Coal pp 29-50 | Cite as

Coal and Coalmining

  • Andrew Bryan


There is no record of when, where and how coal was discovered. Tradition tells us that early man first found it by accident when he noticed that in some of the places where he built his wood fires the very stones in the ground on which the fires were built also began to burn. Five centuries ago, Marco Polo recorded that some thousands of years earlier the Chinese had already recognised ‘a black stone that burns’. Doubtless coal was first used as a source of warmth for human com-fort; but it may have been used in other ways. Analysis of certain ash remains in South Wales suggests that coal had been used for cremation in the Bronze Age (c. 3000 bc). There is evidence, too, that varieties of coal were used in ancient times to make ornaments. But it was probably not until the Roman occupation that it was known and used on any appreciable scale in Britain.


Coal Seam Bituminous Coal Wire Rope Longwall Face Coal Face 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1976

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  • Andrew Bryan

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