Caen stone (French: Pierre de Caen), is a light creamy-yellow Jurassic
limestone quarried in north-western France near the city of Caen. The
limestone is a fine grained oolitic limestone formed in shallow water
lagoons in the
Bathonian Age about 167 million years ago. The
stone is homogeneous, and therefore suitable for carving.
1 Use in building
1.1 Notable examples
2 See also
Use in building
The stone was first used for building in the
Gallo-Roman period with
production from open cast quarries restarting in the 11th century.
Shipped to England, Canterbury Cathedral,
Westminster Abbey and the
Tower of London
Tower of London were all partially built from
Caen stone. Underground
mining developed in the 19th century, but the stone trade declined in
the 20th century eventually ceasing in the 1960s. Excavation restarted
in the 1980s with the stone being used for building the
A 2004 decree by
Caen city council authorised the annual quarrying of
9000 tonnes of stone.
Caen stone was used in the construction of the late 11th century
austere Norman Romanesque Church of Saint-Étienne, at the
Abbaye-aux-Hommes (on the east side of Caen), which was founded by
William the Conqueror, whose tomb is located there.
The Norman Romanesque Church of La Trinité, at the Abbaye-aux-Dames
(on the west side of the city), was founded by William's wife,
Matilda. Her tomb is located there.
Both abbeys in
Caen were built with
Caen stone in Norman Romanesque
style, and both were unscathed by heavy aerial bombing in July 1944
that destroyed much of the city, as they were being used by the local
populace to shelter from the air raids.
Used by the Normans for the cathedral and castle in Norwich, where it
was brought by boat up the River Wensum.
Caen stone was also used
extensively in Canterbury cathedral. It was used by Henry I of England
Reading Abbey and fine examples of Romanesque sculpture in Caen
stone are in the collection at the Museum of Reading. Perhaps the most
famous building in
Caen stone built in Norman times is the Tower of
Caen stone continued to be a popular material in Britain after the
Norman period. For example, it was used for parts of the 19th century
clock tower at the Palace of Westminster.
Caen stone has also been exported to the United States, Bermuda and
recently Saudi Arabia. The narthex screen on the east wall of the
Old South Church
Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts is built of
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
List of types of limestone
Geology of Normandy (French Language)
List of buildings which have used
Caen Stone (French Language)
"La Pierre de Caen", press Article in "Patrimoine Normand" (French
^ page 28 of guidebook published by the Society of Friends of St