Mining was part of Scotland’s industry and culture for the best part of a thousand years. Although only a smattering of opencast workings remains, coal’s legacy is widespread today in landscape, traditions and politics.
Coal was worked in Scotland at least as far back as the thirteenth century. With technology advances the industry started to truly take off in the eighteenth century. However, conditions underground were harsh, and whole families could be forcibly employed.
In the 19th century, mining became a male preserve thanks to reforms which prevented women and children from going down the mines. The Scottish coal industry peaked in the early 20th century, directly employing 150,000 people and affecting far more through its culture and communities. Scottish coal was at the heart of Scotland’s booming industries, and was exported throughout the world.
After private mines were nationalised in 1947, Scottish coal, and employment in the industry, remained a vital part of the economy until the closures of the 1980s.
Scots at Work
The Scots at Work exhibition ran from April to June 2013 at General Register House, National Records of Scotland. Vistors had the opportunity to view the following items which were on display in the 'Mining' case:
- Baby Wolf safety lamp, c. 1940 - National Mining Museum Scotland
- List of colliers at Loanhead, 1763 - National Records of Scotland
- Lanarkshire miners, c. 1920s - National Mining Museum Scotland
Mining Records in Scotland
There are over 200 archive collections relating to mining and other forms of mineral exraction in Scotland. These include the key collections such as those held by the National Mining Museum Scotland and records of nationalised companies held by the National Records of Scotland.