Stone has been quarried from Halkyn Mountain for hundreds of years. Early quarries were small as the rock was taken by hand using simple crowbars, hammers and wedges. Local people were allowed to take stone to build houses for themselves.
The first commercial quarries were chert, which was taken to the Staffordshire potteries for use in the manufacturer of china. Numerous small limestone quarries were also dug, expanding from the 17th century when the practice of ‘liming the land’ to increase its fertility became popular. Limekilns were built close to the quarries.
Early quarrying on Halkyn Mountain remained local, small-scale family concerns due to the limited transport available. Despite ambitious plans for aerial ropeways and railway links, horse and cart remained the main transport into the 20th century. Large scale quarrying on the mountain was only really able to develop once road haulage became available.
Not all the limestone on the mountain is the same. A few quarries produced Aberdo or hydraulic limestone that was used to make cement that sets under water, invaluable in the construction of docks and piers. Others produced Halkyn ‘Marble’, a dark blue stone full of fossils that can be polished just like real marble and was in demand for memorials and monuments.
Today large, highly mechanized quarries supply over a million of tonnes of stone and aggregate to North Wales and the North West of England each year.