Lead and zinc ores of Scotland Area III. Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, Elginshire and Aberdeenshire

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From: Wilson, G.V. with contibutions by J.S. Flett. The lead, zinc, copper and nickel ores of Scotland. Special Reports on the Mineral Resources of Great Britain Vol. XVII: Edinburgh : HMSO, 1921.

This area comprises the rest of the mainland of Scotland and the Western Isles, except the county of Caithness.

Most of the veins occur in rocks of metamorphic origin, but a few have been found in the Cambrian limestones of the North-West Highlands, and another occurs in the red sandstones of Elgin. The mines are usually small, and little work has been done at any of them.

Inverness-shire. Details of the mines and veins[edit]

Strath Glass (Abandoned)[edit]

Proprietor: Lord Lovat.

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 83; six-inch, Inverness 17 N.W.

Situation. This mining district is situated on the west side of

Strath Glass, and lies from 2 to 3 miles S.S.W. of Struy Bridge. The nearest railway station is Beauly, some 10 miles further to the E.N.E.

History.--The mines appear to have been known for a considerable time, and were wrought on a small scale during the first half of the last century. No figures of output are available.

Several veins occur in the district. They are usually associated with east-and-west lines of crush, and consist mainly of broken Moine-schist (country-rock). One vein trends north-east, and its relation to its eastand-west set is not known. The veins vary from mere strings to 6 ft. in thickness, and usually only the central part is metalliferous. The ores are galena and zinc-blende in small quantities, together with a little pyromorphite of secondary origin. The gangue is mainly pink barytes and calcite.[1]

Active mining operations have been carried on at three different localities, which are shown as old lead mines on the six,inch map of the district. The first and more northerly vein occurs one and a quarter miles S.S.W. of Struy Lodge, and follows the course of a small stream. The vein is about 20 in. thick, hades to the south, and consists of fault breccia, with strings of calcite and barytes carrying a little galena and blende. A level has been driven a short distance along the course of' 'the vein, which trends a few degrees N. of W.

The second working occurs about a quarter of a mile further south.

The vein trends about 30° N. of E., and varies in width from 6 in. at the eastern end of the exposure to 1 ft. further upstream. A few yards up again it begins to split and open out, and near the mouth of the old level is about 6 ft. wide. It contains a few strings of barytes and calcites, together with a little galena and blende.

The third working occurs some three-quarters of a mile to the west, and about 300 yds. north of the west end of Loch na Meine (Loch of the Ore). The vein is not seen, but from the position of the old shaft and surface workings it trends 5° north-of-west. The operations here seem to have been on rather a larger scale than at the other two localities, and remains of the engine house and sluices can still be made out.

Assays of ore from the mines are as follows:[2] :

Mine Percentage of Lead Ozs. of Silver to ton of Ore Date of Assay
No. 2 75 4.5 1838
No. 3 371 7 1844
No. 3 62 22 oz. 10 dwt. 1845
No. 3 62 22 oz. 10 dwt. 1867

Ben Nevis[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 53; six-inch, Inverness 150.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century[3] a vein of lead ore was discovered on the west side of Ben Nevis, but no attempt was made to, work it. The vein is said to trend east-and-west through red granite, and to be 4 or 5 in. in thickness. It consists of about one and a half inches of galena, together with marcasite. Another vein of a similar nature is mentioned as occurring at Inverscaddle. A trial had been made on this vein, but with little result.

lnchnacardoch (Abandoned)[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 73; six-inch, Inverness 68 S.W.

An old lead mine is said to be situated in. the wood behind Inchnacardoch, and about half a mile north of Fort Augustus.

Stratheontair Vein[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 71: six-inch, Inverness 63 N.W.

The vein is to be seen in the bed of the burn about 400 yds. slightly east-of-north of Strathcomair.[4] It is 4 to 6 in. in width, trends N.N.W., and hades S.S.W., but can only be traced a short distance. The infilling consists of galena, with spathic iron ore and chalcopyrite. The country-rock is crumpled biotite-schist. An assay is said to have yielded 65 ozs. of silver to the ton of lead.

Ross-shire. Details of the mines and veins[edit]

Glen Calvie Veins[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 93; six-inch, Ross 25 S.E.

The locality was noted by the late Dr. C. T. Clough.[5] It occurs on the sides of a small stream on the west side of Glen Calvie, and about one and a quarter miles upstream from Glen Calvie Lodge. The vein occupies a line of crush, and is associated with a dyke of lamprophyre. It trends E.N.E., and hades N.N.W. at 70°. The zone of crush is in places 8 or 9 ft. wide, and is strung through with veins of quartz and spathic iron ore, which carry small crystals of galena and iron pyrites.

Loch Gharbaig and Letterewe Veins[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 92; six-inch (Loch Gharbaig) Ross 58 N.E. (Letterewe), Ross 58 N.W.

In the explanation of Sheet 92[6] mention is made of several thin veins of calcite which were found to carry ores of lead and copper.

