Glossary of specialist & local terms
Specialist and local terms used in association with oil shale working or processing in Scotland. See Occupations pages for terms describing trades and occupation, and Technology or Geology pages for more detailed specialist descriptions of processes.
A greatly more detailed “Glossary of Scotch Mining Terms” was compiled by James Barrowman in 1886. Not all of the terms in this glossary will be relevant to the period and geographical areas of the shale area industry. The glossary is now available on-line through the Scottishmining website. Barrowman's glossary, and similar documents from throughout the world, were combined in a single international mining glossary published in 1948, available on-line from archive.org.
Air shaft – a mine shaft used exclusively for ventilation.
Bench – as in a retort bench or a bench of retorts, usually a brick structure with a steel frame enclosing a number of retorts.
Bing – a waste heap, either of spent shale, or mine waste; (derived from the gaelic term for a conical hill).
Blaes – laminated friable mudstone or other waste rock that weathers to a bluish clay – but see red blaes.
Cross-cut - a tunnel driven through unproductive rock, usually linking one seam to another.
Blind Pit – a shaft underground linking two or more seams but not extending to the surface.
Boring tree – a pit prop used for support while drilling the shale face
Brattice – boards or cloth used to direct the flow of air underground.
Broken working – the removal of stoops in stoop and room working.
Brushing - (also Ripping) – the removal of waste rock from mine workings, often to increase the height of roadways.
Burnt – as in burnt shale – seams heated by volcanic action and of little economic value.
Calmy – describing a light coloured sedimentary rock (as in calmy ribs or calmy blaes).
Carriage incline (or sinking carriage) – equipment used in steeply inclined mines in which hutches are loaded onto a rail-mounted carriage for haulage to the surface.
Cousie brae – a form of self-acting incline in which the weight of filled hutches pulls up the empties.
Creep – subsidence, usually within steeply inclined seams resulting in different lateral movement of floor and roof of a mine, often leading to damage of roof supports.
Crown tree – timber to support the roof of mine roadways without the need for vertical props.
Cuddy – a horse – cuddy brae; a form of self-acting incline in which a weighted hutch, on its own track, balances the weight of filled hutches, minimising the need for braking.
Cundy – the space between packs in longwall working Probably a corruption of the word conduit – tunnel.
Curly shale – an oilshale with contorted laminations – as opposed to plain shale.
Cut-chain brae – a form of self-acting incline.
Darg – a day's work.
Daugh – a soft strata within a seam of shale.
Dook – an inclined roadway.
Drawing – the process of manually pushing hutches along rails.
Dip - the gradient of an inclined seam, or workings.
Dyke - a vertical wall or vein of volcanic rock, (see also sill).
End – or Upset – an inclined shaft driven uphill.
Face – a location within a mine where shale is worked.
Fakes – a sandy shale of no commercial value.
Fathom – a measurement equivalent to six feet.
Graith – a miner's personal tools.
Jigger – a device used in some haulage systems to attach a hutch to an endless rope.
Haulage – movement of hutches by an endless rope (v) – endless rope equipment (n).
Holing-bed – a strata or weakness in the shale bed where explosive charges may be set to best effect.
Hutch – a narrow-gauge or tramway wagon or tub.
Kingle – a hard sandstone or cementstone.
Level – a level roadway (as opposed to an inclined roadway).
Longwall – a system of working shale based on advancing a long, continuous face.
Lye – a railway siding.
Oncost – mine maintenance work carried out directly by the company
Open-cast – a quarry (n), the process of quarrying (v).
Outcrop – a line where an inclined seam reaches the surface.
Pack – an area within longwall working where the roof of the working is supported by packed waste.
Partings – a layer within a seam where rock tends to split.
Pavement – the floor of a mine working.
Place – a location where the shale is worked.
Rake – a train of wagons or hutches.
Red blaes – spent shale, usually oxidised to a rusty red colour; as excavated from a spent shale bing and used for construction purposes.
Retort – an externally heated vessel though which oil shale passes to release oil and other vapour. A number of retorts are enclosed within a bench.
Rhone – a drain – specifically, a pipe used to distribute ventilation air in underground workings.
Rib – a band of nodules or hard rock within a productive seam.
Roadsmen – a team employed to maintain roof supports and underground roadways.
Roof – the strata forming the ceiling of a mine working.
Sinking – the process of developing a new mine or pit.
Sit – an area of subsidence at the surface due the collapse of underground workings.
Snibble – a peg, inserted through the spokes of a wheel to serve as a brake.
Spent shale - waste rock remaining once oil has been extracted - see also red blaes.
Sprag – a pit prop used for the temporary support of the mine roof.
Stalk – a furnace chimney.
Stemmer – a tool used for packing a shot hole.
Stemming – padding packed into a shot hole to hold explosive in place.
Stoop and Room – a system of mining involving the excavation of a rectangular network of tunnels (rooms) retaining blocks or pillars of shale (stoops) to support the roof of the mine. Also known as Pillar and Stall working.
Stooping (or stooping-out) – the working of stoops, allowing the roof to collapse, as the final process in stoop and room working.
Stopping – a brick wall built in an underground workings to direct the flow of ventilation or hold back water.
Sump – the deepest part of a mine, from where water is pumped.
Trap - volcanic rocks altered by contact with shale and other minerals. White Trap is an altered limestone.
Tree – a wooden pit prop.
Upset – an inclined shaft driven uphill.
Want – the absence of a productive seam where one might be expected to exist.
Whinstone – a volcanic rock – often Basalt.