MEATH GEOLOGY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The county forms part of the great limestone field of Ireland, that mineral constituting its general substratum, except in its northern part, where the clay-slate formation is found; in the western, where basalt is found mixed with the clay-slate, in some places rising in bare rocks, in others scattered over the surface in detached masses; and on the line of sea-coast, which is formed of transition rock. At Ardbraccan the limestone is of a fine white grain, capable of being worked into any form. The beds lie horizontally, and are of considerable thickness: the stone is susceptible of a high polish, assuming a grey tinge when finished, though appearing white under the chisel: tombstones and doorcases made of it are sent to a great distance.

The seam of rock extends to the Blackwater, but the quarries opened in other parts do not afford blocks of such scantling as at Ardbraccan. The works are also much impeded by the difficulty of keeping the quarries free from water. In Slane barony there is a fine quarry of vitrescent stone, which makes excellent flagstones, but does not take a high polish. It has been conjectured that coal exists in the same barony, in consequence of the appearances that present themselves where the edges of mineral strata are laid open by the washing away of the surface soil; but the position of the layers presents difficulties that have hitherto prevented the search from being prosecuted with any prospect of success. A vein of copper has been found near the banks of the Boyne, the analysis of which gave 21 parts of copper from 120 of ore; but the difficulty of keeping the workings clear of water has prevented it from being profitably explored.

At Knock, in Morgallion barony, is an argillaceous clay containing a portion of iron, and adapted for the coarser kinds of earthenware; and there is a vein of potters' clay, of superior quality, at Dunshaughlin. Petrifactions are found in the caverns and fissures of the limestone districts, and some very brilliant spars and crystals in the Nanny water, particularly near the Diamond rock. Fossils of various kinds have also been discovered in the limestone caverns and in several of the small bogs. The fossil remains of moose deer were discovered a few miles from Kells, imbedded in marl beneath a bog, within an enclosure of circular form, which is conjectured to have been used for entrapping the animals: the remains were very numerous. Three heads of deer with uncommonly large horns were also found imbedded in the earth at Dardistown; they are supposed to have belonged to animals of the moose deer kind.

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