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Inverarish, iron ore mine, kilns and associated remains, Raasay

A Scheduled Monument in Eilean á Chèo, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3505 / 57°21'1"N

Longitude: -6.0527 / 6°3'9"W

OS Eastings: 156300

OS Northings: 836149

OS Grid: NG563361

Mapcode National: GBR C9F9.BB2

Mapcode Global: WGZ8J.0H1X

Entry Name: Inverarish, iron ore mine, kilns and associated remains, Raasay

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1997

Last Amended: 31 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6594

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: rail; Secular: kiln

Location: Portree

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises the remains of an ironstone mine and processing complex established by William Baird and Co. of Coatbridge and in operation during the First World War. The monument is located in the SW area of the Isle of Raasay on a series of S-facing slopes, from 210m above sea level in the north down to 20m above sea level at the coast. The monument was first scheduled in 1997 and is being rescheduled to amend the scheduled area and update the associated documentation.

The monument consists of a number of inter-related elements. In the north are two mines. Mine no. 1, with an entrance centred at NG 5648 3653, extends underground for 320m to the NE in a network of around 8 km of tunnels in grid formation and covering an area around 0.1121 square kilometres. The remains of a building housing ventilation equipment are located on the surface around 280m NE of the mine entrance. The remains of the main hauler house are located 60m WSW of the mine entrance and a compressor house is a further 20m to the SSW, with a weighbridge and checkers' office to its E. An explosives magazine is located 70m to the NW of the entrance. A disused inclined railway runs E for around 480m to an area of removed ore outcrop marked by a linear spoil heap measuring around 500m NE-SW. The remains of a narrow gauge railway, now dismantled and visible as a raised track bed, runs from the mine SSW for around 2.5 km to the harbour. This section of railway was carried on an iron viaduct over Inverarish Burn at NG 5618 3585 and also on a bridge across the road at NG 5643 3650. Mine no. 2 is located at NG 5582 3629 with associated buildings. A separate railway line runs around 800m from the mine to the SSE to join the main line and is carried on a viaduct over the Inverarish Burn. There is a hauler house for mine No. 2 to the south of the junction with the main line. An explosives magazine is located 125m SSE of mine no. 2 entrance.

The harbour processing and transportation complex consists of a T-shaped pier measuring 110m long by 10m wide and associated buildings and structures. A concrete built hopper for the ore, measuring up to 40m SSW by 14m transversely and 18m deep, is located around 70m NNE of the landward end of the pier. Around 12m to the NE of the end of the hopper is located a row of five calcining kiln bases, measuring a total length of 40m NW-SE by 5m transversely. A row of workshops and offices, unroofed but surviving to wall head height, is located around 100m to the NW of the hopper and measures 44m NNW-SSE by 10m transversely. Between the hopper and the offices are the remains of the power house, surviving as foundations only. A line of paired concrete gantry trestles run up the hillside to the NE of the hopper for some 100m to the concrete foundations of the crusher, which measures 18m NE-SW by 5m transversely.

Continuing up the hill to the NE is a line of railway bridge trestles. The remains of the pier incline hauler house are located 30m to the NW of the crusher and measure 10m NE-SW by 5m transversely. To the NW of the hauler house are two reservoirs. The larger, located around 95m NW of the hauler house, measures 45m N-S by 15m transversely. The smaller is located 70m to the E of the first and measures 14m NNW-SSE by around 7m transversely. Around 55m to the N of the larger reservoir are the remains of the brick pillar supports for a storage tank where oil for the main generator was held.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and eventual abandonment may survive. In the SW the scheduling extends up to but excludes the ferry waiting room and toilet block. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of all modern fence lines and all modern road surfaces to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

In spite of some deliberate dismantling, due to health and safety concerns and to recycle construction materials, the monument is a well-preserved and coherent industrial complex, built for the extraction, processing and transportation of ironstone. All parts of the process are represented, from initial underground extraction and open cast mining, to transportation, processing and final removal from site. The remains of the inter-related structures mean that the choreography of these processes is easy to read. Additionally, the short time frame of active use of the monument, a narrow window between around 1913-1919, means that the monument encapsulates a brief snapshot of the techniques used in this industry, without later additions through technological improvement obscuring the processes used. The monument has an inherent capacity to further our understanding of the industrial design and process of this industry during this period. It has an inherent potential to aid our understanding of technological and scientific developments of the industry.

Contextual characteristics

Raasay's Liassic ironstone strata, measuring an average of 2.5m thick, was recorded by H B Woodward in 1893 and surveyed by Wallace Thorneycroft, estate owner, in the first decade of the 20th century. Boreholes by William Baird and Co. of Coatbridge, a coal and mining company, proved the ore was of workable thickness, and in 1910 they purchased the estate and made plans to exploit the deposit. Approval was given in 1912 for the construction of a pier, noted as a pioneering design, and in 1913 work was approved on 'railways, mines, ore-handling plant, workshops, office, electric power plants and pier'. Initially ore was hauled by horse and cart to the pier at Clachan, to the W of the mine, at a rate of 6 loads a day. A cable-hauled railway was introduced later, powered by diesel electric motors. Production of calcined ore was initiated in September 1916 and eventually halted in February 1917. This saw the raw ore heat-treated to remove substances such as carbonic acid, water and sulphur. Once cooled the treated ore had to be crushed to break it up ready for transportation. Extraction and transportation of raw ore continued after calcining ceased. During the war years the mine was partially operated by German prisoners-of-war. Production waned at the end of the First World War and had ceased by Easter 1919. The plant was formerly abandoned on 15 May 1941 and declared derelict in 1945-6.

