Mining Terms

Barrowman's Glossary of Scotch Mining Terms

Please click here to view a complete transcription of "Glossary of Scotch Mining Terms" by James Barrowman, 1886.  This work contains definitions of occupations, words commonly used by miners and technical terms. James Barrowman (c1849 to 1933),  was a mining engineer, mineral factor on the Duke of Hamilton's estate and later secretary of the Mining Institute of Scotland.

Mining Occupations

For some useful fuller descriptions of various colliery occupations, see the Special Rules on the Colliery Rules page

Some definitions for terms used in this site:

After-damp gas left after an explosion containing a large quantity of carbon monoxide

Bing - a heap e.g. of coal, debris or colliery waste

Blaes - mudstone or shale not containing much bituminous or carbonaceous matter, but generally sufficient to give a dark blue ('blae') colour

Blind pit, or bore - a shaft or bore drilled upwards or downwards from an underground position, and not reaching the surface of the ground.

- person who loads and unloads the cages at the bottom or intermediate landings in a shaft

Brattice - partition in mine to regulate ventilation or support sides or roof,  brattice cloth- canvas sheet for regulating ventilation in mine

Brush - to remove part of the roof or pavement by blasting or otherwise in order to heighten the roadway, hence brusher

Brushing - strata above or below a worked seam taken out in the making of roads

Buntin or bunton - wooden cross-stay in a shaft; a support for shaft slides

Cousie – a self-acting incline on which one or more full descending hutches pull up a corresponding number of empties- cousie-wheel - the drum or pulley on a self-acting incline

Cuddie - A weight mounted on wheels; a loaded bogie, used to counter-balance the hutch on a cuddie brae, Cuddie brae- an inclined roadway, worked in the same manner as a self-acting incline, the cuddie serving as a drag on the full hutch running down

Cundie - the unfilled space between the pack walls after the coal has been removed, in steep long-wall workings, a narrow roadway without rails, down which mineral is rolled to be loaded into hutches at the bottom; a small roadway or aircourse

Dook - an inclined roadway

Downcast shaft - The shaft down which the clean air descends to ventilate the underground workings

Firedamp - methane gas naturally found in coal seams - highly inflammable and explosive. 

Holing - the excavation of a thin layer of soft material beneath, above, or in centre of a coal seam, as a preliminary to working it; or the layer so excavated.

Hutch - receptacle in which coals are conveyed from the face, formerly a type of basket, now a box-like wheeled truck

Hutch pin - a miner’s tally put on a hutch to indicate the hewer who filled it

Hutch pinning - to substitute dishonestly one’s own tally for another’s on a more fully loaded hutch

Hutch road - line of rails on which hutches run

Kettle - cylindrical or barrel-shaped vessel of wood or iron, used to raise and lower materials and men during the sinking of a pit

Lipe or lype - a small intrusion or irregularity in the joints of a coal-seam

Longwall - a system of mining by complete excavation at one working

Oncost - charges for labour and maintenance additional to the payments to the colliers and their bearers for the actual production of coal

Oncostman- a time-worker

Parrot Coal - a term for gas coal, often but not always restricted to such as is of inferior quality. This name has probably been derived from the crackling noise made by this type of coal in burning.

Pavement - the layer immediately underlying a coal or other workable seam

Putt - to propel a loaded coal-hutch from the coal-face to the pit-bottom by means of a series of shoves or pushes

Putter - person who does above - man or boy who assists a drawer to take his hutch along a difficult part of a drawing-road

Race - a group or train of hutches coupled together

Redsman - man employed to clear debris or rubbish from the workings in a coal mine

Road - a passage in an underground working in a mine

Roadsman - mine official responsible for the making and maintenance of haulage roads

Roof - the layer immediately overlying a coal or other workable seam

Scree - an arrangement of parallel bars arranged on a slope over which coal is passed at a pithead to remove dross, scree-man - the worker in charge of the riddling of the coal at a pit-head

Sinking pit - pit or shaft in the process of being sunk

Snibble- bar of wood or iron used as a brake or drag on a waggon or hutch in mining

Splint coal - hard coal with a dull lustre, which does not cake or break up in a furnace

Stoop - A broad pillar of coal or any other mineral left in to support the roof of a working

Stoop and room - A system of working a seam by a network of galleries, separated by broad pillars or stoops

Tree - to provide with supporting timbers or props, as the roof of a coal working

Tub - a hutch or small truck into which the cut coal is filled, a measure of coal of varying capacity

Upcast shaft - shaft up which the air returns to the surface after having ventilated the underground workings

Waff - to direct a current of air at, to fan

Waste - old workings; or the debris from workings

These definitions were mainly extracted from "Concise Scots Dictionary" 1999 (see Links for an on-line Scots dictionary) and "Economic Geology of the Fife Coalfields"