Shap has more recently built up around its quarrying activities. As well as limestone, there is the Shap blue granite, and the more famous Shap pink granite, seen throughout Britain in kerbstones and building frontages, and both quarried about two miles south from the village, near Shap Summit.
Shap pink granite is a beige/pink stone, which is Igneous, meaning it was formed as molten rock – Magma – and then cooled. Crystals then formed to produce an interlocking meshwork. It was formed some 400 million years ago in the Devonian period when the landscape was very different from how it is today – imagine lots of volcanic activity and a very barren landscape and you’ll get the picture. If you take a close look at the stone you’ll see large pink crystals embedded in the rock – these were formed in very hot melts rising from the interior of the Earth. The Shap Granite formed very slowly within these melts, which is why the crystals are so big.
The ‘blue’ quarried rock is used exclusively for hardcore purposes, and as aggregate for tarmacadam and concrete plants. This stone is found to be superior to other chippings use in road making, because it does not break easily and therefore does not require replacing so frequently.
Shap Beck Quarry, north of the village, produces limestone, which is supplied to the Shapfell works just south of the village, where it is used for the large scale production of lime, used in steelmaking.
Aerial photos by Simon Ledingham.
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