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Belnahua, slate quarries and settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Oban North and Lorn, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.2524 / 56°15'8"N

Longitude: -5.6918 / 5°41'30"W

OS Eastings: 171402

OS Northings: 712780

OS Grid: NM714127

Mapcode National: GBR DDB6.1LR

Mapcode Global: WH0H7.J3TP

Entry Name: Belnahua, slate quarries and settlement

Scheduled Date: 15 February 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13216

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: mines, quarries

Location: Jura

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises the extensive remains of the slate quarrying industry on the island of Belnahua: its excavations, waste material, associated industrial and domestic buildings, machinery, infrastructure and other archaeological evidence, dating mainly from the middle of the 18th to the early 20th century.

The remains are visible as two substantial quarries (now flooded), widespread loose material (the by-product of slate extraction and processing), and the buildings, machinery and infrastructure used to excavate, process and transport the slate, and accommodate and service the quarry workers and their families. The main quarry measures up to 180m across and occupies a significant part of the island.

The scheduled area is the whole island extending to the Mean Low Water (Springs), to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of the sole roofed building, located in the south east of the island and formerly known as 'the shop', to allow for its occupation, together with the building extensions immediately north and south of its western end.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular, the development of the slate quarrying industry in Scotland. Belnahua is one of the 'Slate Islands' which became known for the quality and robustness of the roofing tiles produced from their quarries and exported to various parts of the world. Belnahua is particularly important as it has lain almost undisturbed since quarrying ceased in the early 20th century, which means that the remains are unusually well preserved. This intact relict industrial landscape of quarries, waste material and related infrastructure and accommodation is a key element in the story of Scotland's industrial heritage. Collectively, the surviving remains can tell us much about developments in the winning of slate and the associated industrial processes, and changes in the daily lives of the quarrymen and their families, over some 150 years. As well as the clearly visible remains across the island, the flooded quarries are known to contain well-preserved equipment and other archaeological evidence. In addition, documentary and historical evidence for the companies that operated here, including records and plans of the surviving remains, and for the daily lives of the quarries and their families, can add to our understanding and the interest of the site. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the Scottish slate industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as CANMORE NM71SNW 2 and by the West of Scotland Archaeology Service as WOSAS PIN 877.

Hay, G D and Stell, G P 1986, Monuments of Industry: An illustrated historical record, RCAHMS. Edinburgh.

Historic Scotland, 2000, Scottish Slate. The potential for use (= circulated typescript report). Historic Scotland. Edinburgh.

Hume, J R 1977, The industrial archaeology of Scotland. 2. The Highlands and Islands. Batsford. London.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 2: Lorn. HMSO. Edinburgh.

Tucker, D G, 1977, 'The slate islands of Scotland: The history of the Scottish slate industry', Business History 19, 1, 18-36.

Walsh, J 2002, Scottish Roofing Slate: Characteristics and tests (= circulated Historic Scotland typescript report). Historic Scotland. Edinburgh.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/22639/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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