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Ballachulish Slate Quarries

Slate Quarry(S) (Post Medieval)

Site Name Ballachulish Slate Quarries

Classification Slate Quarry(S) (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) East Laroch Quarry/ West Laroch Quarry

Canmore ID 23552

Site Number NN05NE 9

NGR NN 08491 58431

NGR Description Centred NN 08491 58431 and NN 07 58 and 08 58

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Lismore And Appin (Lochaber)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NN05NE 9.00 07 58 and 08 58

NN05NE 9.01 08 58 Boiler (egg-end) [East Laroch]

NN05NE 9.02 07 58 West Laroch quarries

NN05NE 9.03 0856 5852 structure [East Laroch]

NN05NE 9.04 08 58 workers' cottages

NN05NE 9.05 0856 5855 inclined plane

NN05NE 9.06 0 5 slate fence post

For (associated) Laroch harbour (NN 08 58) and slate workers' boat houses (NN 0818 5858), see NN05NE 12 and NN05NE 27 respectively.

Ballachulish Slate Quarries [NAT] (at NN 085 581)

OS 1:10,000 map, 1990.

Slate quarries, East and west Laroch, Ballachulish. Founded c. 1693. There are two main quarries here. The larger (NN 085 583) is partly flooded, though terraced workings, like those in North Wales, may also be seen. An inclined plane survies, built of slate rubble, with an arch over the former main road. The other quarry (NN 073 582) is not as interesting. There are harbours (NN05NE 12) formed out of quarry waste.

J R Hume 1977.


Field Visit (July 1970)

350. Slate-quarries and Workers' Dwellings, Ballachulish.

Extensive remains of former slate quarries (Pl. 105A, B) are to be seen at West Laroch and East Laroch, about 3 km SE of South Ballachulish. The largest and most recently worked quarry is situated at East Laroch, where there is also a harbour formed out of banks of quarry waste. Two other quarries and a harbour exist at West Laroch, and many smaller workings can be seen above the village in the valley of the River Laroch.

Writing in 1841 the author of the New Statistical Account stated that the quarry-workers were accommodated in houses of stone and lime with slated roofs. 'The accommodation in each is three apartments, all plastered, with chimnies and grates in the principal one, and an open garret above. To most of them a cow-house is attached' (en.1). Numerous rows of cottages of this description were formerly to be seen at Laroch, and beside the road leading from Laroch to Glencoe, but few examples (Pl. 105C) remain today. A typical cottage measured 7.6 m by 6.1 m over all and incorporated a room on each side of a central entrance-doorway, together with a small closet centrally placed at the rear.

The Ballachulish slate-quarries were first opened by the proprietor, Mr Stewart of Ballachulish, about the year 1693, and a century later the industry employed 74 families numbering 322 persons, and slate was being exported to many different parts of Scotland, as well as to England, Ireland and America. Maximum production was reached during the last quarter of the 19th century, when the total labour-force rose to just under 600 men with an annual production of 26 million slates. The industry declined rapidly during the present century and the last quarry was closed in 1955.

RCAHMS 1975, visited July 1970

En.1. NSA, vii (Argyll), 25

En.2. Stat. Acct., i (1791), 499-500; NSA, vii (Argyll), 247-251; Bremner, D, The Industries of Scotland (1869), 429-432; Fairweather, B, A Short History of Ballachulish Slate Quarry (1968), passim.


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