Do you know your crozzle from your hussle?

I’ve been working on my latest geotrail and doing some reading in old geological memoirs. The sections on coal measures rocks use many old mining terms. Being a lover of both geology and the English language I think that there are some beautiful words here.

Since I’ve been compling a list of the words and their definitions I thought that I’d share them here. I don’t think that you will find most of these words in glossaries.

I’m indebted to William Gresley’s “A glossary of terms used in coal mining” published by E & F.N. Spon in 1883. (Also Cope F.W. Geological Magazine; January 1949; v. 86; no. 1; p. 36-42 for crozzle and hussle)

BACK. Cleavage in coal with a smooth parting and some sooty coal included in it.

BALK. A sudden thinning out of a seam of coal.

BALLSTONES. Ironstone. (North Staffordshire)

BANNOCK. Brownish grey clay suitable for making into firebricks. (Shropshire)

BASS. Black carbonaceous shale.

BAUM-POT. Calcareous nodule in the shale roof of the “Halifax Hard” coal seam. (Yorkshire)

BEARS. Calcareous clay-ironstone in nodules. (Derbyshire)

BIBBLEY ROCK. Conglomerate or pebbly rock. (South Staffordshire)

BIND or BINDS. Indurated argillaceous shale or clay, very commonly forming the roof of a coal seam and frequently containing clay ironstone.

BLACKBAND. Carbonaceous ironstone in beds, mingled with coaly matter.

BLACK-BATT. Black carbonaceous shale.

BLACK-JACK. A kind of cannel coal. (Derbyshire)

BLACK MUCK or BLACK MOULD. A dark-brown powdery substance, consisting of silica, alumina and iron found in iron mines. (Lancashire)

BLACKSTONE. Highly carbonaceous shale. (North Staffordshire)

BLAES or BLAIZE. A hard-bedded joint-free sandstone, also a clay with balls of ironstone (Scotland)

BOARD-WAY’S COURSE. Planes of cleavage in coal. (Northumbria)

BRASS or BRAZZIL. Iron pyrites in coal. Generally lenticular patches or small veins.

BRAT. A thin bed or band of coal mixed with lime and iron pyrites. (Northumbria)

BRUSH. A rich brown haematite iron ore. (Forest of Dean)

BULLIONS. Nodules of clay ironstone, iron pyrites or shales which generally enclose a fossil. (Lancashire)

BUMP. A very sudden breaking of the strata, accompanied by a loud report or bumping noise heard in the mine. [mining induced earthquake]

BURR or CANK. Very compact siliceous-ferruginous sandstone.

CAKING COAL. Bituminous coal, requiring much poking on the fire.

CALLIARD or GALLIARD. A hard, smooth, flinty grit-stone. (Northumbria)

CANNEL. A coal rich in hydrogen, produces much gas, and has a hard, dense structure. From Canwyl, meaning a candle, from the readiness with which it lights and gives off a steady flame

CASH. A soft shale (Scotland)

CATHEADS or CHERKERS. Nodular or ball ironstone. (Northumbria / Forest of Dean)

CHEESES. Clay ironstone in cheese-shaped nodules. (Derbyshire)

CHEMIST’S COAL. An ancient term given to a particular kind of hard splint coal which used to be carried by women in their shifts or chemises out of the mines. The word chemise became changed into chemists. (Scotland)

CHERRY COAL. A soft, velvet-black, bright resinous coal.

CHITTER. A seam of coal overlying another one at a short distance. (Lancashire)

CLEAT. Natural jointing of coal seams, with generally a north / south direction, irrespective of dip or strike.

CLIFF or CLIFT. Shale which is laminated, splitting easily along the planes of deposition. (South Wales)

CLOD. Indurated clay. (Derbyshire, Leicestershire)

CLOD-TOPS. Clayey beds overlying seams of coal. (Forest of Dean)

CLUNCH. Hard earthy fireclay. (Midlands)

CORNERS. Bands of clay ironstone. (South Wales)

CRACKS. Vertical planes of cleavage in coal, running at right angles to backs. (Scotland)

CREESHY [GREASY] BLEAS. Nodules of bituminous shale which fall out when the coal is worked away from beneath them. (Scotland)

CROW-STONE or GANNISTER. A very hard and compact, extremely siliceous fire-clay, largely made use of for lining the interiors of steel furnaces. (Derbyshire, Yorkshire)

CROZZLE. Contorted non-carbonaceous shale [c.f. Hussle (carbonaceous)] (North Staffordshire)

CRUST. Whitish fine sandstone. (Shropshire)

CULM. Inferior anthracite. (South Wales)

CURL-STONE. Ironstone exhibiting cone-in-cone formation. (Shropshire)

DANT or DANTY. Disintegrated coal. (Northumbria)

DAUGH. Underclay (Scotland)

DELF. A vein, seam, mine, or bed of coal or ironstone. (Forest of Dean, Lancashire)

DILSH. Inferior culm in the shape of a thin stratum. (South Wales)

DIET BED or BAND. A thin stratum of soft earthy refuse interbedded with coal seams.

DUMB FAULT. Coal wash-out.

DUNS. Argillaceous shale. (Gloustershire)

FAT COALS. Coals containing volatile oily matter.

