Friday, July 31, 2015

The Marble Quarry - Iona

In 1790, the Duke of Argyll thought it would be a profitable enterprise to quarry the green-veined Iona marble. But the cost of operating from such a remote location doomed the effort. In 1907 the quarry was reopened. It had a more successful run that time, staying in business for a dozen years. But since 1919 the only marble that’s left the quarry are small chunks carried away in the pockets of tourists, and pieces taken to produce items of local Celtic craft work. 

On my first visit to Iona, back in 1989, I tried to find the quarry. All I had with me at the time was the 1:50000 scale Landranger map 48. The quarry is not marked on that map, and I incorrectly thought it was about halfway down the east coast of the island. I searched, but was not able to find the quarry. 

A few years later I acquired the 1:25000 scale Pathfinder map of Iona (Pathfinder 341). Using that map, in combination with info from some old sketch maps of Iona, I was able to pinpoint the location of the quarry (NM 269 218), which is just a short distance north of the south tip of the island. Using those coordinates I was able to find the quarry in 2003. Here are a few photos from that visit. (Also see chapter 16 of book 1 for a description of a walk around Iona that includes the quarry.)

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