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79mm x 56mm

This agate was found at extremely low tide, on a spring tide in fact, underneath a huge boulder balanced on large buried boulders below, surrounded by bubbling pink sea anemones, firmly pressed into the mud, aswell as being jammed between other similarly-sized stones. Normally the edifice I was now underneath was under 2 or 3 metres of water. I had arrived at the location in the evening, and it was now dark and by torchlight I was attempting to partially crawl under the boulder to retrieve the stone, which I had originally thought was just another, albeit uncommonly large, nodule of the yellowish jasper that is occasionally picked up in the area. I was unable to prise it out using my fingers, and in any case I was not yet sure if it was worthy of careful, and in this case drastic, procurement. I committed a beach fossicker's sin. I took my hammer and chisel from my bag, and attempted to knock it out using as little force as possible, but with the chisel making contact with the stone. 


                       I could not get any leverage in my compromised position, with my belly against the mud and shingle, and my shoulders crammed up against the boulder above. I shifted slightly and was able to tap the hammer a few times which still did not immediately shift my quarry! The omnipresent tide was beginning to roll across the stones behind me. Where I was, in a flat area with towering rocks to my right, when the tide came in, it came in at speed. Soon the water would be lapping at my feet. Eventually I was able to make one sharp blow, with the chisel tight-up against the stone. This did the trick, and the stone was free! To my surprise, I immediately knew it was an outsized agate nodule, because I had chipped and dislodged a 2 or 3 centimetre section from the top.


                       The banding was in black and white, and I was elated, but also, in quick succession, mortified! I had just inadvertantly damaged what may turn out to be an exeptional specimen! The damage was eventually repaired using lapidary glue by David Hudson, who also cut and polished the agate. The break I caused with my chisel strike can clearly be seen in the upper portion of the face photographed above. As I slipped the mostly intact stone into my rucksack, I could see the fog stained red with the streetlights of Usan and Ferryden in the distance, and at the same time gunshots rang out from the farm half a mile or so from where I stood. Were they taking potshots at barnyard rats perhaps? This was the night of the 19th of March, 2015, the night of the day before a total lunar eclipse. An aptly dramatic clime for a dramatically weathered agate. 



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