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January-February 2013

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The Weardale Giant: A Large Fluorite Specimen Recovered from the Rogerley Mine, Weardale Northern England, July 2012

AS LOCAL LEGEND HAS IT, there were once three giants who lived in Weardale, making their living as blacksmiths. It is said that they could afford only one hammer among the three of them, so they would toss it back and forth while forging swords.

For reasons lost to time, there was a curse on the giants that they would disappear if the hammer were ever dropped. One day failing eyesight caused one of them to miss the hammer, allowing it to fall, and, as a result, the three vanished. During July 2012, we may have discovered the reincarnation of one of them while working at the Rogerley mine.

The Rogerley mine is located in a disused limestone quarry between the towns of Stanhope and Frosterley in the Weardale region of County Durham, England. Weardale itself is the fluorite-rich center of the North Pennines Orefield, which has supported mining for lead, iron, zinc, fluorite, and other mineral commodities during the past millennium (Dunham 1990; Symes and Young 2008). The Rogerley mine was first developed in the early 1970s as a source of mineral specimens by a team of local collectors and was subsequently taken over by a group of Americans (including the author) in 1999 (Fisher and Greenbank 2000, 2003). Since then, operating as UK Mining Ventures (UKMV), we have continued to work the mine for fluorite specimens on a seasonal basis each summer. As with all mining ventures, there are good years and not so good years. The 2010 and 2011 mining seasons were definitely of the not-so-good type, but this past summer things turned around for us.

Jesse Fisher has a master's degree in geology and is a lifelong mineral collector. He is also a partner in UK Mining Ventures' ongoing specimen recovery operation at the Rogerley mine. His most recent article for Rocks & Minerals was on the mines and minerals of the Southern California pegmatite province that appeared in the January/February 2011 issue.

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