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Craigleith Quarry CONCEALED beneath the busy retail outlets of Craigleith Shopping Park lies one of the capital most celebrated geological sites and the source of much of its neo classical architecture. Located two miles north west of Edinburgh city centre, Craigleith Quarry was active for over 300 years from 1615 1942. At its peak it was the largest and most productive of the city's eight district quarries, with over a hundred workers generating up to sixty cartloads of stone at least four times a day. The 350 million year old Craigleith sandstone was a highly sought after material for the capital's architects and notoriously tough to quarry and work. Evidence of this is apparent in its buildings which have weathered well over the centuries. Robert Adam's University of Edinburgh Old College on South Bridge begun in 1789 provides a marvellous example of the exceptional quality of Craigleith sandstone. The faade's six enormous pillars, each weighing in at nine tons, were hewn, not from segments, but from single lumps of Craigleith stone and required sixteen horses to haul them one by one from the quarry. Similarly in 1826, several massive blocks weighing a total of 1,500 tons were heaved out of Craigleith, by the brute force of twelve horses and seventy men to the top of Calton Hill, to build the National Monument. The opening of a railway line to Craigleith in 1850 would bring an end to such Herculean feats. Not that such a technological leap made the mason's task any easier. One prominent Edinburgh physician was quoted as saying that 'an old Craigleith man was done at 30 and died at 35' referring to the many workers who died before their years mostly due to excessive stone dust inhalation. Fossil trees Between 1826 and 1873 a number of fossilised trees dating from the Carboniferous period were discovered in the quarry some as long as 36 feet in length. One of these trees can be visited outside the glasshouse of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Inverleith. Last days One of the last major works involving Craigleith sandstone was the construction of Leith Docks in the late 19th century. The nike 0.5 quarry had carved a fine reputation for itself around the world, nike 12 exporting a lot of stone, particularly to London, as well as Europe and the United States. However, it was now approaching the end of its workable life. By the 1920s, less than 25 masons were registered as working at the quarry and the growing suburbs around Craigleith and Blackhall meant that its days were definitely numbered. Half way through the Second World War, all work on the quarry had ground to a halt. For the next 50 years Craigleith would be utilised as the city's principal refuse dump and the nike 8162 110 metre deep cavity was gradually filled in. Retail park In 1993 the site of the former Craigleith Quarry was purchased by the Sainsbury group. It has now developed into the popular Craigleith Shopping Park its historic significance somewhat masked by the invasion of High Street retail outlets. Despite its location, the stonework at the entrance to the retail park bearing the name 'Craigleith Quarry J Sainsbury' was sourced 130 miles away from Stainton in northern England. A large section of exposed sedimentary rock can still be seen today behind the Sainsbury's supermarket. It is one of the last visible remnants of the famous quarry that is, if you don't include the hundreds of buildings and other civic structures peppered throughout central Edinburgh.