Old Harry Rocks are three chalk formations, including a stack and a stump, located at Handfast Point, on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, southern England. They mark the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
|Old Harry Rocks|
|Location||Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, England|
|Part of||Jurassic Coast|
Old Harry Rocks lies directly east of Studland, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northeast of Swanage, and about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the large towns of Poole and Bournemouth. To the south are the chalk cliffs of Ballard Down, much of which is owned by the National Trust. The rocks can be viewed from the Dorset section of the South West Coast Path.
The chalk of Old Harry Rocks used to be part of a long stretch of chalk between Purbeck and the Isle of Wight, but remained as a headland after large parts of this seam were eroded away. As the headland suffered hydraulic action (a process in which air and water are forced into small cracks by the force of the sea, resulting in enlarging cracks), first caves, then arches formed. The tops of the arches collapsed after being weakened by rainfall and wind, leaving disconnected stacks. One of these stacks is known as Old Harry. Old Harry's Wife was another stack which was eroded through corrosion and abrasion, until the bottom was so weak the top fell away, leaving a stump. Hydraulic action is the main cause of erosion (sheer force of the wave) that damaged the rock and caused it to fall away.
The downlands of Ballard Down are formed of chalk with some bands of flint, and were formed approximately 66 million years ago. The bands of stone have been gradually eroded over the centuries, some of the earlier stacks having fallen (Old Harry's original wife fell in 1509), while new ones have been formed by the breaching of narrow isthmuses. Across the water to the east The Needles on the Isle of Wight are usually visible. These are also part of the same chalk band and only a few thousand years ago were connected to Ballard Down.
To form the stacks, the sea gradually eroded along the joints and bedding planes where the softer chalk meets harder bedrock of the rock formations to create a cave. This eventually eroded right through to create an arch. The arch subsequently collapsed to leave the stacks of Old Harry and his wife, No Man's Land and the gap of St Lucas' Leap. The large outcrop of rock at the end of the cliffs is often referred to as "No Man's Land".
Old Harry is formed by erosion processes, which will eventually remove the stack, whilst new stacks develop. Some people desire to preserve the rocks and protect them from the erosive processes that formed Old Harry. The National Trust, who own the stacks in perpetuity, have experience in looking after the coast, and have found that "working with natural processes is the most sustainable approach".
There are various stories about the naming of the rocks. One legend says that the Devil (traditionally known euphemistically as "Old Harry") slept on the rocks. Another local legend says that the rocks were named after Harry Paye, the infamous Poole pirate, whose ship hid behind the rocks awaiting passing merchantmen. Yet another tale has it that a ninth-century Viking raid was thwarted by a storm and that one of the drowned, Earl Harold, was turned into a pillar of chalk.
Ballard Down is an area of chalk downland on the Purbeck Hills in the English county of Dorset. The hills meet the English Channel here, and Ballard Down forms a headland, Ballard Point, between Studland Bay to the north and Swanage Bay to the south. The chalk here forms part of a system of chalk downlands in southern England, and once formed a continuous ridge between what is now west Dorset and the present day Isle of Wight. Old Harry Rocks, just offshore from the dip slope of the down, and The Needles on the westernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, are remnants of this ridge. The scarp slope of the down faces south, over Swanage, meeting the sea as Ballard Cliff.
The down was an area of calcareous grassland for up to 1000 years until World War II, when there was a sudden rise in the need for arable agricultural land. The down is now owned by the National Trust, and has largely been returned to grassland. The National Trust allows grazing on the down to prevent it becoming a natural beech woodland climax community.
The obelisk at Ballard Down commemorates the provision of a new supply of drinking water for Swanage in 1883. It was taken down in 1941 as it was a landmark that might have aided enemy aircraft during World War II, but was re-erected in 1952.
Ballard Down forms the easternmost part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.The BBC's adaptation of EM Forster's novel 'Howards End' (2017) used Ballard Down as a location.Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre
The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is based in the upstairs floor of a long-disused cement factory on the foreshore of Charmouth in Dorset, England.
