Geologist reveals the long forgotten history of Fife’s coal mining industry
A geologist has revealed the story of an important forgotten industry in the East Neuk of Fife, after hearing reports from a local farmer whose tractor fell into a disused mine shaft.
While coal mining is very much associated with the west of Fife, where the earliest mines date back to Dunfermline in the 13th century, little is known about the industry’s significance in the East Neuk from medieval times until the late 20th century.
Now, John Mcmanus, a former lecturer at both the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews, has published a detailed study of the men, women and children who worked in this dangerous industry, some of whom are still living in Fife.
He said he had been prompted to investigate the industry after a farmer told him his tractor had fallen down a forgotten mine shaft. He said: “Around four years ago, I was leading a geological walk when a farmer spoke up – ‘Your map has a mark on it showing a shaft top in the middle of that big field. That was exactly where we almost lost a new tractor a few years back. If we had known, we would have gone nowhere near it. Fortunately, no one was hurt’.”
His book, Coal Mining in the East Neuk of Fife, pinpoints the location of some lesser known local mines.