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Pupils Visit One of Europe’s Most Important Mineralogical Sites In Scotland’s Highest Village

Geology Main Lesson pupils venture deep into a drift mine, visit the preserved living quarters of miners and try their hand (successfully) at panning for real gold.


On Thursday, Class 9 visited Wanlockhead’s open-air Museum of Lead Mining in the Lowther Hills, which aims to preserve the heritage of this lead mining region.


At 467m above sea level, Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland and lies at the heart of one of the most important mineralogical sites in Europe. First worked by the Romans, the Lowther Hills have for centuries been a rich source of zinc, silver, lead and gold – among other valuable commodities.


The windswept landscape is dominated by the infrastructure and tailings of old mine workings, while underground, dug out by hand in the hard volcanic rock, a maze of shafts and tunnels extends to perhaps hundreds of miles.


The 14- and 15-year-old pupils had an opportunity to don a hard hat, stoop into a dripping tunnel, and venture half a kilometre into the recently extended Lochnell drift mine (where photography is not permitted). It is the only drift mine – horizontally-accessed mine – in Scotland which is open to the public.


Between 1710, and when the mine finally closed in the 1950s, lead ore (in the form of a mineral called galena) was dug out of Lochnell by local workers, many of whom began work at the age of seven.



Above ground, the Class cohort visited a row of preserved pit cottages to find out what life was like for miners in centuries past; stopped in at the miners’ library (the second oldest subscription library in the country) and tried their hand (successfully) at panning for real gold.


Class 9 were accompanied by Mr Pugh (Upper School Geography Teacher and onetime volunteer miner at the Museum) and Mrs Scott (Class Guardian).


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Pupils Visit One of Europe’s Most Important Mineralogical Sites In Scotland’s Highest Village

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