Cuthill, West Lothian, Scotland
The Mine Water Treatment Scheme built in 2003 sits beside the river Almond near Addiewell village in West Lothian, Scotland. The coal mines were worked here until the early 1960’s. The coal provided fuel for the giant furnaces used for extracting oil from shale in Scotlands first oil industry. Cuthill Mine Water Treatment Scheme is a few fields away from one of the slag heaps or ‘bings’ that mark the landscape of West Lothian; Five Sisters Bing was designated an artwork by John Latham in 1976, and has since become an internationally recognised monument. The scheme at Cuthill performs the function of cleaning the polluting mine water that inadvertently produces many tones of waste ochre every year.
Burning ochre at around 600 degrees will cause it to dehydrate, turning the yellow ochre material red. The ochre from Cuthill is distinguished by the subtle pinkish tone it creates when burnt, a colour that resembles the burnt fragments of waste shale that form the structures of the ‘bings’.