The centre operates as an independent registered charity within the larger framework of the UNESCO Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site, known as the "Jurassic Coast". The Jurassic Coast stretches over a distance of 155 kilometres (96 mi), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth, in the west, to Old Harry Rocks, in the east. The coastal exposures along the coastline provide a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning approximately 185 million years of the Earth's history. The localities along the Jurassic Coast includes a large range of important fossil zones.
Entry to the centre and all of its displays is free and, as such, the centre is dependent upon money generated from walks and events as well as charitable donations from the public. It has also received Heritage Lottery Fund grants. The centre was set up in 1985 by local residents, in response to concerns about damage being done to the cliffs by fossil hunters. The role of the centre has always been primarily as an educator and it has undergone several phases of expansion as the demand from the public and from school groups has risen.In 2014 a grant from the Primary Science Teaching Trust enabled the provision of a classroom and resources designed to help local children achieve the requirements of the National Curriculum.Cliffed coast
A cliffed coast, also called an abrasion coast, is a form of coast where the action of marine waves has formed steep cliffs that may or may not be precipitous. It contrasts with a flat or alluvial coast.Discordant coastline
A discordant coastline occurs where bands of different rock type run perpendicular to the coast.
The differing resistance to erosion leads to the formation of headlands and bays. A hard rock type such as granite is resistant to erosion and creates a promontory whilst a softer rock type such as the clays of Bagshot Beds is easily eroded creating a bay.
Part of the Dorset coastline running north from the Portland limestone of Durlston Head is a clear example of a discordant coastline. The Portland limestone is resistant to erosion; then to the north there is a bay at Swanage where the rock type is a softer greensand. North of Swanage, the chalk outcrop creates the headland which includes Old Harry Rocks.
The converse of a discordant coastline is a concordant coastline.Downland
A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as downs, deriving from a Celtic word for "hills".East Devon
East Devon is a local government district in Devon, England. Its council has been based in Honiton since February 2019, and the largest town is Exmouth (with a population of 34,432 at the time of the 2011 census).
The district was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of the borough of Honiton with the urban districts of Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Ottery St. Mary, Seaton, Sidmouth along with Axminster Rural District, Honiton Rural District and part of St Thomas Rural District.
East Devon is covered by two Parliamentary constituencies, East Devon and Tiverton and Honiton. Both were retained in the 2010 general election by the Conservative Party, and are represented by Sir Hugo Swire and Neil Parish respectively.
In the 2001 census it was found that a third of East Devon's population were over 60. The average for England was 24%. East Devon also had a higher number of people living in "Medical and Care Establishments" at 1.6% compared to the England average of 0.9%.
The council area covers the area of Devon furthest to east, stretching all the way from Exeter to the county border with Dorset and Somerset.
A large amount of East Devon is made up of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), East Devon AONB and the Blackdown Hills. AONBs have the same level of protection as National parks of England and Wales which restricts new developments, which protects the natural beauty of this district.
The entire East Devon coastline from Exmouth to the border with Dorset is part of the designated World Heritage Site called the Jurassic Coast; the designated area itself continues up to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage.Isle of Purbeck
The Isle of Purbeck is a peninsula in Dorset, England. It is bordered by water on three sides: the English Channel to the south and east, where steep cliffs fall to the sea; and by the marshy lands of the River Frome and Poole Harbour to the north. Its western boundary is less well defined, with some medieval sources placing it at Flower's Barrow above Worbarrow Bay. According to writer and broadcaster Ralph Wightman, Purbeck "is only an island if you accept the barren heaths between Arish Mell and Wareham as cutting off this corner of Dorset as effectively as the sea." The most southerly point is St Alban's Head (archaically St. Aldhelm's Head). Its coastline is suffering from erosion.
The whole of the Isle of Purbeck lies within the local government district of Purbeck, which is named after it. However the district extends significantly further north and west than the traditional boundary of the Isle of Purbeck along the River Frome.
In terms of natural landscape areas, the southern part of the Isle of Purbeck and the coastal strip as far as Ringstead Bay in the west, have been designated as National Character Area 136 - South Purbeck by Natural England. To the north are the Dorset Heaths and to the west, the Weymouth Lowlands.Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles (154 km), and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001.The site spans 185 million years of geological history, coastal erosion having exposed an almost continuous sequence of rock formation covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. At different times, this area has been desert, shallow tropical sea and marsh, and the fossilised remains of the various creatures that lived here have been preserved in the rocks.
