SK5312 : Swithland Great Pit Quarry

taken 3 years ago, near to Swithland, Leicestershire, Great Britain

Swithland Great Pit Quarry
Swithland Great Pit Quarry
This is the largest quarry in Swithland Woods. Swithland slate was highly prized as a roofing material by the Romans and was used for important buildings in Leicester and at East Bridgford in Nottinghamshire. The first written evidence of slate quarrying in the area is in early 1300s and the actual listing of the Swithland quarries appears in 1343, when the quarries at Swithland and Groby Park are referred to in the Borough of Leicester Records. In 1377-8, work on Leicester Castle included “2000 slates bought from John Bareman with cartage from Swithland, for 3s 1d a thousand.” In the same year, builders at Frith Lodge purchased 1500 slates from Swithland at the same price. Bradgate House, once the home of Lady Jane Grey, was also roofed with Swithland Slate.
Operating through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the Swithland quarries were taken over by the Ellis family sometime during the period 1852-65. In 1859 they reopened the most southerly of the quarries in Swithland Wood apparently using ‘modern methods and Machinery’. The best bed of slate in the quarry was only 5 metres wide and almost vertical. As a result, the quarry was worked to a depth of more than 60 metres at its northern end, which presumably earned its name of The Great Pit. The Swithland Wood quarries were shut in 1887.

There is no public access to the quarry and it is surrounded by substantial boarded fencing reinforced with razor wire. It is a bell-shaped quarry occasionally used for sub-aqua diving but only by special permission and only for expert divers. It is 100 metres (300 feet) long, has a depth of 50 metres (165 feet) with underwater visibility of 5 – 20 metres (15 – 65 feet).

A 61ha remnant of the original Charnwood Forest, Swithland Wood is part of the Bradgate Estate and is managed by the Bradgate Park Trust.
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SK5312, 52 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 29 October, 2018   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 27 November, 2018
Geographical Context
Quarrying, Mining  Woodland, Forest 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 53899 12217 [1m precision]
WGS84: 52:42.2969N 1:12.2245W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 53887 12240
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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