The Dryhead agate site is located in the Bighorn Canyon area of Montana, just north of the Wyoming border. This is a remote area which, even today, is largely unsettled. Historically, the area was used as hunting ground for Native Americans, who used the cliffs to drive buffalo to their deaths. As part of their hunting rituals, the tribes of this region stacked the heads from the buffalo to dry and bleach in the sun. These stacks of bleached skulls gave the area its famous name – DRYHEAD.
Dryhead agates should be considered sedimentary agates, as they were encased in the remnants of an ancient seabed. The nodules usually resemble a concretion, and it is believed that, like other concretion formations, these Dryhead nodules sometimes contain evidence of fossilized remains. Dryhead agates are characterized by their broad, richly colored bands, as well as by the absence of any fine banding that would give a shadow, or iris, effect. The bands' predominant colors are yellow, orange, and white, though pink, purple, and blue can also be seen. Often, crystalline quartz alternates with the banding, giving rise to amethyst or smoky quartz. In contrast to the colors of the banding, the outer matrix of the nodule, described as a jasper, carries a rich, purple-hued chocolate coloring. The outer matrix of the nodules is softer than the agate center, and therefore does not polish as highly.
Dryhead agates were most generally found in shallow beds of nodules, usually no more than a few feet deep. Most were hand-dug from claims in the area that date back to the early 1960s. At one time, many claims existed in the area, though no commercial mining operations ever materialized. Private contracts have since run out, and ranch owners are not amenable to further mining activity. No commercial activity is known to be in the planning stages.
Please contact us if you know of any commercial plans for this area or if you have a quantity of good agates for sale.