From Rock to Roof
This summer, the Mount Stuart Trust worked with Historic Environment Scotland and Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Fellow, Richard Jordan, and to deliver a series of workshops and demonstrations on the traditional skill of splitting slate block into hand-made roofing slates.
The project started with an exploration of the history of slate quarrying on Bute and the extraction of slate blocks from the former quarry at Ardmaleish Point.
Slate from the Isle of Bute was recorded as early as 1445, when 130,000 slates were produced from the quarry at Ardmaleish Point. These were used in the repair of the roof of Dumbarton Castle, at a cost of 11s 10d. By the 1880s, it is thought that the slate production on Bute had all but ceased. The Hilton quarry on the island was however temporarily re-opened to provide roofing slate for Wester Kames Castle. It closed soon after in 1920.
The demonstrations and workshops held at the Mount Stuart Trust were significant, as they marked the the first production of roofing slate on Bute in over 100yrs.
Industry visitors and day visitors, college, and school students all benefitted from the first hand experience of meeting the practitioners and working with the slate. Plans are now being developed with Rothesay Academy and other partners regarding an expansion of the project in the months and years ahead.