FIRE-CLAY. Any clay that will withstand a great heat without vitrifying. They contain from 60 to 95% silica, and 2 to 30% alumina. Lime or alkalies which act as a flux, being entirely absent.

FLAG. A bed of hard marl stone overlying the rock head in salt mines. (Cheshire)

FLAIKES. Shaly or fissile sandstone. (Scotland)

FLAMPER. Clay ironstone in beds or seams. (Derbyshire)

GANNISTER. A very hard and compact, extremely siliceous fire-clay, being the floor of some of the lower coal seams of the Midland coalfield. It is often crowded with the fossil Stigmaria, and is largely made use of for lining the interiors of steel furnaces.

GRIST. A black coaly stratum indicating a probable vein of coal not far off. (South Wales)

GRIZZLE. Inferior coal with an admixture of specks and patches of iron pyrites, and often sooty.

HARDS. Coals of a hard and close-grained character. (Midlands)

HAZLE. A tough mixture of sandstone and shale. (Northumbria)

HEUGHS or HEUCHS. Ancient term for coal seams or coal workings. (Scotland)

HORSE-BEANS. A stratum of a granular structure immediately overlying the rock salt beds, in which the rock-head brine runs. (Cheshire)

HUGGER. A Back or Cleat. (Northumbria)

HUSSLE. Contorted carbonaceous shale [c.f. Crozzle (non-carbonaceous)] (North Staffordshire)

LAM or LAMB. A kind of fire-clay. (Warwickshire)

LAMB-SKIN. Culm. (South Wales)

LEA-STONE. Laminated sandstone. (Lancashire)

LEATHER-BED (Midlands). A tough leather-like clayey substance running in a fault slip, composed of the ground-up and squeezed fractured ends of the coal measures. Seldom more than a few inches in thickness. (Midlands)

LINING. Clay Ironstone in beds or bands. (Derbyshire)

LOAM or MALM (Somerset). Any mixture of sand and clay which is neither distinctly sandy nor clayey.

METAL STONE. Sandstone and shale mixed. (Northumbria)

NANNIES. Natural joints, cracks, in the coal measures. (Yorkshire)

NEST-WEISE. Iron ore which occurs in pockets (Forest of Dean)

PENNYSTONES. Bands of clay ironstone.

POUNDSTONE. A kind of underday. (Shropshire)

POUNSON. Dense soft clay underlying coal beds. (North Wales)

POXON ROCK. A red gravelly stratum (Permian ?) overlying coal measures. (Leicestershire)

PROUD COAL Coal which naturally splits off in flakes or slabs (Scotland)

PUDDING ROCK. Conglomerate or breccia. (Yorkshire)

QUAR or CLIFF QUAR. A kind of Bind (Forest of Dean)

QUOICENECK. Greyish black clay with shining surfaces, and streaked. (Shropshire)

RATTLE-JACK. Carbonaceous shale (Midlands)

RATTLERS. Cannel coal. (Yorkshire)

REED. Cleat.

SAGGER or SEGGER. A kind of fireclay.

SCARRS. Thin laminae of iron pyrites or spar in coal. (Northumbria)

SCRIN. Ironstone in irregular-shaped nodules. (Derbyshire)

SCRONGE. The loosened or broken strata overlying and produced by workings underneath. (South Wales)

SCUD. Very thin layers of soft matter, such as clay or sooty coal or iron pyrites embedded in coal seams. (Leicestershire)

SEAT EARTH. Generally a kind of hard fireclay forming the floor. (Yorkshire)

SHAGGY METAL. Horse Beans. (Cheshire)

SHED. A very thin layer of coal.

SKERRIES. Greenish-white micaceous sandstone. (Worstershire)

SKERRYSTONE. Hard, thin-bedded sandstone. (Midlands)

SLOOM. A softish earthy clay or shale often underlying a bed of coal. (Midlands)

SLUM, SLUMS, SLUMBS. A blackish, slippery, indurated clay (North Staffordshire) or a soft clayey or shaley bed of coal.

SMOOTHS. Planes of cleavage more or less vertical. (South Wales)

SOAPSTONE. A variety of fireclay, sometimes applied to Bind. (Yorkshire, North Wales)

SODS. Clay beneath coal seams. (Leicestershire)

SPAVIN. Clunch, or ordinary bottom or underclay. (Yorkshire)

SPIRES. Coal of a hard, dull, slaty nature, and difficult to break up. (Leicestershire)

SPLINT or SPLENT. A laminated, coarse, inferior, dull-looking, hard coal, producing much white ash. (Scotland)

STERIL COAL. Black shale or clay on top of a coal seam.

STINKING COAL. Sulphur-rich coal.

THREAD. Cleat (Midlands)

UNDEREARTH. A hard bastard fireclay forming the floor of a seam of coal. (Forest of Dean)

VEISES. Joints in coal strata (Scotland)

WEELDBONS. Ancient ironstone workings. (Forest of Dean)

One Reply to “Do you know your crozzle from your hussle?”

  1. Hey, thanks for the list! I’ve heard of very few of these – if I was only working in coal, I could start interspersing these words in monthly reports and such.


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