This fascinating book tells the little known story of Scotland's richest ever silver mine, near Alva in Clackmannanshire. Published by the National Museum of Scotland on behalf of the Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society. The research by author Stephen Moreton is based wholly on primary sources, the most relevant of which are reprinted within the book.
The tale that emerges could have sprung from the imagination of a master story-teller like Robert Louis Stevenson. Silver was discovered at Alva on the lands of Sir John Erskine just as he joined the Jacobite cause in the 1715 uprising. Extraction was then carried on in secret under the direction of Catherine, Lady Erskine with the ore that emerged reburied for safety. After the uprising, Sir John Erskine tried to buy his way back into Hanoverian favour by offering to help the Crown exploit the silver mine: though it seems much of the best ore to emerge might have continued to be spirited away secretly under the noses of the Government. Bit part players included the chemist Joseph Black and eminent scientist Sir Isaac Newton.
As a final twist, efforts to drive tunnels to help drain the mine later in the 1700s led to the discovery of a significant seam of cobalt, which soon became at least as important to the local economy as the silver had been.
The book was written with both the general reader and academics in mind and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when someone sets out to delve as deeply as possible into a tightly-focused and little known area of history. Much of the story itself emerges from the letters and official reports written at the time, while a final chapter describes what can be found of the mine in Silver Glen today.