February 02, 2021
Slate is a fine-grained, metamorphic rock formed by compression of sedimentary shale, mudstone, or basalt. Its story starts more than 500 million years ago, when the slate deposits of north-west Wales were created by volcanic action and huge geological upheavals.
Slate was first mined in North Wales as far back as Roman times, when the fort at Segontium near Caernarfon was built with local slate. But it was in the nineteenth century that the slate industry really took hold of the area and changed landscapes and communities forever.
As the industrial revolution began to gather speed and more and more demands were placed on natural resources, the tough, resilient nature of slate was recognised as the building material of the future. The slate from North West Wales is reputedly the best in the world; it didn’t take long for once sleepy farmland and quiet hills to succumb to the lure of the grey gold. The mines around Blaenau Ffestiniog grew to be the largest in the world.
Photos: Dinorwic slate quarry - abandoned ruins of great industry
Luckily today every interested individual can visit some of the slate caverns and quarries. People can explore the eerily magnificent mines like Llechwedd Slate Caverns gazing into dark holes and across cathedral-sized caves.
Some of the biggest abandoned slate quarries and mines in northern Snowdonia exist at Dinorwig, Dorothea, and Blaenau Ffestiniog, but there are also plenty of smaller caverns and quarries.
Welsh slate is considered by many as the best natural slate in the world. The colours range from the traditional grey through to purple and green. Diverse textures are evident as well.
Browse the range of our Welsh Slate products
Natural slate can withstand the most extreme environmental and weather conditions and combined with its unique natural beauty makes it the material of choice for a massive range of diverse applications.
Our range of slate products is vast, and includes various crafts, homeware and kitchenware items, slate sign engraving etc. Most of our Welsh slate products can be personalised to you specification. We use computer-aided design and sandblasted engraving to apply your personalisation to the slate product.
December 30, 2023