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Episodes 2016; 39(1): 45-51

Published online March 1, 2016


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Cambrian age Welsh Slate: A Global Heritage Stone Resource from the United Kingdom

Terry Hughes1, Jana Horak2, Graham Lott3, Dafydd Roberts4

1Slate and Stone Consultants, Ceunant, Caenarfon, Gwynedd LL55 4SA, United Kingdom. Corresponding author E-mail: terry@slateroof.co.uk
2Amgueddfa Cymru –National Museum Wales, Cardiff CF10 3NP, United Kingdom. E-mail: dafydd.roberts@museumwales.ac.uk
3British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, United Kingdom. E-mail: g.lott@bgs.ac.uk
4Amgueddfa Cymru –National Museum Wales, The National Slate Museum, Llanberis, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY United Kingdom. E-mail: jana.horak@museumwales.ac.uk

Received: December 4, 2014; Accepted: October 1, 2015

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Slate from the Cambrian succession of North Wales is a well-known source of building products from the United Kingdom and is here advocated as a suitable “Global Heritage Stone Resource”. Its first recorded use was in the Roman period in Wales, and subsequently from the sixteenth century throughout the British Isles. During the 16th and 17th centuries several small companies worked the slate belt from Bethesda to the Nantlle valley but in the mid-18th these were gradually taken over or amalgamated and three large operations came to dominate the industry: Penrhyn, Dinorwic, and the Moel Tryfan to Dorothea group of quarries. From the late eighteenth century production expanded rapidly supplying markets worldwide especially to northern Europe and the British colonies. Slate has been used in all its forms but most notably as roofing slates in the construction of buildings at all levels in society and for buildings of the highest historical and architectural importance. Modernisation of the industry has enabled Cambrian Welsh Slate to continue to be quarried today in an environmentally sensitive manner by Welsh Slate Ltd.