Scottish Agates - Burn Anne



The “Burn Anne”, as it is locally known, rises in the hills a few miles to the south-east of the north Ayrshire town of Galston. This locality has long been famous for it beautiful jasp-agates.

The agate found here is mainly vein agate but very occasionally nodular fortification agates can be found in the burn. This beautiful vein agate is found as brick-sized blocks of material within the soft, almost clay like, pale green “rotted” lava. Occasionally can be found specimens that show a brecciated structure that has been re-cemented with the mineral Calcite. 

The Burn Anne vein agate was described by Heddle as being “altogether unrivalled in beauty”. The colour of the agates includes red, orange, yellow and white and is associated with grey and pale purple chalcedony. Some of the most desirable material shows a white and yellow banding, this is classic from this locality.

Finding any agates from this burn is not easy and requires a lot of hard work. Only a few “dedicated” collectors have, in recent years, been lucky enough to find any worthwhile material from this locality. In the past the burn was the site of extensive workings but nowadays there is no evidence of these old "quarries".

I have been very fortunate to be involved in a number of organised “digs” at this famous locality. Our first dig was in the autumn of 1999 and since then we have had digs in 2000, 2002, 2003 and recently in June of 2007.

On each occasion we used a digger to remove the overburden of soil and boulders until we have exposed the lava. The lava has a pale green or grey clay-like consistency when exposed, it is very soft and the agate veins are embedded within it. When the bucket of the digger digs into this material any resistance and crunching suggests we have found agate. The final stage is to remove any exposed agate veins carefully by hand. It is very exciting to see what is exposed and at the end of the day there is the “divie-up”.

The photographs here are a selection taken over the 3 day period of the dig in 2007. [Pictures taken by Nick Crawford]