The Moor Road and Drumdryan Quarry
The Moor Road is undoubtedly an ancient route and would have been the main thoroughfare until the development of roads under the auspices of the Turnpike authorities. Very early maps of Fife tend to show only waterways and bridges, e.g. Blaue Atlas of Scotland, 1662-1665, Fife Pars Orientalis ( East Fife) shows centres of population and bridges over the River Eden and Ceres Burn.
The moor land is named as Pitscotty Moor on this map.
Roy’s Military Maps of Scotland compiled between 1747 and 1752, shows the route but does not name it.
John Ainslie’s Map of Fife , dated 1775 clearly shows the route between Cupar and Ceres terminating at Bridgend, Ceres,. By the time that the 1828 map of Fife surveyed by Greenwood, Fowler and Sharp was issued, the Moor Road is marked as a secondary route, with the present-day route that the road follows takes precedence. The same applies to the map of Fife in John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland, 1832. The first Ordnance Survey maps of Scotland, surveyed in 1854 are the first to name the moor as Ceres Moor, also showing Drumdryan Quarry, as a sandstone quarry. The 1896 O.S. map states that Drumdryan Quarry is disused.
According to Fife Place Name Data, the name Drumdryan is connected with the lands of Drumdryan in Edinburgh. The Home Rigg family of Tarvit near the land on which the quarry lies, acquired the lands of Drumdryan in Edinburgh in 1788, which gave rise to the origin of some street names in Edinburgh and it is likely that the name Drumdryan was transferred to Fife at about that time. The Ordnance Survey Name Book records Drumdryan Quarry as a sandstone quarry in disuse, property of B. Wemyss of Wemyss Hall.
Although in the ownership of the Wemysshall estate, the quarry was let to others to work and extract stone. An advert from the Fife Herald of 20th May 1830 states,
“ Drumdryan Quarry, in the immediate vicinity of Cupar, to be let for such term of years as may be agreed upon. The excellence of this quarry is too well known to require further description.
Apply to the proprietor at Wemysshall”
There was great excitement in the early 19th Century with the discovery of fossils at Drumdryan Quarry in 1827 by a student named Spence, from St Andrews University. This led to further investigation in the surrounding area, with the Rev Anderson from Newburgh who recognised their importance and spent a number of years looking for further examples. Local quarry workers were asked to help, but the most important find was made at Dura Mill by a mason who uncovered a slab containing the fossil of a complete fish. That Dura Den Fossil is in the custody of the Bell Pettigrew Museum at St Andrewes University. There is a very full report in the Fife Herald of 28th December, page 4, 1837 which reproduces an article from Fife Illustrated and refers to fossil finds.
In 1870, when work had obviously resumed at the quarry, there was a major incident, reported in the Fife Herald and other newspapers, when a major fall of rock, put at 1000 tons with a miraculous escape for the 8 workers at the quarry.
The gunpowder magazine at the quarry was the subject of public scrutiny in November 1871 by the Petty Sessions, when the Chief Constable reported on the security of the magazine. The structure belonged to Messrs Hay, Merricks & Co gunpowder manufacturers of Roslin. Concern had been expressed as to it being close to the boundary of Cupar, but a licence was granted subject to certain conditions being met.
The quarry was still being advertised for let in 1883.
The Moor Road features in a number of reports concerning its condition. In the 1950’s when timber was being removed and the impact of lorries. Correspondence often alludes to the condition of the path for pedestrians, with calls to the authorities to take action.
It is also mentioned as a feature in visitor guides to the area, but only in passing.
28th October, 2018