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Islay, Loch Bharradail

Lead Mine(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Loch Bharradail

Classification Lead Mine(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) North Ardachie; South Ardachie

Canmore ID 37735

Site Number NR36SE 23

NGR NR 39 63

NGR Description Centred NR 39 63

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Killarow And Kilmeny
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR36SE 23 centred 39 63.

For general summary of Islay mines, see NR36NE 21.

(NR 398 633) Old Lead Workings [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map 1981

The remains of open-cast operations and later shafts can be seen at the former mines of North and South Ardachy which cover much of the area E and SE of Loch Bharradail, and which together formed one of the main centres of the island's lead-mining industry in the 18th century.

Visited May 1976


NR 398 633 For ease of description the survey has been divided into two areas (1 and 2) as the workings are extensive. Area 1 is set in a valley bottom surrounded by land now used as rough grazing. The Mulindry road crosses a former E to W open cast which has followed a Tertiary dyke for a distance of c45m and is at times c6m to 8m in width. A number of smaller E to W workings can be seen close by. Several terraces made up of mine spoil descend to a N to S trending trial. Almost parallel to this feature an adit is present. This is now backfilled and the interior of the ditch is dry. The adit is intersected by a mine shaft. Immediately adjacent to this feature is a tailings dump. The adit continues southwards and is now receiving seepage water. The banks of this feature are well preserved with water draining along the base of the valley towards the small burn leading from Loch Fada into Loch Bharradail. Leading away from the adit upslope, a large rectangular bank encloses rig and furrow. At the crest of the slope a series of features include a small test-pit cut into the limestone outcrop. Shot holes and evidence of fire scaring suggest this feature has been blasted in the rock. A plateau of rough pasture is bounded by a region of large tailing dumps that lead to the crest of the slope leading down to Area 2.

A series of roughly EW trending trials are enclosed by a sharply defined bank. The most northernly feature is a a large feature whose depth is unknown; it is suggested that this feature may have been an adit as a seepage anomoly runs into a watercourse that runs downslope cutting through the enclosure track and what appears to be a track. A small rectangular building (A) has been revetted into the bank of the track. The age and function of this building is unknown as is the building (B) immediately to the W. Situated to the S of this feature a large ovoid tailings dump is present. The tailings within the tip are exclusively iron pyrite-rich phyllites and slates. To the W of this feature a series of five rubbish-filled shafts or pits, each surrounded by a ring of waste which makes them look like bomb craters. The shaft or pit farthest from Area 2 adjoins a large drainage channel that traverses an area of poor grazing for some 170m. A point worthy of note is that the material incorporated in these well-pronounced banks is mine waste. This is evident by their green and fertile slopes and the presence of Campanula rotundifolia (common harebell) a plant that prefers alkaline soil.

M Cressey 1993


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