top of page

Kinneff 2

Since my initial visit to this area, in deepest July 2012, Kinneff has revealed itself to be a location every bit as viable as others more infamous, situated on the north east coast, albeit one where a certain tenacity is required, as specimens can appear to be scarce.


It was only during the summer of 2016 that I decided to give the area my closest attention. Before then, I had visited only a handful of times, and turned up only one exceptional specimen.


As a whole, Kinneff is characterised, by the high quality of much of its material. As a rule of thumb, there are generally far fewer nodules found here purely comprised of granular quartz, than are to be encountered at other locations further south. However, finding a lot of quartz at a location can be a good indication that agate might also occur. So, it can be a challenge to recognise agates and their kin, owing to their relative scarcity as regards locations further south, their highly water worn appearance, and the regular incidence of unusual types in the area, which in itself, is remarkable. Kinneff is especially exposed to the full ferocity of the wind and sea, and many agates here, would be indistinguishable from average pebbles when dry.


Of course, fortification agates predominate, in the usual pale blue grey and white tones, however, often these include segregation spots very similar to those seen in Barras stones. The banding can often be very intricate, and occasionally colours unique to the area are incorporated, such as raspberry reds, peachy oranges, and deep purple. Mostly, the chalcedony appears translucent, however agates that are totally or partially opaque also occur occasionally, usually in pastel shades owing presumably to weathering, but also sometimes in strong colours. Water-level, or Onyx agates occur frequently too, and as is discussed later, the lateral bands of chalcedony are occasionally joined by layers of jasper, smoky quartz, zeolitic material, stalactitic formations and fine crystalline quartz and/or calcite. Fortification agates rarely reach around 7cm in diameter here, but are generally small, being from 1 to 4cm, with the emphasis being on the lower end of the scale.


Moss agates occur regularly, in many colours, including but not limited to white, green, orange, red, pink, brown and dark grey, occasionally showing fine fortification banding in amongst the inclusions. A green that reminds one of pine needles is encountered in mossy stones here. Much of the time, the "moss" can appear globular and thick, but in rare instances finer mossy inclusions can be seen, and twice I have seen red moss in agates here, in one unique example, uniquely feminine fine-fingered tentacles of sleek scarlet moss have created a cellular agate, capturing multiple "habitats" of translucent fortification banding, various shades of chalcedony and pockets of quartz. Moss agates here can again get to be quite large for Scotland, perhaps reaching 7cm in diameter, however, most while being larger than the average agate at this location, usually do not exceed 4 or 5cm.


Zeolitic agates are also a regular find, however, 90% of these are not well -marked and it is only rarely that fortification banding is incorporated into the associated inclusions, usually being a mixture of orange red, grey white and/or sulphur yellow. The acicular inclusions are also generally very fine, and not pronounced or emphatic enough to warrant working in a lapidary capacity. I have so far encountered only one purely zeolitic agate at this location that is of a quality I would deem worthy of accentuating its beauty with a polish. Any others are of interest because they feature unusual fortification banding at the epicentre of an outer layer of inwardly orientated zeolitic sprays. Here, it is possible to find agates of this type up to a size of 9cm in diameter, but again most of those examples encountered are of between 2 and 3cm.


Stalactitic agates occur rarely, and together with the more pronounced zeolitic forms, are the scarcest variety found at this location. Coloured stalactites  are an attribute I actively strive to discover in specimens here, and elsewhere. Yet only once have I found an agate at Kinneff exhibiting such markings. Again, as with examples from St Cyrus, occasionally in the grander specimens, the stalactitic formations display twisting or bending usually at their tips, but I have seen examples where this has occurred halfway along a strand. This suggests a fairly strong current flowed through the vesicle during the latter stages of formation. Perhaps this was of a tidal persuasion, perhaps it initiated from a freshwater source inland. Perhaps it was not water at all, but a current initiated in a sea of silica. That said, the chalcedony appears slightly dirty in one particular specimen, displaying specks of dark perhaps organic matter in the centre of the nodule, which might be suggestive of the invasion of more outside elements than is usual during formation.


Stalactitic agates here are again, mostly small, being of around 2 to 3cm in diameter and so far in my experience, reaching only perhaps 5cm at the upper end of the scale.


This brings us to Jasp-agates, which exhibit a strong tendency in this area to straddle the patchwork between what constitutes an agate, and a piece of jasper. Of course, some agates here contain both mossy inclusions, and a base of jasper, others show an onyx base, or top, with areas of zeoltic inclusions arranged in level layers. Banded, brecciated jasp-agate is encountered here, and only occasionally elsewhere, namedly Lunan Bay and St Cyrus.


Often, what you will find, is the usual reasonably bright, red jasper, with agate inclusions in seams and fissures, usually here being pale fortifications or water level, occasionally in pale pink, orange, or even strong blood red. Despite clearly being agate, the stone feels more granular when examined closely, in comparison with agate, and indeed, you can see that the agate banding is altered in appearance, when viewed through the lower definition of chalcedony less highly refined, appearing gloopy and less detailed.


Some specimens show mossy, and zeoltic inclusions, as well as sections of jasper.


So, popping a particularly unusual stone in its proper pigeonhole quickly becomes problematic. There is a certain joy in this however!


Lastly, agates with crystalline impressions, or very rarely, large pseudomorphs after what I suspect is predominately calcite, occur at this location, very rarely. Usually, in my small experience, pseudomorphs of this nature are encountered in small coloured, fortification and onyx agates.

bottom of page