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Dolaucothi Gold Mines


History & Archeology





History and Archeology

In front of you, as you enter Dolaucothi Mines, is a large hollow lined with wooded crags, the Ogofau Pit. This marks the site of an enormous Roman open cast that was dug in order to extract gold from the decomposed rock that filled the hollow. There is evidence that some of the opencast working at Dolaucothi may have been as early as the 6th century BC. This could have been the reason that the Romans invaded Wales. They began serious mining here in AD75 and brought in thousands of slaves to extract the gold for the Imperial Mint at Lyon.

The working mineThe mine fell into disuse for hundreds of years but there is evidence for pre 19th century mining activity along the north-western facing slopes for about 500 metres on either side of the Ogofau Pit. There are a number of pits and opencast workings, some of which were extended underground. Above the level of the Ogof Pit there are two large adits, called the Upper and Lower Roman Adits that, in spite of their names, are really only known to be pre-19th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries some of these workings were extended and other adits dug under them. At the same time a shaft was sunk in the centre of the Ogof Pit to work below the opencast works. Finally, in the 1930s, the shaft was sunk further to about 140 metres and five levels were mined below the Ogofau Pit. This was the most productive period of modern working and £16,862 tones of ore were removed with a value at that time of £11,106. In 1938 work ceased because of the difficulties in recovering the gold from the extracted ore.

Apart from two very distinctive hand-driven tunnels which go into one of the open-pits (the upper and lower Roman levels), the underground areas open to the public are much later in origin, dating from the 19th and early 20th century operations, when at times the mine was worked under the name Roman Deep. These workings were sunk, using drills and explosives, several hundred feet below the mine yard, following the ore along and down.

Buildings and structures that were brought here in the late 1980s when the Olwyn Goch mine near Halkyn in North Wales closed today dominate this central part of the mine. They were never used to work this mine. Dolaucothi Mark can we use the one from the front cover of the leaflet - I’ll get one to you if you haven’t got one [ Inside the Dolaucothi Mines.] Access to the underground workings is subject to a Crown lease because the minerals are subject to a Crown prerogative. Prior to 1999, the lease was held by the University of Wales Cardiff whose mining staff was using part of the site as a field-training centre.

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