During the 18th century, there was a lead mine at Blackcraig, one of the many in the parish of Minnigaff. The mine has now gone, but in Kirroughtree Forest you can still find the remains of a lade. This was a man-made water channel which powered the operations at Blackcraig.
Discovery of lead in Minnigaff
The first discovery of lead in the parish of Minnigaff happened by accident. In 1763, a soldier was working on the construction of the military road from Carlisle to Portpatrick when he struck lead.
A few years earlier, an Englishman called Cuthbert Readshaw was looking to start up a lead mine in the south of Scotland. In 1755, he contacted merchants William Carruthers and George Clerk to get advice on how to do this.
They joined forces to form a mining company in 1758. Narrowing down their search to Minnigaff, it was not until the soldier's discovery that an opportunity presented itself.
Craigtown Mining Company
Patrick Heron was the owner of this land. In 1764, he gave the company a thirty-eight year lease to mine his land. The Craigtown Mining Company was then officially established.
In the 1770s, Blackcraig mine was in full operation, but by the 1790s production was already dropping off.
In the mid 19th century, mining began again, this time for lead and zinc. It finally went out of use during World War I.
Storyteller Tony Bonning shares three local tales.
- Gilbert and Uchtred (mp3)
- Gilbert and Uchtred transcript (pdf 329k)
- Bruce and the Macdoulls (mp3)
- Bruce and the Macdoulls transcript (pdf 328k)
- The Wife of Craigencaillie (mp3)
- The Wife of Craigencaillie transcript (pdf 334k)
Visiting Kirroughtree Lade
The exact location of Kirroughtree Lade is grid reference NX 452 646.
For details about access to the forest, see the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre web page.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.