Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Lighthouse, Pulpit Rock & Sea Caves, Portland Bill, Dorset

(Click photos to enlarge).

Portland Bill lighthouse was built in 1906 and is 35 metres (115 ft) tall. There are two earlier lighthouses relatively nearby, one of which is now a bird observatory.

Portland Bill itself is the promontory of (the eponymously named) Portland stone at the southern tip of the Isle of Portland, off the coast of Dorset in South England. Portland isn't quite a true island in that it is connected to the mainland by the sandbank formed by the eastern end of Chesil Beach (which is itself 18 miles long).

Everywhere there is evidence of the isle's history of quarrying. There are piles of Portland stone at regular intervals, and as you follow the coastline around you encounter various abandoned quarries. Near to the lighthouse is an enormous structure jutting out into the sea, known as the Pulpit Rock (pictured above). This is in fact a man-made structure formed by the quarrying process.

It's hard to tell in some parts whether the jagged coastline of Portland has been cut away by men and machines or if it has been naturally eroded. To the east of the lighthouse and approximately half a mile away there are some huge sea caverns that have, presumably, been eroded out underneath the land above by the sea.

My guess is that they were formed by a natural process, as it looks to be a very peculiar way in which to quarry stone - but if you know differently, please let me know! One of the sea caves is viewable from above through a hole in its "roof" which has a grill laid across it formed from sections of railway line.

Date visited: 9 March 2009


  1. The sea caves will have been formed by the sea erroding the limestone layer of the rock.

  2. Lived on Portland when my late husband was at the Naval station which is not there anymore,and where my children went to school,wonderful memories.