Coquina is the shell-rock used to build the Castillo de San Marcos – the great Spanish fortress protecting St. Augustine. Recently we were riding our bicycles on Anastasia and paid a visit to the Royal Quarry site. You’ll find it just off A1A at the entrance to Anastasia State Park.
A short walk through the scrub oak brings you to the northern lip of the quarry. Today it’s hard to imagine the hustle and bustle of a quarry when looking over this idyllic site.
As you walk into the quarry you will begin to see signs of the work that once took place here. Some of the stones still bear the scoring marks used to cut the coquina from the quarry. After chipping lines like you see here, wedges were hammered into the grooves and crowbars used to break the blocks free from the mass.
One wall still shows the work performed here. This site operated from about 1671. Originally, only blocks for the construction of the Castillo and other government buildings were removed from the site. It wasn’t until 1689 that the site was opened to the public. Because it takes months for the shell-rock to “cure” before it can be used in construction, it’s seldom used for building today. You will find it frequently used in landscapes.
As you leave the quarry – and Anastasia State Park – look for the narrow road separating the two parking lots at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm [located across A1A from the park entrance]. Aptly named Quarry Road, this is where the stones were dragged to the creek so they could be floated across the bay to the Castillo construction site. Artifacts from a small Indian village can be found – with a bit of digging – just behind the Alligator Farm property. Possibly this was home to some of the quarry workers.