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High Down Quarry (Heddon Quarry), West Buckland, North Devon, Devon, England, UKi
Regional Level Types
High Down Quarry (Heddon Quarry)Quarry (Abandoned)
West BucklandTown
North DevonDistrict
EnglandConstituent Country

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
51° 2' 38'' North , 3° 55' 30'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
Locality type:
Quarry (Abandoned) - last checked 2019
Deposit first discovered:
Before 1785
Köppen climate type:
Nearest Settlements:
Swimbridge669 (2018)3.3km
Chittlehampton239 (2018)3.8km
South Molton5,108 (2018)7.1km
Goodleigh450 (2018)7.4km
Bratton Fleming928 (2018)8.8km

Type locality for Wavellite.

'High Down Quarry' is an ancient quarry. It is one of the few type localities which, although hundreds of years old, still has the potential to provide museum quality specimens. There is in existence a specimen on public display in Barnstaple Museum which is claimed to have been one of the original ones collected prior to 1785. The quarry listed by Natural England as an SSSI is opened in the Codden Hill Cherts and there appears to be no record of when the quarry was active.

Interestingly, this quarry together with others, appears on a map dated about 1780 in the Fortescue archive in Exeter. No map from 1780 to the present actually names any of the quarries. The author of this [David Ifold] has been unable to find any genuinely old labels on specimens that say 'High Down Quarry'. The name High Down Quarry first appears in the literature in 1910 when Inkermann Rogers (1866-1959) led a field trip in North Devon.

It is important to note that Wavellite has been recorded in recent years from at least three quarries which are covered by the geographical name High Down and so this may not be the precise quarry that the type specimens came from. In fact , whilst someone was digging holes for garden fence posts, broken hemispheres to 11mm of Wavellite were thrown aside. Collectors might like to think carefully about where their specimen actually comes from and label it with a grid reference. The quarry behind High Down Cottages also yields Wavellite specimens although collecting is currently not permitted.

The quarry given Site of Special Interest Status (SSSI) is close to Heddon which would be a better and much less confusing name. As Wavellite occurs so close to the surface, the old specimens in museums may have been found when the cottages were built or the local roads completed. Wavellite occurs as hemispheres and exceptionally rarely as complete spheres. The phosphate is likely to be of fossil origin.

The quarry listed as the type locality is privately owned by The Castle Hill Estate. The estate management will respond favourably to written requests to visit the quarry outside of the pheasant shooting season. Collecting also requires the written consent of Natural England who will check with the landowners. Consent for sensible non-commercial collecting may be given from 1st March to the end of August.

Devon Wavellite is a classic example of how mineral 'experts' have 'corrected' labels and reduced the scientific value of their material. Old specimens are labelled Devonshire, Barnstaple, Barnstable, Filleigh or South Molton. There are numerous North Devon locations that can produce specimens but sadly collectors unfamiliar with the area do not recognize this. Indeed, the quarry behind High Down Cottages produces identical material to the quarry that Natural England call High Down Quarry!

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Gallery Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Mineral List

6 valid minerals. 1 (TL) - type locality of valid minerals.

Detailed Mineral List:

Evansite ?
Formula: Al3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
Habit: Amorphous.
Colour: Milk white to creamy white, also various light to mid browns when stained by 'limonite'
Description: Many fracture surfaces in the Wavellite-rich mudstones are coated with a milky-white, amorphous material, often stained with 'limonite'. No crystalline structure has been observed in this material to date. Some fractures completely infilled with this material. Placement on the outside of wavellite balls places formation late in the mineralisation of the site. While still wet, the texture is somewhat greasy and reminiscent of fungal growth, but on drying, a fine, earthy texture is revealed, with a hardness of around 2.5 - 3 Tentative identification requires further investigation.
Reference: Alysson Rowan collection
Formula: α-Fe3+O(OH)
Habit: Massive, encrusting
Colour: Brownish-black to golden-brown, often iridescent
Description: Appears as brownish-black, varnish-like films,dark brown to golden-brown encrustations and as fine, iridescent, botryoidal films.
Reference: Alysson Rowan collection
Formula: CaSO4 · 2H2O
Habit: Euhedral, typically blocky, tabular, occasionally prismatic to 2mm. Also encrusting, anhedral.
Colour: Clear white to yellowish and brownish.
Description: Soft, delicate druses of fine gypsum crystals on some parts of the quarry north wall. Occasionally deposited on mosses and lichens.
Reference: Alysson Rowan collection
Formula: (Fe,O,OH,H2O)
Colour: Chocolate brown
Description: Limonite in botryoidal apprearence is present on the matrix.
Reference: Paul De Bondt collection
Formula: SiO2
Habit: Druses of crystal points, otherwise massive.
Colour: White, transparent.
Description: Found as druses and massive veins in some fractures; A major quartz mass exists as a vein filling a fault that cuts the northern wall of the quarry - here the quartz encloses brecciated mudstones, and itself is somewhat brecciated.
Reference: Alysson Rowan Collection
Formula: AlPO4 · 2H2O
Reference: BMS Database
Wavellite (TL)
Formula: Al3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
Type Locality:
Reference: Palache, C., Berman, H., & Frondel, C. (1951), The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana, Yale University 1837-1892, Volume II. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 7th edition, revised and enlarged, 1124 pp.: 963; BMS Database

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 4 - Oxides and Hydroxides
Group 7 - Sulphates, Chromates, Molybdates and Tungstates
Gypsum7.CD.40CaSO4 · 2H2O
Group 8 - Phosphates, Arsenates and Vanadates
Evansite ?8.DF.10Al3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
Variscite8.CD.10AlPO4 · 2H2O
Wavellite (TL)8.DC.50Al3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
Unclassified Minerals, Rocks, etc.

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Gypsum29.6.3.1CaSO4 · 2H2O
Variscite40.4.1.1AlPO4 · 2H2O
Evansite ? · 6H2O
Wavellite (TL),F)3 · 5H2O
Group 75 - TECTOSILICATES Si Tetrahedral Frameworks
Si Tetrahedral Frameworks - SiO2 with [4] coordinated Si
Unclassified Minerals, Mixtures, etc.

List of minerals for each chemical element

H WavelliteAl3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
H VarisciteAlPO4 · 2H2O
H Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
H GypsumCaSO4 · 2H2O
H Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)
H EvansiteAl3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
O WavelliteAl3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
O VarisciteAlPO4 · 2H2O
O Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
O QuartzSiO2
O GypsumCaSO4 · 2H2O
O Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)
O EvansiteAl3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
F WavelliteAl3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
Al WavelliteAl3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
Al VarisciteAlPO4 · 2H2O
Al EvansiteAl3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
Si QuartzSiO2
P WavelliteAl3(PO4)2(OH,F)3 · 5H2O
P VarisciteAlPO4 · 2H2O
P EvansiteAl3(PO4)(OH)6 · 6H2O
S GypsumCaSO4 · 2H2O
Ca GypsumCaSO4 · 2H2O
Fe Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
Fe Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)

External Links

Other Regions, Features and Areas containing this locality

British IslesGroup of Islands
Eurasian PlateTectonic Plate

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