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Jolyon's Travels - Part 1 - The Rogerley Mine

Last Updated: 16th Sep 2009

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Jolyon's Geological Travels in the UK - August 2009

August gave me the opportunity for a whirlwind tour of some interesting geological and mineralogical UK places.

The Rogerley Mine, County Durham, England

First stop was the Rogerley Mine - the UK's only commercially run mineral specimen mine which is operated by Cal Graeber and Jesse Fisher of They have been mining it since 1999 yet it has taken me ten years to drive the 5 hour journey up to the north of England to actually visit the mine operation.

Let me make it clear right away. Rogerley is a working specimen mine. As such they don't normally have time to take visitors around, and it is certainly NOT open for private collecting.

The entrance to the Rogerley Mine

Of course, the mineral they are primarily mining is Fluorite - and some of the best specimen Fluorite in the world. Here's a photo of Jesse holding the best find of the summer:

Jesse Fisher holding a Fluorite from Rogerley

What a specimen! Want to see a better photo of it? Of course you do...

Fluorite from the Rogerley Mine

Of course this specimen (unless it has sold already) is currently availabe from UK mining ventures. Jesse says it's probably one of the top five ever to have come out of the mine.

So finally it was time to enter the mine. Fully kitted out with wellies, waterproofs and hard-hats we descended into the mine. Here's a picture at the entrance. On the left is Brian Jackson (National Museums of Scotland), on the right looking rather ridulous is me.

Brian (Left) and Jolyon about to enter the mine

And so we went undergroud... First photo here shows Jesse Fisher and Maria Alferova examining the "Rat Tail" pocket which had been opened up recently at the mine. It was named because it was found at the tail-end of another pocket known as the "Rat Hole".

Jesse and Maria in the Rat Tail pocket

In another area of the mine, we visited the Black Sheep pocket. This was one of the earlest worked areas of the mine during UK Mining Ventures' operations, and produced many of the early fine specimens. Now it's worked only sporadically, but as you can see from the photo the walls, and ceilings are covered with green fluorite cubes - those you can see in this picture probably average around 1-2cm each. But they're almost impossible to extract, they need to use the diamond-tipped chainsaw to get pieces out of here now, and they only do that for the very best pieces.

The Black Sheep Pocket

Here's a closer view of the ceiling...

A closer view of the fluorite in the ceiling

Some pockets were coated with thick aragonite, such as this one near the entrance to the Rat Hole pocket.

Aragonite in pocket

Outside, Maria picked up one of the large specimens recently recovered from the Rat Tail pocket. I think she would have carried this one all the way home to Russia, given the chance!

Maria holding a large specimen

Here's a close-up of that particular specimen, with a hammer to scale. The specimens I saw from the Rat Tail Pocket were interesting in that they were predominantly non-twinned, unlike those from other nearby pockets where twinning is relatively common.

The large specimen from the Rat Tail pocket

And we said our goodbyes, thanked Cal, Jesse, Joan and Kerith for their wonderful hospitality, and started driving north. Our next destination was a day of rest in Edinburgh, followed by a trip north west to the Isle of Eigg, one of the Inner Hebrides, for the next three days...

Part 2 - The Isle of Eigg

Article has been viewed at least 25099 times.


Congrats Jolyon.

Nauroz Nausherwani
15th Sep 2009 9:17pm
It's nice to see photos of the mines. Keep them coming.

Mark Rheinberger
15th Sep 2009 10:06pm
Thanks for the report Jolyon, it brings back nice memories (Kerith her great meal, drinking and talking minerals with Cal and Byron at Burnbrae, underground with Helen in Nenthead, Fluorite, sheep and rabbits on the tips, full breakfast at the Rose Hill, pints at the Blue Bell (wine for Cal of course!!) and of course the mine!
Aaaaaahhh, give me another summer without concerts!!!!!

Harjo Neutkens
15th Sep 2009 10:25pm
Hello Harjo,
Sorry you could not make it this summer, but the world needs good music, too! Hopefully, next year.

Jesse Fisher
16th Sep 2009 4:37pm
Oh, and yes, Jolyon was a very well-behaved visitor. We only had to make him empty his pockets twice!

Jesse Fisher
16th Sep 2009 4:49pm
Next year Jesse, definitely!!
Three days left of a three month theatre tour....three months without a single mineral next week the first stop will be a Quartz vein in the Ardennes!!



Harjo Neutkens
16th Sep 2009 10:29pm

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