|It is related by Dr. Hamilton, that a discovery was made, in his time, of chambers that had been worked, and of various tools, baskets, &c., deposited therein; the latter so decayed that, on being touched, they immediately crumbled to pieces. The implements that had been employed were very different from those in use at the present day; and the wicks of the candles were formed of rags. The great antiquity of this mine may be inferred, from the hammers made use of being formed of boulders of stone, one of which I have in my possession, It is of ponderous and close-grained basalt, about four pounds in weight; some being heavier and others lighter: has a groove evidently made with difficulty round it, the ends meeting in a flat surface underneath, against which the wedge, that was used to tighten the shaft of the hammer, appears to have been placed, and which shaft was probably a twisted with of willow or hazel, or a strap of tough hide passed round the groove. The figure in the following page will perhaps convey a clearer description than I can otherwise give.
[p. 72] [image] This colliery must evidently have been worked long before the discovery of gunpowder, as no trace of blasting appears. The ancient use of stone hammers is not confined to this part of the United Kingdom: the same thing has been found in an old colliery near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, together with some flint wedges. The working of the Antrim mine had apparently stopped short on arriving at one of the whin-dykes, which the miners could not penetrate. It is recorded, that in these places where the coal was in contact with the whin-stone, it was blistered or burnt into cinders. The same thing happens in other collieries, wherever the whin-dykes have penetrated the coal strata. These whin-dykes, it appears, are very frequent along the coast of Antrim, intersecting the limestone strata, of which the cliffs are mostly composed, and then [p. 73] burying themselves in the sea, from whence they emerge on the opposite shores of Scotland. [pp. 71-73]