Even before I had known agate collecting at St Cyrus or Ferryden, I had been taken by my parents to Barras Quarry in 1993 when I was around eleven years old. Of course, my brother and I would generally do more mucking about than fossicking, and my parents were always more intent on looking. The most productive area here was always towards the back of the quarry, furthest away from the road, and again here more agates could be found around the west walls where searchng screes and on the ground could be fruitful. Indeed, the large agate first in the gallery here was collected by my father in the very centre of the quarry, completely buried and only showing a sliver of brown after recent rain. Care must be taken in searching amongst the boulders here as loosening large boulders accidently could obviously cause injury or death, even in such a diminutive quarry as Barras. Properly, as in any quarry, at the very least, a hardhat should be worn.
My brother was always more interested in collecting large quartz crystals than agate which of course, were easier to spot. He had quite a collection at one point, some of which still survives. As I became an adolescent, I was more interested in collecting caterpillars and finding newts in the puddles around the area of the quarry closest to the road. My attention did occasionally turn to agates, but while the quarry was clearly still worked on a small scale periodically in the early nineties, as time wore on it was obvious that this was no longer the case. Instead, the quarry became a storage area for the farmer who kept barrels, bales, manure and old machinery there. Agates would have to be dug, or hammered from the face and neither of my parents were particularly interested in collecting this way. It was also not the safest place for such experimentation with my small brother around.
So our attentions turned to the coast, and most of our collecting as a family was done at Ferryden and at Scurdie Ness.
Agates from Barras are generally fortification, sometimes with Onyx banding along the base, rarely filling a whole nodule. Sometimes agates with very fine filligree banding in white cn be found and many larger agates here show the famed segregation banding of this location, in glowing orbs and globules of white in the blue grey chalcedony. Not unique to the area, but Barras certainly has produced some of the finest stones of this type, occasionally reaching sizes of around 90mm. Some of the richest colours in Scottish agates occur here, definitely echoing agates found at related coastal areas such as at Stonehaven, Kinneff, Catterline and at Inverbervie. At Barras deep reds, oranges, cornflower blues, all shades of grey, shades of white and shades of brown and near black occur. Agates displaying "dingy" colouration occur frequently, being shades of brown or orange with few discernable markings amongst very dark fortifications.
At the time of writing (August 4th 2016), the quarry is again being worked, newly installed with a large metal gate and with a lot of movement of material. I have not entered the quarry since I became aware of this fact, you can see from the picture that my intrusion would likely be unwise without first locating the local farmer. Pottering around a disused quarry is one thing, one in operation, well....it's another thing entirely.