Scottish shale Scottish shale

Breichdykes pits

Livingston, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Current status of site:
Rough grassland
Regional overview:

Key to shafts at Breichdykes.jpg

Maps and plans show a number of "old shafts" on the north side of the Breich water in the lands of Breichdykes, part of the Westwood estate. None of these shafts have been clearly identified or definitively associated with known underground workings. We have been assigned the shafts arbitrary numbers.

Some shafts pre-date the shale era, and presumably related to small scale coal working. Other shafts are likely to relate to the working of shale to supply the short-lived Westwood Oil Works - built c.1866. Shaft 1 is known to have accessed the Mungle shale, which was also known as the Stewart shale; suggesting an association with Steuart's Westwood Oil Works.

It seems also that following closure of Steuart's Westwood oil works, the Fells shale beneath Breichdykes was worked by Young's company from their Westwood No. 12 pit, abandoned in 1887. It is possible that some shafts in the land of Breichdykes may have been associated with these workings

Related places

Westwood west lands | Westwood east lands | Westwood oil works (1866) | Westwood old rows

Shafts 1 & 2

  • Shaft 1 - shaft to Mungle shale at 10.5 fathoms, not marked on the 1856 OS map, shown as abandoned shaft on the 1893 OS map
  • Shaft 2 - possible shaft, or waste mound, shown as earthwork on the 1958 map, but not marked on earlier maps.

Shafts 3, 4 & 5

  • Shaft 3 - shaft to the 2ft coal at 10 fathoms
  • Shaft 4 - unidentified shaft, but seemingly of some significance and associated with a small building on the 1893 map.
  • Shaft 5 - shaft to the Grey shale at 10 fathoms

Shafts 6, 7 & 8

  • Shaft 6 - shaft within and enclosure, presumably accessing coal seam. The absence of surface buildings suggests it was already disused by time of the first OS map in 1856. Absence of waste heaps suggests little production took place
  • Shaft 7 & 8 - a pair of shafts shown on the 1828 and 1856 map, and probably associated with shaft 6.

Shafts 9 & 10

  • Shaft 9 - the 1893 OS map shows this as "old shaft" associated with a significant spoil heap
  • Shaft 10- marked on a geological map as 5 fathoms to the Fraser shale - perhaps only a trial bore or pit.

Informal opencast mining, conducted in 2013