14 Mar 2008

Alum quarry remains, Kettleness

Kettleness was the site of one of the alum quriies which worked this coast in the 18th and 19th centuries. The shales was quarried, piled into a conical pyre with alternate layers of brushwood and set alight. The oil content in the shale allowed the pyre to smoulder away for months. The burned shale was then boiled in vats of human urine until the alum salts crystallised out: it was an important fixative in cloth dying. The quarrying left the coast hereabouts looking rather strange: in places Kettleness looks almost lunar.
Above: gutters carved out of the local sandstone for carried runoff into the sea.
There's not much left of the working to see - foundations like these, and they are eroding quickly.
View over some of the ruins, Runswick Bay in the distance.
This arch leads into a low stone-lined tunnel that runs into the hillside (purpose unknown).

1 comment:

Largo observer said...

Most interesting. I always thought that the industrial heritage was in the towns and cities, but there is a surprising amount around the coast. I recently looked up the history of some ruined houses in Largo Bay in East Fife, that are virtually on the beach and found that the people who lived in them in the second half of the 18th Century were engaged in the salt-panning industry, and that this was an important industry at the time right along the Fife Coast.