The collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery contains this specimen of fluorite – discovered underneath your feet below the surface of Crich Hill.
Many shafts were dug into Crich Hill during the early 1800s in order to mine lead veins. Glory Mine shaft was dug at this time and eventually worked to 810ft before the vein ran out. It wasn’t usual for lead miners to discover mineral crystals, many of which were collected to sell to tourists.
Having so many independent mines in one place could cause problems. In 1831 a dispute over the ownership of a lead vein brought the miners of Glory Mine and Old End in conflict. The rival tunnels met underground, where Glory miners were recorded to have pushed stones down onto miners below them. It is also claimed that one side burnt old boots to smoke the other side out. Eventually an agreement was reached and a boundary line was fixed on the surface.
The Peak District is famous for its minerals. For hundreds of years, miners extracted the rock to process ores for metals such as lead, zinc and copper. In some mines they discovered sparkling crystals – double terminated calcites like huge diamonds and fluorite sprinkled with crystals of metallic sphalerite and black galena. The best specimens were collected and sold as souvenirs. Mining was a hazardous job. Miners toiled in near total darkness with only candles and lamps to light the way. Dangerous gases, rock falls and flooding were a constant threat.
Geologists are still working out where many of the minerals came from and how they were formed. Some were carried in fluids that squeezed into veins and cavities where tectonic forces had fractured the deeply buried limestone. Millions of years later, when uplift and erosion exposed the limestone at the surface, rainwater filtered through the rocks, reacting with the minerals formed earlier to create new ones.