Ethiebeaton Quarry from the air in 2010

Ethiebeaton Quarry is only about 1 kilometer to the south-west of Ardownie Quarry, the two quarries are not linked and each is operated by a different company.

Agates were first reported from here in the early 1990’s at about same time that Ardownie was producing material. After a number of visits it became apparent that the best area in the quarry was confined to a small area on the north-west side. Although this was the best area agates were also found at a number of other areas in the quarry but interesting enough these others, although much the same size, were of a different appearance and colour, showing more red and white. [Agate 025]

Ethiebeaton Quarry.....main collecting area [081094]

The agates from the main collecting area in Ethiebeaton are generally smaller than the Ardownie examples at an average of around 30 – 40mm in diameter and their beauty and patterns are subtle. In this area nodules could be abundant but the vast majority of them were rather bland dark chalcedonic material. In fact after one trip where I had managed to extract maybe 50-60 nodules when I later cut them the return was poor at about 1 in 10 nodules showing some good patterning. However the few that you were able to get were worth all the effort. They were usually uncracked and laminated examples in pastel shades with beautiful blue/grey fine crisp fortification patterns. Other colours included deep red-wine, subtle pinks and browns contrasting with white bands.

The quarry company should be congratulated for allowing collectors access to the quarry over a prolonged period of time. This generosity ensured that some of the most spectacular agates ever found in Scotland were preserved. I can remember on one occasion we were all picking over a large heap that had remained unchanged for a while and one of the quarry workers kindly turned it over with  a large digger to expose new material for us. At some time in the late 1990’s a large tarmacadam plant was constructed in the quarry on top of the best and most productive area. 

Agate nodules in a block of lava [081094] A single large nodule to be extracted [081094]

The chance finds at both Ardownie and Ethiebeaton quarries demonstrate the potential in Scotland for new discoveries of spectacular agates. Any deposit of Old Red Sandstone age andesitic lava may contain agate finds and future work by the quarrying industry may reveal new sites.

In March of 2016 I visited the quarry to see what the situation regarding access was...they no longer allow agate collectors into the quarry at all due to "health and safety" reasons!......I guess that it? So any agates now will simple be going into the crusher! A sad state of affairs!

Maybe some of these "so called" geological conservationists should turn their attention to this and save some of these treasures for the nation?



These Ethiebeaton Quarry agates are from the collection of John Mackenzie:


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