Tom a' Mhein

(NH 28400 38400)

Tom a’ Mhein (small hillock of the mine) is the name of a little rocky eminence in Glen Strathfarrar, so called because at its base there is an old graphite mine, the ‘lead mine’ of the OS map . Blackwoods Magazine for October 1817 reported that graphite from this mine “is formed into pencils, used for diminishing friction and for giving lustre tofrom 1903 shown below the numerous substances formed of cast iron. This mine is situated on the Lovat estate in a schistose rock close to the [River] Farrar and crops out to an extent of not less than 50 feet in five different seams and some of them from 12 to 18 inches in thickness.” At the time it was one of only three graphite mines in Britain, the others were at Cummnock in Ayrshire and in Borrowdale in Cumberland.

Current OS maps do not show the buildings on the map above.  Photos below and at top of page were taken by David Channing in 2018.

The images show the buildings (unroofed) from the 1903 OS map.

Extract from the Scottish Cave and Mine Database:

[A lead mine which has not been worked “for some years” (prior to c.1870). It consists of a ditch driven a short distance along the vein of ore. Remains of a smelting hearth exist nearby, together with a stamping mill, water-wheel etc. which were falling into decay at the time. Name Book 1870

Graphite was mined here for a short time at the beginning of the 19th c; in 1818, 5 tons were produced.

A disused opencast lead mine generally as described in the ONB. The stamping mill and water-wheel cannot be identified, although the three mine buildings survive almost to roof height.

Alternate Names: Tom a’ Ghiubhais (‘mound of pine’) Lead Mine.]