Beer Quarry Caves, Quarry Lane, Beer - East Devon
The caves are now closed until Monday 14th April 2014.
See Contact for out of season private tours.
Open daily at 10.00 am. 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.
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
Click here to Listen to Helen Mark interviewing John Scott & Peter Dare in the caves.
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?
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.
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.
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 - 31/07/2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.