We looked at the use of marble in art, furniture, and design in a previous post, but today we want to focus on a specific type of marble: fossilised marble. The concept of using marble as tabletops in England came from the Italian precedent and became popular in the 18th century. Although many slabs of marble at this time were imported from abroad, there were notable English quarries, including a notice in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1738 that ‘the Lord Howth hath lately discovered a fine Marble Quarry on his estate at the Hill of Howth. It is finely variegated either with red, blue, yellow, and other colours, as any in Italy or Egypt.’
There was a great preoccupation at the time with the quality of marble, with fine specimens lauded for their fascinating qualities and history. Fossilised marble is a perfect example of this rare and highly prized material. The word fossil comes from the Latin word ‘dig’ and describes the whole or partial remains of ancient organisms.
Fossilised marbles contain preserved remains, or fossils, of various species of the ammonites and the nautilus. These fossils look similar in appearance to large snails, mollusk shells, or corals. The fossils in these marbles date back to the Silurian, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods between 65 and 435 million years ago.
This exceptional pair of George III giltwood tables feature magnificent fossilised marble tops. Take a closer look to see the fossils preserved in the stone in closer detail.