Machrihanish Coalfield

The Machrihanish Coalfield is a coalfield on the Kintyre peninsula in southwest Scotland.[1] It is one of the smallest British coalfields. With the exception of a thin coal beneath the Lyoncross Limestone in the overlying Upper Limestone Formation, all of the coal-bearing strata are found within the Limestone Coal Formation, a subdivision of the Clackmannan Group; all being strata of Namurian age. There are numerous seams of which the Main Coal is the principal one, being some 3 to 4m thick. A further, higher seam known as the Kilkivan Coal has also been worked.[2] The full sequence is:

  • Cannel Coal
  • Kilkivan Coal
  • Main Coal
  • Underfoot Coal
  • Mid Coal
  • Low Coal[3]

Mining was taking place before the 16th century, largely in connection with a local sea-salt industry. Similar but very small scale activity also took place on the northeast coast of the nearby Isle of Arran. It continued at a low level through to the late 18th century when a new pit was sunk at the Argyll Colliery, ushering in the coalfield's busiest period which lasted until the closure of the mine in 1929, following a fire in 1925. Much of the coal was used to fuel the area's numerous distilleries. The coalfield was linked to Campbeltown by a canal from the late 18th century and by a narrow-gauge railway at the end of the 19th century. Mining in the coalfield continued after the opening of a drift mine in 1946 through until 1967.

In 2010 Campbeltown born artist, Jan Nimmo, completed a documentary film, "The Road to Drumleman: Memories of the Argyll Colliery", which tells the story of Kintyre's last mine, the Argyll Colliery, through the narrative of some of the remaining miners.[4]


  1. ^ British Geological Survey 2007 Bedrock geology: UK North 1:625,000 scale geological map, BGS, Keyworth, Notts
  2. ^ Johnstone GS, 1966 British Regional Geology: The Grampian Highlands (3rd edn), HMSO/Institute of Geological Sciences, Edinburgh (p71)
  3. ^ British Geological Survey, 1996. Campbeltown. Scotland sheet 12. S&D geology. 1:50,000 provisional series. (Keyworth, Nottingham: BGS)
  4. ^ "Machrihanish Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland".

Coordinates: 55°25′07″N 5°43′44″W / 55.4187°N 5.7289°W / 55.4187; -5.7289