Easdale Island Slate

July 17, 2012


Photographer: Steve Irvine
Summary Author: Steve Irvine

Easdale Island is located south of Oban, Scotland; one of the Inner Hebrides. It's one of the Slate Islands — "The Islands that Roofed the World". Easdale is composed of Dalradian slate, and the material had been mined there for almost three centuries. A small island, it's about 25 acres (10 hectares) in area. During the 19th century an extensive slate mining operation was underway, with about 500 quarrymen working in seven open pit mines, some as deep as 350 feet (107 m) below sea level. Easdale slate was being exported worldwide. In the early winter of 1881, a powerful North Atlantic storm combined with unusually high tides to breach the barriers between the sea and the mines, and they were all flooded. The slate mining industry on Easdale Island declined rapidly after this and by 1911, it stopped altogether. This photograph shows one of the open pit mines that were flooded in 1881. Today Easdale Island is a tourist destination with excellent hiking trails, with special interest for geologists. There's a small folk museum on the island, and a fine cafe. The housing formerly used by the quarrymen has been renovated for the use of permanent residents and weekend visitors. Photo taken June 22, 2012.