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The History of Collyweston Slate


Collyweston stone slate is a fissile limestone of the Jurassic period (150 million years ago).

Collyweston, a quiet Northamptonshire village, lies at the centre of the area where the slate is quarried and the material has been mined here since Roman times.


Fortunately the resilience and long life of the slate ensured that building owners continued to demand the material and hence the craft and a few businesses survive to this day.


During the 19th century it was used extensively in the local area and on more prominent buildings around the country. However, with the growth in rail transportation in the late 19th century, the industry fell into decline.


During the mining process, often some sixty feet below the surface, the stone slate is recovered by 'foxing' the material from below ground. Methods for successful mining are handed down from father to son. Miners have developed unique methods and tools and even have their own mining language.


Once the slate 'logs' are recovered they are left outside to be exposed to frosts which, in turn, cause the slate to split along its veins, producing a stones that are ready for shaping using specially designed hammers. Once worked, the stone slates are stored on their edge for onward sale or for local roofing.

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