Usan

This location extends from the tiny fishing hamlet of Fishtown of Usan to the rocky outcrops beyond Boddin Point and towards Lunan Bay. I have explored this area extensively, as undoubtedly, have many before me, and certain locations, often very small pockets of shingle, are productive time and time again. Many types of agate can be found here, although in my own experience mainly fortification and water-level or onyx agates in grey-blue predominate, while dark grey, lilac, orange, red, pink, brown, and most unusually yellow specimens do also occur. Often the water-level or onyx agates include areas of fortification. Very occasionally agates with moss-like inclusions of green celadonite may be found (of course, agates further north at Scurdie Ness and Ferryden commonly exhibit such inclusions) while more rarely eye-agates occur, mainly of diminutive size and integrated with fortification patterns. Personally I have only one specimen of jasp-agate (in brown, orange, red, pink and blue which is as-yet uncut) 6 examples of zeolitic agates (including one piece collected in a gully low on the shore of 87mm in diameter) and 6 examples of stalactitic agate collected at a small beach within the bounds of the Usan location. I have one other piece where stalactitic formations appear around the edge of the stone, surrounding an onyx and fortification pattern, however, I am as yet unsure if this example is worthy of polishing.

           Specimen size varies considerably. From my own investigations, the agates found at Fishtown of Usan are generally larger than those found further south, being from 3cm to 8cm, although as with most Scottish locations, the larger pieces are rare, and as might be expected are also the most damaged. Further south towards Boddin Point agates may attain slightly larger sizes, up to around 9cm, 10cm for geodes with partial areas of agate, with nodules of quartz up to between 13 and 14cm. However the majority of the agates found in this area tend to be around 1- 4cm with grey-blue or orange-brown colouration. Certain locations within the Usan area exhibit higher populations of pink, brown or yellow stones, as opposed to the usual grey-blue and paying attention to the heavily weathered, pockmarked and barnacle-encrusted areas of black andesitic rock will offer those handy with hammer and chisel the opportunity to extract some fine specimens, perhaps only recently uncovered by the insidious Usan tides.

            For the intrigued beginner interested in exploring this area I would recommend accessing it from Fishtown of Usan which is easily accessible driving from Ferryden Village south of Montrose after taking the Ferryden exit at the Arbroath roundabout close to the railway bridge and then afterwards taking the first right. The roads are a little confusing in this area, but if after turning left after leaving Ferryden the second right encountered thereafter will take you to Fishtown of Usan after first driving past farm buildings situated close to the road. Areas further south are best accessed via Boddin point where there is a good coastal path leading north towards Elephant Rock.