Ge­ol­o­gist re­veals the long for­got­ten his­tory of Fife’s coal min­ing in­dus­try

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By JANE BRADLEY

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.

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