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Moat, The

A mound of rocks close to the north shore of the Firth of Forth, The Moat lies a quarter-mile (0.5 km) southwest of Culross in W Fife. It is notable because Sir George Bruce of Carnock created an offshore coal mine here in the late 16th century, quite possibly the first occasion in the world this had been attempted. This mine was also unique because it was one of the first to have two entrance shafts and employed innovative drainage techniques, using a chain and bucket system. An entrance shaft on the shore was used for access, while the offshore shaft provided ventilation, together with a platform for loading the coal onto ships. So impressive was this feat of engineering that no less than King James VI asked to visit in 1617. He was duly conducted through the workings, although was sufficiently shocked to emerge surrounded by the sea that he thought an attempt was being made on his life.

The coal for the pit was used in salt and iron production, creating a thriving economy in Culross. However, mining came to an end in 1625 when the pit was flooded during a storm. Some of the stone which had protected the mine entrance was taken to Leith to build a pier c.1790.


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