The earliest traces of iron production in Scotland are bloomeries where local bog iron was smelted. Several furnaces dating to the 17th and 18th centuries are known from central and Western Highlands where the raw material and the fuel needed to smelt it both occurred. The main native source of later iron production in Scotland was carboniferous ironstone, usually found in association with coal seams and shales. Initially, clayband ironstone was used, an early site being the Carron Ironworks in Falkirk established in 1760. Blackband ironstone, containing more carboniferous material and traditionally hard to process, became an important part of the iron industry in the early 19th century, when the presence of carbon in the ore made Neilson's newly discovered hot blast technique an effective and inexpensive way of extracting the iron. One of the first blackbands was discovered at Airdrie, Lanarkshire and, by 1840, the Coatbridge District was the centre of the Scottish Iron Industry. It is no coincidence that a Coatbridge firm was involved in the later exploitation of the Raasay resource. The worked blackband deposits occurred mainly in the Limestone Coal Group and the Coal Measures, with the most valuable deposits found in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. It is said that by the mid-19th century, coal and blackband ironstone were the great twin bases of the Scottish iron industry. By the late 19th century, most Scottish sources of blackband ironstone had been worked out or were no longer commercially viable and the raw material was more usually imported from England. The iron mine at Inverarish exploited Liassic ironstone, and the remote location of the resource, amongst other factors, meant that it did not become commercially viable until the period of the First World War when demand for native iron was high.

There are some traces of potentially earlier iron working on the island at Beinn Na' Leac, around 1.6 km to the E of the N end of the monument. This consists of an infilled adit, the date of which is unknown. More directly related to the monument is Inverarish Terrace 630m SSW of mine no. 2. This comprises two rows of cottages, specifically constructed to house the mine workers. The German prisoners-of war were housed in the 'upper' half of the village and the two halves separated by a fence and barbed wire with a watch tower at either end. Fourteen prisoner-of-war graves were formerly located on the island, one death as a result of an accident and the others due to disease. All were reinterred at the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, in 1967.

There is one other example of an ironstone mine that has been scheduled in Scotland, at Kirkmichael in Moray, a monument that was in use from the mid 17th century through to the mid 18th century. The Raasay monument is therefore a rare example of a type of ironstone extraction and processing of a very particular period. It is located in an area not traditionally associated with an industrial endeavour of this scale. The monument represents an important phase in iron extraction in Scotland and can be related to earlier extraction and processing sites across the country. The monument forms an inherent part of the landscape of this part of Raasay and is visible at some distance from the shore. Its dispersed nature covers a significant portion of the south of Raasay and it remains an important part of the modern landscape.

Associative characteristics

The monument is associated with Stevenson and McGuffie, Consulting Engineers of Glasgow, who were contracted to design some of the works. The owners of the mine, Messrs Baird and Co., were renowned iron masters and were described in 1869 as 'the most extensive ironmasters in Scotland', owning at that time 42 blast furnaces, employing 9,000 staff and producing 300,000 tons of pig iron per year, a quarter of all production north of the Tweed, in Ayrshire and Gartsherrie. The monument is also enhanced by its associated documents including the notebooks of the mining engineer, David T. Munro. This includes full costs for the construction of the mine.

The monument is associated with the First World War, a global conflict, and was worked by German prisoners-of-war. The war years created a large demand for iron for use in munitions, just when the conflict itself meant a loss of local manpower to work in the complex. In 1916 the mine came under the control of the Ministry of Munitions and prisoners-of-war held locally were employed in production - a controversial move which contravened the terms of the Hague Convention. The records relating to this were destroyed deliberately in 1920. It is estimated that around 280 prisoners-of-war worked in the mine between 1916 and 1918. The matter was highlighted during industrial action when the prisoners-of-war were used as strike breakers, which led to press coverage and questions in the House of Commons. The monument retains the potential to inform our understanding of 20th-century warfare and the impact of the First World War on the people and landscapes of the Western Isles and Scotland. The monument is significant to the people of Raasay and to the descendants of those who built it and worked there, as it embodies the role that this community played in the war.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular to our understanding and appreciation of Scotland's industrial heritage. The well-preserved structural elements have intrinsic merit and demonstrate the specific construction techniques and architectural design of industrial complexes of this date. It is a rare monument and associated with a particularly important episode in the history of Scotland and the world. It makes a significant contribution to the appearance of the historic and current landscape. Its loss or diminution would impede significantly our ability to understand the function, location and use of such monuments in the Western Isles and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of industry of this period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the pier as NG 53 SE 3; Mine no. 1 as Ng 53 NE 8; the mineral railway as NG 53 NE 9; the Fanner/Blowing house as NG 53 NE 13; the surface buildings of Mine no. 1 as NG 53 NE 14; the ironstone mine as NG 53 NE 16; the ore bin as NG 53 SE 25; the dismantled railway as NG 53 NE 111.00; and the railway bridge as NG 53 NE 111.01. The Highland Sites and Monuments Record note the monument as MHG6521.


Beveridge R, Brown S, Gallagher M and Merritt J 1991 Economic Geology in Craig G Y (ed.) Geology of Scotland. The Geological Society: London

Bremner D 1869 The Manufacture of Ironstone, in The Industries of Scotland: Their Rise, Progress and Present Condition.

Draper L and P 1990 The Raasay iron mine: where enemies became friends.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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