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natural history page title
Identifying rocks, minerals and fossils

Introduction
What is a rock?
What is a mineral?
What is a fossil?
Rock, mineral or 
    fossil?

Rock key
    Sedimentary
   
Igneous

   
Metamorphic
       
Marble / 
            quartzite

       
Crystal band 
            key

       
Gneiss / 
            schist

       
Layers key
        Slate
       
Unknown 
         metamorphic


   
Unknown
Mineral key
Fossil key
Helpful books

  
Slate

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image of westmorland green slate

Your specimen is probably slate. Slate forms when shale, mudstone and volcanic ash are altered by low grade metamorphism. The pressures and temperatures are low so the only soft rocks like these are changed. The minerals in these parent rocks realign themselves into layers which allows slate to be split into sheets very easily.
Slate is a waterproof rock and has been used for many years to tile roofs. It is not found in the Potteries area but can be seen in many parts of Wales where slate mining was an important industry for many years.