Natural features seen on this stretch of coast include arches, pinnacles and stack rocks. In some places the sea has broken through resistant rocks to produce coves with restricted entrances, and in one place, the Isle of Portland is connected to the land by a narrow spit. In some parts of the coast, landslides are common. These have exposed a wide range of fossils, the different rock types each having its own typical fauna and flora, thus providing evidence of how animals and plants evolved in this region.
The area around Lulworth Cove contains a fossil forest, and 71 different rock strata have been identified at Lyme Regis, each with its own species of ammonite. The fossil collector Mary Anning lived here and her major discoveries of marine reptiles and other fossils were made at a time when the study of palaeontology was just starting to develop. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre provides information on the heritage coast, and the whole length of the site can be visited via the South West Coast Path.List of sea stacks
The following list enumerates and expands on notable sea stacks, including former sea stacks that no longer exist.Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove is a cove near the village of West Lulworth, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, southern England. The cove is one of the world's finest examples of such a landform, and is a World Heritage Site and tourist location with approximately 500,000 visitors every year, of whom about 30 percent visit in July and August. It is close to the rock arch of Durdle Door and other Jurassic Coast sites.Parson's Barn
Parson's Barn is a large sea-level cavern below the Ballard Point cliffs, between Studland and Swanage bays in the English Channel. Ballard Point is the headland of the Ballard Downs, an area of chalk downland, on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, southern England.
Parson's Barn lies directly east of Studland, a few hundred metres south of Handfast Point and the Old Harry Rocks. The cave is about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of Swanage.
The sea once washed a huge hole in the base of the cliffs. This cavern was then used as a smugglers cave. A large section has collapsed since then and has been eroded away by the sea. Now only a few chalk stacks remain, these are called the Pinnacles. The waves have cut arches through the base of the stacks.Purbeck District
Purbeck was a local government district in Dorset, England. The district was named after the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula that forms a large proportion of the district's area. However it extended significantly further north and west than the traditional boundary of the Isle of Purbeck along the River Frome. The district council was based in the town of Wareham, which is itself north of the River Frome.
The district was formed under the Local Government Act 1972 on 1 April 1974, from the former municipal borough of Wareham, Swanage urban district and Wareham and Purbeck Rural District.
The district and its council were abolished on 1 April 2019 and, together with the other four districts outside the greater Bournemouth area, to form a new Dorset unitary authority.Its name is recorded in 948 AD as Anglo-Saxon Purbicinga, meaning "of the people of Purbic", where Purbic may be a former Celtic name, or may contain a supposed Anglo-Saxon word *pur or "male lamb".Purbeck Hills
The Purbeck Hills, also called the Purbeck Ridge, are a ridge of chalk downs in Dorset, England. The ridge extends from Lulworth Cove in the west to Old Harry Rocks in the east, where it meets the sea. The hills are part of a system of chalk downlands in southern England formed from the Chalk Group which also includes Salisbury Plain and the South Downs. For most of their length the chalk of the Purbeck Hills is protected from coastal erosion by a band of resistant Portland limestone. Where this band ends, at Durlston Head, the clay and chalk behind has been eroded, creating Poole Bay and the Solent. The ridge of steeply dipping chalk that forms the Purbeck Hills continues further east on the Isle of Wight.
The height of the chalk ridge and proximity to Poole Harbour and the south coast have made the hills of strategic importance. There are a number of Iron Age, Roman and Saxon archaeological sites, such as Nine Barrow Down. At Corfe Castle the hills are broken twice leaving a steep round hill between the ridges on which stood a medieval castle, guarding the only easy route through the hills, until the English Civil War of the 17th century, when it was slighted.
