Filey Brigg Ancient Quarry
Filey Brigg has been used as a quarry since ancient times. The 4th Century Roman Signal station was built from Filey Brigg Stone. Parts of Bridlington Priory and other churches in the area were also built using the same material. The Chartulary of Bridlington Priory contains this contract dated 1230:
GRANT by Ralph de Neuill son of Ralph de Neuill to the Canons, of
building stone in the quarry of Fiuele for the fabric of their monastery and
Offices (officinarum) to be taken where and as much as they wish, at
their own cost. He also grants a full and free road over the rocks
(super falesium) of the quarry for the whole length of the said rocks, as well
in the place called Le Hok as elsewhere where they can find stone, with free
ingress and egress for their carts to carry it. Warranty. Testimonium.
These being witnesses, etc,
The stone used on the Brigg was a type of Calcareous grit, known as Birdsall Grit. Quarrying was the right of the Manor of Humanby and only ceased early in the 20th Century. The badly eroded cliffs in Filey Brigg Corner are a result of the removal of a huge amount of stone.
A report on the Archaeology of this section of coast and photographs of quarrying activities can be found at the English Heritage Site.
The strange numbers of Filey Brigg Quarry
As you walk along from the sands onto Filey Brigg, along the side of the cliff are cut a series of numbers from 10 to 15 . These are cut into the quarried rock (Birdsall Grit) which was removed from this area from Victorian times. There are two explanations for the numbers, one is that they were used to mark out sections when stone was removed in Victorian times. This seems likely as number 15 is carved in an area where the strata of useable stone dives beneath the ground. An alternative explanation which my grandfather told me when I was a young boy is that the numbers refer to sections of the seashore which local fishermen used to store their bags of mussels on the seashore to keep them fresh. At least one local history book provides a similar explanation with the exception that they were meant to delimit areas where fishermen gathered their bait from the seashore.
It is difficult to see how fishermen could possibly have sourced an adequate amount of bait as in limpets (‘flithers’) and mussels given the small areas involved. The most likely explanation is that they were quarry marks, that might possibly have been used for other purposes after the quarry closed . Any number of other explanations are possible including the possibility they were carved on a whim.
There appears to be no number 13 which implies the carver may have been superstitious.
The Spittals Filey Brigg – Refuge or Rocky Debris?
The Spittals are on the South side of Filey Brigg. Local Tradition has it that they are a Roman Pier but since the 1920′s a dispute has arisen about whether they are natural or man made. The Spittals is a spectacular structure, it is 600 metres long with only the first third exposed at very low tides. It rises up from the sandy bottom like a massive underwater railway embankment. Whatever it’s origin it is one of the most interesting and important underwater features on the North Sea Coast.
Filey Brigg Spittals Underwater
In 1995 a group of local divers the Filey Brigg Research Group started working on the structure. Over the years hundreds of underwater photographs, measurements and rock samples were taken. A marine surveyor and sub-contractor to the Admiralty took comprehensive electronic soundings.
All the evidence gathered suggests that Spittals is not of natural origin. It was possibly built in Medieval or even Roman times as a harbour or to serve the Filey Brigg Quarry.
Read our report and conclusions :Filey Brigg Report on Spittals Rocks
240 meter transect photo 7
240 meter transect photo 6
240 meter transect photo 5
240 meter transect photo 4
240 meter transect photo 3
240 meters transect photo 2
Spittals basemarker 240 meters from shore
Spittals view with named structures
Aerial view of Filey Brigg low spring tide
Filey Brigg Spittals Underwater
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