Mining & Quarrying


Tate: In Alnwick moor three at least of the coal seams have been worked; one, a slaty coal, 36 feet below the Dun limestone, is thirty inches thick, with a metal band of variable thickness in the middle, but which, while not of a good quality, is expensive to work; the seam which is 47 feet lower still, is twenty-four inches thick, and of a better quality, one half of it being fit for domestic use; another deeper seam has been worked near the Brick Kilns and West Gate; and from the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century, when these minerals belonged to the burgesses, the town was chiefly supplied with coal from Alnwick moor. Other collieries, too , were in operation formerly near the town in the Town fields, and in the Stocken; and also in the Abbey grounds, for it is recorded in 1775 that a piece of meadow ground, one hundred yards long and fourteen yards broad, near to Alnwick Abbey, in the vicinity of some coal pits, sunk above fourteen feet. Below the coal now worked in Alnwick moor lie more valuable seams the Scremerston Main should be at the depth of 300 feet; and below that the Cancer coal at about 100 feet, and next the Cooper Eye the best of all some 80 feet deeper, and then the Wester coal, the lowest workable seam in the formation.


Tate: Sandstones are the predominating rocks in the parish, and form the bulk of the hills and high grounds; and, as building stones, many of them are valuable. From quarries in Alnwick moor, the castle and most of the houses in the town have been built. The Race Ground quarry, which is in the Calcareous group, yields a gritty sandstone, which, when first extracted, is soft and works easily with the chisel or hammer; but after exposure to atmospheric influences, it acquires on its surface a kind of skin which resists the absorption of moisture. Blocks of large size can be obtained; but the grittiness of the stone unfits it for fine mouldings. In the Reham quarry are two kinds of sandstone an upper bed is hard and suitable for flagging, and underbeds of great thickness yield a somewhat softer building stone than that on the Raceground; at Paul’s Rest and along the hill side is a hard sandstone most eligible for flags and steps; but from Stoney Peth quarry one of the best of building stones fine, hard, and durable is obtained; these sandstones are below the Dun Limestone and belong to the Carbonaceous group. In Reham are casts of large Sigillaria and Lepidodendron, and fine specimens of Ulodendronornatissimum, with large fruit scars, both on the main stem and on the bifurcating branches; in this quarry, too, specimens have been found of GyracanthusAlwicensis; and in Stoney Peth Gyracanthusobliquus, another similar fish spine Other quarries of building stones are at Brislaw, Cawledge, Heckley, and Rugley; and at Denwick there is a peculiar fine-grained sandstone, well adapted for ornamental work, not exposed to the weather.