Map with: Google Map, or OS Explorer Map from Streetmap.co.uk

Other Sites Within 500m

Boiling Spring Culvert 

 Go to the Main Scottish Cave and Mine Database Search Page

Cambusbarron Mine

Cambusbarron, Mill Road, Stirlingshire.

NGR:NS 77469 92692
WGS84:56.11121, -3.97199
Length:8000 m
Vert. Range:45 m
Altitude:15 m
Geology:Limestone, Midland Valley Sill-complex - Quartz-microgabbro
Tags:Mine, ManMade, Archaeo
Registry:second

Limestone Mine below Gillies Hill.

Lime-mining has taken place i n the Gillies Hill area since the late 18th century, producing lime to be used in building mortars, iron production and agriculture. The remains of the kilns can be found at three locations around Gillies Hill: at Murrayshall Limeworks on the south west of Gillies Hill beside the entrance to the current quarry; at Hollandbush Limeworks off Kersebonny Road and at Craigend Limeworks on the south bank of the Bannock Burn near Castlehill Dun.

A Lime-miner [Robert Andrew] remembered a typical day in 1906, when at the age of 16, he worked in the tunnels under Gillies Hill along with his father and 30 others. "We started at 6 am. and collected our tools from the smithy at the mine entrance where they had been re-sharpened. We had to buy our own dynamite, from the store halfway between the mines and the kilns. Then we made our way into the mine along the main level. Near the far end we turned into our heading and then into our branch. The working face was 12 to n14 foot wide and about 6 foot high. We drilled 4 holes across the face taking turns to hold the chisel or swing the hammer. When the holes were between 2 and 3 foot deep, we cleaned them out, put in some dynamite and a fuse, and plugged the hole with clay. At 11 am we stopped for a lunch-break. Then we blew the charge and started to fill the hutches with lumps of limestone. A full hutch was about 15 cwt. They were run downhill to a lay-by using a'snibble' pushedc through one of the 'biscuit-wheels' to slow the hutch down. We marked the hutches with our tally, and the pony-man took a 'rake' of them down to the entrance. By 3pm we had cleared the face ready for the next day and it would be time to go home." [Outlandish Scotland]

A brief history of the quarries of Gillies Hill. [Save Gillies Hill]

1. Gillies Hill. According to Peter Paterson there was once a quarry on the site of the current Gillies Hill housing area.

2. Polmaise Quarry AKA Bearside Quarry was located near the Curling Ponds and was formed in 1882 by Young & Ross.

3. A third quarry was located across Polmaise Road from Graystale Farm.

4. Thornton's Quarry AKA First Quarry aka The Wee Quarry operated from 1931 to the mid 1950s.It was bought from Stirling Council who leased the land from Polmaise Estate in 1893 (but extracted their rock from west of the Free Green). Both Thornton's & Fourth Quarries were first explored in the 1980's when quarrying ceased at the Fourth quarry, but it took a new group of climbers in the 1990's to fully explore Thornton's steep walls - it has been described as "one of the best venues in the central belt for those operating in the E3-5 range." Climbers' names for some of the routes include Thug of War, Anabolic Steroids and Grasp the Nettle. There is evidence in the quarry of some of the equipment for removing the stone in the form of supports for a conveyor.

5. Second Quarry aka Fourth (or Forth) Quarry akaThe Big Quarry: This quarry was mined from 1931 to the early 1980s. In the 1930s it provided over 60 jobs. When it ceased operation, it became a target for climbers who developed it as a popular venue for mid-range climbs. One area has several excellent routes - Easy Contract, Not Easy Contract, Another One bites the Dust (It was slightly loose at first!); and The Doobie Brothers are now very frequently logged by climbers from all over Scotland. It's "clean nature, easy access and easier grading than Thornton's" ensure its popularity. Thornton's and Fourth Quarries were owned by Tarmac and subsequently sold to Tillicoultry Quarries who renewed the fencing and warning signs on the cliffs above the quarry. Though climbing is not sanctioned here, neither is it actively prevented by the owners. The re-opening of Murrayshall Quarry would probably change this situation. Fourth Quarry is now also popular with mountain bikers who have developed a series of circuits in its base with jumps and curves.

6. Murrayshall Quarry is owned by Tillicoultry Quarries to the west and Drygrange Estate Co to the east. Patersons Quarries Ltd. has applied to quarry the Drygrange portion of the hill. The application was turned down by the Scottish Government Reporter in 2017 and the access road application off of Polmaise that was part of the new application was turned down by Stirling Council in 2020. If the quarry were to be abandoned in its current state, then it is worth pointing out that the local climbing fraternity has already scoped out lots of potential new climbs to be created.

7. Limestone: Beneath the whinstone layer is a layer of Murrayshall Limestone. There is evidence that the limekilns in the area have been in production from about 1790 into the 20th Century, producing lime to be used in building mortars, iron production and agriculture. The remains of the kilns can be found at three locations around Gillies Hill: at Murrayshall Limeworks on the SW of Gillies Hill beside the entrance to the current quarry; at Hollandbush Limeworks off Kersebonny Road and at Craigend Limeworks on the south bank of the Bannock Burn near Castlehill Dun. Extensive tunnels lie beneath Gillies Hill; the mine adit is located in Cambusbarron and the mine air shaft is on the hill itself.

Recent photos (2011) show large brick lined entrance passage running under road and housing then continuing as rock cut passage. Double possibly triple layer of brickwork coated with lime deposits (from lime mortar), reinforced in places with steel channels (possibly rails from mineral railway).

Blocked airshaft pit at NS771923.

Alternate Names: Gillies Hill Mine

Notes: See also Gillies Hill Adit [0598].

The stability of the brickwork section may be dubious in places (see David Walsh photos).

Gillies Hill is supposedly the hill from which the Ghillies or camp followers of the army of Robert the Bruce descended onto the Bannockburn battlefield.

The underlying geology of Gillies Hill is a layer of quartz-dolerite approximately 100 meters thick that is highly resistance to erosion and is a ready source of "whinstone" for road bed, sea walls, concrete aggregate and kerbstones.

The fairy hill in Cambusbarron was formed in the 1850s from the spoil from the limestone mine.

Hydrographic Feeds: Possibly from the same source as the Cambusbarron Boiling Spring.

Hydrographic Resurgences: Water from the mine may discharge into the Raploch Burn.

Links and Resources:

This entry was last updated: 2021-04-05 15:14:58

Errors or omissions in this information? Submit corrections/additions/comments for this entry to the registrars.

All database content Copyright 2022 Grampian Speleological Group.
Web Registry software by Matt Voysey.