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Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Quarrying Terms

'There was no English at all…everybody spoke Welsh'

Although the quarry owners and stewards spoke English, the quarrymen and other workmen spoke Welsh, a Welsh unique to their particular area. The very specialised craft of slate quarrying, and the close-knit nature of the community, meant that the quarry had a wealth of unique terms which gave the language of the quarrying areas its own very special, very colourful character. Here are some examples from Dinorwig Quarry:

Bodiau llwyd: literally, 'grey thumbprints', a fault in the slate in the form of a half circle like a thumbmark. This meant that the slate was too poor to be used for roofing slates.

Cerrig hogia' bach: literally, 'little boys' stones' — slates less than fourteen inches long. The rubbler would learn his craft by splitting and dressing these.

Dros Bont Bala: literally, 'over Bala bridge' — Bala bridge was the bridge by the quarry entrance. If a man 'went over' Bala bridge it meant he had been sacked.

Ffarwel rock: literally, 'Farewell rock' — rock so hard that the only thing to do was part company with it.

Pen Bryn Sbïo: literally, 'Lookout Hill' — a small hill about half way between the quarry and the powder house, where the explosives were kept. There was an excellent view of the village and the two lakes from here so it was the ideal spot to take a rest and have a smoke — taking care, of course, to keep the cigarettes far enough away from the powder bag!

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