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Greendykes Bing

The largest and highest of the distinctive pink-coloured oil shale bings of West Lothian, the Greendykes Bing lies a half-mile (1 km) north northeast of Broxburn and a similar distance south of Winchburgh. Its top forms a significant grass-covered plateau which reaches a height of 185m (606 feet) above sea level, or 95m (311 feet) above the surrounding landscape. Its steep slopes are remarkably stable, owing to the mixed size of the shale substrate.

Abandoned since 1925, this remarkable landmark is a reminder of the oil shale industry pioneered in 1858 in West Lothian by James 'Paraffin' Young (1811-83), which soon comprised 120 oil works extracting more than 100 million litres (22 million gallons) of oil from 3 million tonnes of shale annually, and employing up to 40,000 people. By the second decade of the 20th century, this industry began meeting competition from crude oil pumped directly from the ground in the USA and the Middle East, but it was to continue into the 1960s.

It is now in-part a scheduled historic monument, protecting it from being quarried as hardcore for road construction. It provides important recreational space for local people and a valuable habitat for a range of locally-threatened flora and fauna, including wormwood, hare, red grouse and larks.


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