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Scrabo Country Park.
County Down.
& Scrabo Quarry.


The name Scrabo is derived from the Irish and means 'Rough or craggy hill' Man has inhabited the hill from the earliest times, stone tools have been found dating from the early and late Mesolithic periods. Rising to a height of 150 meters the site was an obvious choice for human habitation, giving all round views of the countryside and being relatively easily defended. Finds from the Late Bronze age include a bronze socketed axe and a bronze sword, also from this period are a number of hut circles, these are regarded as the best surviving examples from this period in Ireland. Carbon dating some of the hut contents indicate occupation during the third and fourth centuries BC, also found was iron slag proving that the site was in use in the Iron Age. The density and number of hut circles indicate that Scrabo may have been one of the largest communal settlements in Ireland.

Evidence has been found of an extensive hill fort, enclosing an area of 125 hectares

The famous Scrabo stone a type of sandstone was formed during the Triassic period some 160 to 190 million years ago, during this time eastern Ireland and the British Isles were part of a vast desert. The Triassic climate was hot punctuated by intermittent periods of heavy rain which caused erosion, depositing the sand and mud in rivers and shallow lakes, these becoming the marls and sandstones of Scrabo today. The characteristically red colour of the stone is caused by a coating of iron oxide on the sand particles, the more iron present the richer the colour, also the sandstone was heated by basalt lava which intruded into the sandstone some of it made its way to the surface where it formed a hard cap which protected the sandstone from erosion by wind and weather, as well as the scouring effect of the ice sheets.

Man was quick to utilize the excellent qualities of Scrabo stone as a building material, being easily worked yet resistant to erosion, making it suitable not only for the main structure of buildings but also the decorative features. During Norman times it was much used, it can be seen in the monastery of Greyabbey built in 1193 by Affreca, wife of John de Courcy.

Images of Scrabo quarry when it was working on the website of local man Derek Bettie.

The 'Long Bridge' built in 1682 on the site of the present Queens Bridge in Belfast utilized Scrabo stone, it was badly damaged by the passage of the Duke of Schomberg's cannon in 1689 on their way to the yet to be fought Battle of the Boyne. After this the bridge was demolished and replaced, the present bridge was designed by Charles Lanyon. It was Lanyon who designed Queens University in Belfast and indeed the tower that now stands on Scrabo hill. .
Scrabo County Park
Scrabo Hill
Comber Road
Co Down
Tel +44 (0)28 9182 0695
E Mail
Web Site
In the year 1826 Robert Corry the son of a Belfast timber importer, leased part of the hill from the Marquis of Londonderry, and opened the Glebe Quarry, he supplied stone of the building of Queens University mentioned above. Deciding to expand his business in 1838 Robert became a builder, this turned out to be a fortuitous decision, nature conspired to aid Corry to the detriment of many others, when on the 6-7 of January 1839 Ireland was devastated by The Big Wind, much damage was done and no doubt builders and builders merchants found employment for a long time hence.