/2013.

Absolutely amazing. An awe inspiring journey back through time. Our guide was friendly and very informative, very well worth the time spent.
We'll be back again for another visit - the tea and cakes were also excellent.

East Sussex - 17/05/2013.

An excellent informative tour of an amazing historical feature, geological study and archive of social history rolled into one. Thank you.

Exeter - 27/04/2013.

Great and interesting tour for all ages!
The guide was funny and kept everyone interested. RIP to everyone who lost their lives in the quarries.

Leicester - 28/03/2013.

One of the most atmospheric fascinating tours I have done to date.
Would definitely recommend it to others.

Worcestershire - 30/10/2012.

Probably the best guided tour I have been on.
So informative yet delivered in a wonderful way.

Honiton - 10/09/2012.

Very good fun, I would recommend to family and friends.
Good history lesson.

Taunton - 16/08/2012.

Fascinating, can't believe I left it so long before visiting.
Thank You.

Co. Limerick Ireland - 11/07/2012.

Very atmospheric place - brilliant stories from historic times.

Hemyock Devon - 30/06/2012.

Very interesting tour, really brought the caves and history of the caves to life.

Leominster Hereford - 09/05/2012.

Really interesting, definitely recommend. Child friendly, our four year old loved it and the guide really engaged him all the tour.

Hamble Southampton - 28/04/2012.

2,000 years of history, this place should never be lost. Makes us look at historic buildings in a very different light after seeing where the stone was quarried and the harsh conditions. Thank you for a fascinating afternoon.

Bodmin Cornwall - 24/10/2011.

Once again (our schools 125th. visit!) The guide did an amazing job, even the younger pupils were totally fascinated and have not stopped talking about it.

Southampton - 26/09/11.

We learned so much from a great guide. Thank you.

Zenst Belgium - 19/09/2011.

So much better than my school history lessons (by a 9 year old).

Newport Wales - 02/08/2011.

I have visited underground places all over the world but never one so fascinating or with such amazing human stories.

Cambridge - 30/07/2011.

What an incredible place! Brilliant tour with a very good guide who is obviously so interested himself.

Cannock Staffs - 21/06/2011.

Centuries of history was brought alive for us today by a very knowledgeable guide. Will definitely come again.

Gloucester - 17/05/2011.

Beer Stonecraft

History
The caves have a long and interesting history which not only includes quarrying, but also as a refuge and place of worship for Catholics during times of persecution, a hiding place for contraband in the days when Beer was home to the infamous smuggler Jack Rattenbury; legend and human interest stories abound. The quarry was worked from Roman times until the beginning of the 20th. century and the entire complex is a vast memorial to those from the village some as young as eight years old who worked here over the centuries in flickering candlelight, providing the stone we see today in some of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in England.

Masons Signature

Books about Beer Quarry Caves

Out of the Darkness By John Scott and Gladys Gray
Purchase at the caves for £2.50
Devon's Non-Metal Mines By Richard A Edwards RRP £16.99
Halsgrove Press ISBN 978-0-85704-118-0
Out Of The Darkness Devon's Non-Metal Mines

See for yourself the methods used to quarry and deliver the huge blocks of stone, the working conditions, the hardships endured and the dangers faced daily by the work-force using only the light from a flickering tallow candle and you may never again see a famous building with the same eyes. Over 20,000 visitors each year learn the secrets of the caves. Click the small picture of a cave signature to expand it.

One of the most important industrial sites in the British Isles.

Museum

Museum and Roman Area

Have a good look around, the Roman section dates from AD47 to AD350.

Saxon Area

Saxon Area

From approx. AD530 to the Norman Invasion of 1066. More of a square design than the Roman section.

Norman Area

Norman Area near a Wagon Road

The Norman section is the largest as all the great Cathedrals were built during that era.

Modern Area

Modern Cutting Out Area

At this point the quarrymen change from pick axe to saw.

Near Chapel

Near Ancient Chapel

Used during the Reformation after Henry V111 started persecution of Catholics.

Map

Map of the Tour Route

The red dots are where you will go. There is still much unexplored as it's hidden behind great piles of spoil.

Signature

Anthony Northcott Signature

Born 18/8/1735 – Died 12/4/1801. He was a Stonemason aged 22 in Jan 1758 when he wrote this.
Branscombe Parish register has an entry of his marriage on 11th July 1756.