The Stones in Charlecote’s Pietra Dura table

Our House elves have almost completed their winter clean and we’re almost ready to reopen the doors and welcome visitors to our House once again. To whet your appetite, we thought we’d share some information about one of our top objects – the pietra dura table in the Great Hall.

Detail of the Lucy table from the Library at Charlecote with carved oak base and pietra dura top, purchased in 1824 from Thomas Emmerson.

Detail of the Lucy table from the Library at Charlecote with carved oak base and pietra dura top, purchased in 1824 from Thomas Emmerson.

It is an item of the collection that really does make you stop and look a little. Many of our visitors ask the guides about this table so in this post Frank, one of our Tuesday guides, will tell you more…

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Travertine:

Charlecote_pietra dura_travertine
The large central stone is travertine, also called alabaster, comprises mainly of the mineral calcite (3 on the Mohs scale) and therefore fairly soft and easily worked. It is formed by the calcite deposits of hot springs and colouring is caused by the inclusion of iron oxides and other impurities.

This one is known in Italian as alabastro a tartaruga from its resemblance to a
tortoise shell (tartaruga is Italian for tortoise). It is found in the hot spring deposits of Iona in Tuscany. Travertines are also known in the stone trade as oriental onyx or onyx marble but in geological terms they are neither onyx nor marble. Continue reading