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Clwyd Powys Metal Mines Survey

Mountains and Orefields:
Metal Mining Landscapes of Mid and North-east Wales

New in the Council for British Archaeology's Research Reports list is CPAT's Mountains and Orefields: metal mining landscapes of mid and north-east Wales. This report breaks new ground by providing a synthesis of information on a range of non-ferrous metal mining sites, and a broad chronological framework from Roman to Victorian times.It focuses in most detail, however, on the period of rapid expansion in workings during the 18th and 19th centuries.


Mountains and Orefields: metal mining landscapes of mid and north-east Wales presents the results of project work by CPAT in the 1990s on non-ferrous metal mining sites in the historic counties of Breconshire, Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Flintshire and Denbighshire, funded by Cadw for the purpose of enhancing the Schedule of Ancient Monuments and the Regional Sites and Monuments Record. The project involved a desk-top element, creating a database of known sites, which was followed up by extensive measured ground surveys and photographic surveys of a number of mining sites selected either for scheduling purposes or because they presented a representative and coherent picture of mining and processing activities at different periods. A majority of the mining sites date to the period between the 17th and late 19th centuries though some, including those which were surveyed in detail, include evidence of prehistoric, Roman or medieval workings. A slightly different approach was taken with some mining areas such as Halkyn Mountain in Flintshire which show extensive areas of bell-pits. Here mining complexes were mapped from aerial photography with detailed field survey restricted to a limited number of features.


Cwm Elan. This relatively small and compact mine occupied an area of less than 5 hectares at the head of an upland valley on the fringes of the remote and desolate moorland of Elenydd. The landscape had previously been occupied by little other than a number of small, scattered and seasonally-occupied farmsteads from at least the medieval period. Mining operations began in the late 18th century, but most of the surviving remains belong to a single phase of operation dating to the late 19th century, and represent one of the most intact examples of late 19th-century mining technology and planning in mid Wales. Lead ore was first discovered during the cutting of a drainage leat in about 1796. The early workings were at first carried out under the supervision of the landowner, Thomas Grove, ‘a Wiltshire gentleman, who purchased 10,000 almost worthless acres’ of the Grange of Cwmteuddwr in 1792. photo: © CPAT 03-C-609


Nantiago. Shaft and pithead winding wheels at Nantiago mine, on the eastern slopes of Plynlimon. The rock-cut wheelpit, measuring about 18 by 2.95 metres across, is surrounded by a surviving timber framework and has a rock-cut balance-box pit at its south-east corner. The wheel provided power for pumping via a system of flat-rods supported on a series of pier bases between the wheelpit and the shaft. Photo: © CPAT CS92-12-08


Nantiago. Winding drum. Nantiago was the subject of several mining ventures from the 1840s until the early 20th century. Originally known as Plynlimon Mine, it was inspected in 1846 by Matthew Francis for the lessee Robert Parry. His report noted a 12-foot waterwheel that he considered hopelessly inadequate for driving crushing and dressing machinery, and recommended further investment in two new waterwheels. Photo: © CPAT CS92-13-05


Penyclun Mine. The small Cornish engine house is a two-storey structure built of stone with brick dressings. The building is about 5.5 by 4 metres across and survives to a height of about 8 metres. Penyclun was for a while the most productive mine in Montgomeryshire. It seems that ore was first discovered by the resident farmer around 1845, the discovery was kept secret for some time apparently, until being divulged by his son while under the influence of drink. Photo: © CPAT CS94-31-35


Craig y Mywn. View of the fan of debris washed down the hill by mining operations at the top. Craig-y-Mwyn mine lies at a height of about 500 metres on the steep, north-facing slopes of Y Clogydd on the eastern edge of the Berwyn mountains in north-west Powys, its name means ‘mine/ore cliff’. The earliest phase of mining and may be medieval, Roman or even prehistoric in date. Photo: © CPAT CS94-33-13

One of primary objectives of the book is to make a synthesis of the results of this survey work to a wider readership. The emphasis throughout is upon the landscape aspects of the mining sites, including topography and setting as well as the interpretation from the physical remains of the mining techniques used above ground, the sources of power, methods of transport, and on-site processing. Lavishly illustrated with 141 line drawings and photographs including some very dramatic air photographs, this could make an excellent Christmas present.

Summary of Contents
Introduction by Mark Walters and Nigel Jones
Geological and historical background by Mark Walters
Interpreting the mining landscapes of mid Wales by Nigel Jones and Pat Frost
Interpreting the mining landscapes of north-east Wales by Pat Frost and Nigel Jones
Managing mining landscapes by Mark Walters
Appendix 1: Gazetteer of metal mines in mid Wales
Appendix 2: Gazetteer of metal mines in north-east Wales
Glossary of mining terms

We hope that Mountains and Orefields ... will be of interest not only to specialists but also to people with a broad interest in landscape and landscape history. We have been keen to take a different approach from other publications on mining history, which tend to focus upon social and economic history or upon surviving buildings and equipment.

To buy a copy write to York Publishing Services, 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe, York, YO31 7ZQ or email: For more information about CBA publications you can visit the CBA website at The Council for British Archaeology.

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