Some of the ridge, around the village of Tyneham, near Lulworth, has been closed to the public for use by the army as a firing range. This has protected them from damage from farming and development, and these areas are now nature reserves. At the eastern end Ballard Down is a National Trust nature reserve which is managed for its calcareous grassland habitat.Purbeck Monocline
The Purbeck Monocline is a geological fold in southern England. The term 'fold' is used in geology when one or more originally flat sedimentary strata surfaces are bent or curved as a result of plastic (i.e. permanent) deformation. A monocline is a step-like fold, in which one limb is roughly horizontal. The Purbeck Monocline was formed during the late Oligocene and early Miocene epochs, about 30 million years ago. It is the northernmost 'ripple' of the Alpine Orogeny.
The Purbeck Monocline gives rise to the prominent ridge of steeply dipping Cretaceous chalk which now forms the Purbeck Hills. This chalk band runs from Swyre Head via Flower's Barrow to Old Harry Rocks. From here the fold continues under the sea to The Needles and forms the central spine of the Isle of Wight. Here it is also known as the Purbeck-Isle of Wight Disturbance. The monocline continues under the English Channel as the Wight-Bray Monocline.
The Purbeck Hills run east–west through the small broad peninsula known as the Isle of Purbeck. The resistant beds of chalk and limestone form two ridges and the softer Wealden rocks between them have been eroded to form a valley.
Some visible features along the monocline include the disharmonic folds and faults, known as the Lulworth Crumple, at Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Arish Mell and at Peveril Point further east. These features also include the polygonal thrust ridges developed in the harder rock bands at Kimmeridge Bay and related to the growth of the monocline is the fault at Ballard Down.Solent
The Solent ( SOH-lənt) is the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. It is about 20 miles (32 kilometres) long and varies in width between 2 1⁄2 and 5 mi (4 and 8 km), although the Hurst Spit which projects 1 1⁄2 mi (2.4 km) into the Solent narrows the sea crossing between Hurst Castle and Colwell Bay to just over 1 mi (1.6 km).
The Solent is a major shipping lane for passenger, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually. It is sheltered by the Isle of Wight and has a complex tidal pattern, which has benefited Southampton's success as a port, providing a "double high tide" that extends the tidal window during which deep-draught ships can be handled. Portsmouth lies on its shores. Spithead, an area off Gilkicker Point near Gosport, is known as the place where the Royal Navy is traditionally reviewed by the monarch of the day.
The area is of great ecological and landscape importance, particularly because of the coastal and estuarine habitats along its edge. Much of its coastline is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. It is bordered by and forms a part of the character of a number of nationally important protected landscapes including the New Forest National Park, and the Isle of Wight AONB.Stair Hole
Stair Hole is a small cove located just west of Lulworth Cove in Dorset, southern England. The folded limestone strata known as the Lulworth crumple are particularly visible at Stair Hole. There are several caves visible from the seaward side of Stair Hole; Cathedral Cavern is supported by pillars of rock rising out of the water. The rock structure was created during the Alpine orogeny and exposed by subsequent erosion.
Stair Hole featured in Nuts in May, a Play for Today directed by Mike Leigh, and in Five on a Treasure Island, a 1957 film serial by the Children's Film Foundation and was the background for the climatic sword fight between George Baker and Peter Arne in The Moonraker (1957).Swanage
Swanage () is a coastal town and civil parish in the south east of Dorset, England. It is at the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck and one of its two towns, approximately 6 1⁄4 miles (10 km) south of Poole and 25 miles (40 km) east of Dorchester. In the 2011 census the civil parish had a population of 9,601. Nearby are Ballard Down and Old Harry Rocks, with Studland Bay and Poole Harbour to the north. Within the parish are Durlston Bay and Durlston Country Park to the south of the town. The parish also includes the areas of Herston, just to the west of the town, and Durlston, just to the south.
The town, originally a small port and fishing village, flourished in the Victorian era, when it first became a significant quarrying port and later a seaside resort for the rich of the day. Today the town remains a popular tourist resort, this being the town's primary industry, with many thousands of visitors coming to the town during the peak summer season, drawn by the bay's sandy beaches and other attractions.
During its history the bay was listed variously as Swanawic, Swanwich and Sandwich, and only in more recent history as Swanage.The town is located at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. The town contains many listed buildings and two conservation areas – Swanage Conservation Area and Herston Conservation Area.The Pinnacles (Dorset)
The Pinnacles are two chalk formations, including a stack and a stump, located near Handfast Point, on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, southern England.