The first of these occur in a mass of hornblende-schist and is associated with a N.N.E. line of fracture, which crosses the burn about half a mile N.N.W. of Gharbaig. The vein, which is at least one yard wide, is seen on the east side of the fault. It is nearly vertical, and contains a good deal of galena and chalcopyrite.

At the second locality the country-rock is Lewisian gneiss. A thin vein of calcite, carrying a little galena and pyrites, can be traced for a distance of about 50 yards in a north-east direction along the burns about three-quarters of a mile N.N.E. of Letterewe House.

Kiltearn Trial[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 93; six-inch, Ross 64.

A vein of lead is said to occur in the Allt-nan-Caorach (a tributary of the Allt Grand). A trial was made about 1755, and the ore raised is said to have yielded good lead.[7]

Elginshire. Details of the mines and veins[edit]

Lossiemouth Mine (Abandoned)[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 95; six-inch, Elgin 2 N.B.

The old mine is situated on the coast, about half a mile north-west of Lossiemouth.

Williams[8] makes the following statement about the occurrence of lead ore:

" There is a singular stratum of stone near Lossymouth, in the shire of Moray, of about 8 ft. thick, which is compounded of several species of lard and fine stones of various beautiful colours. This stratum is a species of breccia, or puddingstone, in the, composition of which there is blended, in some part of it, about an eighth part of good blue lead ore, of the species called potter's ore. This curious bed of stone lies in a horizontal position, and dips away towards the north, under the Moray Firth, with an easy slope; and the lead is found in larger and smaller grains and flowers blended through the whole body and composition of the stone, in the same manner as the small masses of agate, white and coloured crystals, and other species of stone, are found blended through the whole body of the stratum."

The (possibly) Jurassic rocks of this district are highly charged with mineral matter, and the metalliferous minerals are mainly associated with a bed of limy chert. At the old mine this bed passes down into a hard, white sandstone, which also contains a good deal of disseminated galena.

The mine has only been worked on a small scale, and the ore was taken direct in wheelbarrows to boats beached near the workings. According to "Mineral Statistics" (Mem. Geol. Surv.), 8 tons If ore, which yielded 6 tons of lead, were raised in 1880.

In an account of the mine given by Wallace[9] , the deposit is stated to occur in a true fissure vein, which trends south-west, and hades north-west at 80°. Mr. H. H. Read, who has recently visited the mine, states that the ore is generally scattered through the chert, but is most plentiful along and near to the joints.

Galena occurring under similar circumstances has been noted at several other localities in the district, near Stobfield, about half a mile west of Lossiemouth, also with fluor, half a mile further west in the Old Red Sandstone rocks. It has also been noted associated with fluor and chalcopyrite in the calcareous sandstone exposed at Clarkly Hill Quarries (six-inch map, Elgin 1 S.E.), one-quarter of a mile south of Cummingstone.


Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 74; six-inch, Elgin 32 N.E. Lead ore is said to occur near Grantown-on-Spey.

Aberdeenshire. Details of the mines and veins[edit]

Corrie Beg (Glengairn) Veins.[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geoogical, Sheet 65; six-inch, Aberdeen 91.

In " The (Old) Statistical Account[10] a statement is made that pieces of lead ore had been found near the castle of Glengairn, but that no attempt had been made to find the vein. Heddle[11] mentions the occurrence of two intersecting veins in gneiss containing galena and yellow zinc-blende associated with fluorspar and calcite. The main vein[12] is associated with a fault, which trends N.N.W. and w has several branches. It was worked to a depth of 36 ft. early in the last century and yielded lead rich in silver.

Meadow Hill Vein[edit]

Maps: One-inch Ordnance and Geological, Sheet 87; six-inch, Aberdeen 13 N.E.

A few pieces of quartz bearing galena have been obtained from a vein at Meadow Hill, near Stricken.[13]


  1. Partly from notes supplied by Mr. C. M. Anderson.
  2. The Geology of the Country around Beauly and Inverness, Mem. Geol. Surv, 1914, p. 98.
  3. The (Old) Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. viii., 1793, p. 418.
  4. The Geology of Glenelg, Lochalsh, etc. (Mem. Geol. Surv), 1910, p. 175.
  5. The Geology of Ben Wyvis (Mem. Geol. Surv.), 1912, p. 171.
  6. The Geology of the Fannich Mountains Gliem. Geol. Surv.), 1913, pp. 115-116.
  7. The (Old) Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. i., 1791, p. 283.
  8. Williams, The Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom," vol. i., 1810, pp. 303-304.
  9. T. D. Wallace, Recent Geological Changes on the Moray Firth," Trans. Geol. Soc. Edin., vol. iv., 1883, p. 51.
  10. The (Old) Statistical Account of Scotland," vol. xii., 1794, p. 227.
  11. Heddle, Mineralogy of Scotland, vol. i., 1901, p. 19.
  12. The Geology of Braemar, Ballater, etc. (Mem. Geol. Surv.), 1912, p. 129.
  13. North-East Aberdeen and Detached Portions of Banffshire, Mem. Geol. Surv., 1886, p. 29.