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Website: www.mike.munro.cwc.net/mining/wmpt/wmpt_frm.htm NEWSLETTER – APRIL 2006 Welcome to the May 2006 edition of the Trust newsletter, If you have paid your subscriptions for 2006, thank you. If you have not yet paid your 2006 subs, Nigel Chapman the Membership Secretary will be pleased to receive your cheque for £8.00. DAVID BICK I am sure, by now, most of you will be aware of the sad passing in January of the founder of the Welsh Mines Society and the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust, David Bick. Terry Evans has written a tribute to David, which gives a wonderful insight into a man who we will all miss and who will be affectionately remembered on many a Welsh hill-side over the years.

DAVID BICK 1929-2006. As with any well-cut precious stone there were many sides to DEB. “E” for Ewart not for enigmatic. His metal-mining output will be well known to all members reading this piece so hopefully some other aspects can be looked at. A re-read of the booklet ‘A Short History of the Bickwagon 1938-1959’ illuminates his fascination with elderly motors. This interest in pensionable and temperamental vehicles, meaning their rebuilding and cosseetting plus their coaxing and frequent abuse was a constant theme throughout his life, never fading. In truth just about all of David's interests were firmly in place in the IPL phase (IPL= immediately post Leeds ie. early 50s). During his final years of life, when not so well, he so enjoyed talking over those times. These shared words brought the familiar mischievous sparkle back to those eyes accompanied by that distinctive chuckle. Some examples follow and reflect his wide interests. Frequently the capabilities and foibles of certain ex-LMS 'Jubilee' 4-6-0s, were talked over, since these were the machines which carried David between Leeds and Cheltenham at the start and finish of University terms. The Brightside to Rotherham

2 section of the journey was a favourite due to the spectacle provided by Siemen's open-hearth furnaces at such as Cyclops Works and Steel, Peach and Tozer. As a Spa boy the constant black grit inside the sash-window of his Leeds digs was never forgotten. He loved the ex-GWR ' Saint' class 4-6-0s which we saw much of in the Cheltenham/Gloucester area prior to 1952. One story about these particular locos he brought into conversation thrice in 2005 demonstrating his need for continuity of memory through personal history. Much time was spent near railway lines often with Ewart, David's father, in the group. A well-liked eyrie was in the woods above Sapperton tunnel - a spot now hidden in impenetrable jungle since the demise of those hardworking spark-throwing steamers. Occasionally Sunday morning found a group of us visiting Swindon works at 1/- per head and when David barked such as "There were not many 'Granges' in for attention" one somehow felt personally responsible. You will all recognise that feeling. This characteristic of instructing the serf to perform on his behalf never evaporated, but no-one minded. After all that was the way the Welsh Mines Society successfully functioned.

“Three Stylish Adventurers” Brazil, Bick D, Evans. Easter 1957 Caradon. These motoring and railway aspects related to his mechanical engineering background and his fine career with the Dowty Group It was always fun to play the ‘hairy mechanicals’ v ‘suave sparkies’ game with him ( I.Mech.E. v I.Elec.E.). David's greatest pride was over both the receipt of the Bramah Medal for his hump yard retarder and the founding of the WMS. He always talked engineering matters analytically but in a down-to-earth fashion and this approach shows in the popularity of his writing on several differing subjects. Always accessible as a communicator he was never snobbish though occasionally guilty of inverted snobbery. Thus he always quietly acknowledged the achievements of others and supported them when necessary.


Bick studies the axle – Cwm Rhaiadr Mine

“A typical campsite” Bick D and Evans frenziedly feed, Brazil prepares the next course. Cornwall Easter 1957. January's end reflected all these aspects when tribute was paid at Hatherley Manor. It was then said that 'Sentimental Journey' could not be played on the harmonica. Perhaps it cannot but one remembers the blues blown o’er the dark shoulder of Arenig Fawr by the evening breezes. Singing and playing a few favourite tunes was a way of life in those times. Caving, climbing, digging out metal mines, cycling, Mozart and

4 the Trad Jazz revival all seemed to go together. Mozart remained David's favourite composer and in his last three years he was still occasionally enjoying concerts at Cheltenham Town Hall. During the 1950s the CBSO under Rudolf Schwarz performed there on Wednesday evenings attended by a motley gang including DEB. We paid 3/6d then. This of course was at the time of acetylene lamps and clothes-line ropes and no helmets.

“Cycling around Mid-Wales mines – half a century ago” Hall, Bick D, Evans One was always accepted by David if one were not expecting the Sergeant-Major to kiss one goodnight. Muck in and take as found with no airs and graces and then you were in. As long as one gave as good as one got he was a sincere friend, awarding you points for disagreement and argument but also never changing his fixed views. Payment in kind took many forms. Your writer's task was the hand filing of shims for the Bickwagon's big-ends. Saturday was the normal day for this sort of thing the work being carried out in the Montpellier workshop associated with Father Bick's leather and travelling goods business on the opposite side of the street. This the Cheltenham Montpellier not the French one! See Archive No.24 for an article about the family business. A handful of worker bees came along, the reward being trips to Mid or N. Wales. In my own case this was a holiday task since I attended school on Saturdays. Nevertheless the world-famous and renowned 36mpg run from Cheltenham to Dolgellau was achieved after the fitting of 8 new shims- why so will remain a mystery as any improvement to the Bickwagon was only temporary. Further details in 'A Short History of the Bickwagon'. David's keen interest in local history has been a surprise to some who have only recently learnt of this, the same being true of his water colours. He was President of the Glos. Society for Industrial Archaeology for several years, a position currently held by his long-time acquaintance Amina Chatwin. He also fell out with a number of

5 Societies due to them not coming round to his point of view but it was typical of him that so many people from so many organisations attended on the 31st. of January.

“Doin’ what comes naturally”. Virtuous Lady Mine, Buckland Monachorum. Easter 1957. This ragbag of reminiscence will not change how much he will be missed by so many but he leaves a fertile foundation that can only lead to a flourishing future for the WMPT and the WMS. One problem remains-to whom does one now pass on one's copies of 'Private Eye'?. Terry Evans – Chairman WMPT Photographs courtesy of George Hall

WORKING WEEKEND – CWMSYMLOG CHAPEL 8TH/9TH APRIL 2006 During our visit to Cwmsymlog during last summers Heritage Weekend, we noticed how overgrown the graveyard, the last resting place of Capt W H Boundy of South Darren Mine, had become. It was decided that we would return this spring to give it a tidy up. I contacted the Chapel Committee who greatfully accepted our offer to tidy up the graveyard, my thanks to Mrs June Griffiths of Aberystwyth for her help.


Simon Hughes standing outside the Chapel (Aug 2005). We arrived at Cwmsymlog on the Saturday morning in fine sunny weather to find ash tree saplings growing amongst the graves and the top left hand corner of the graveyard covered in brambles. We soon got to work and the smoke from the bonfires filled the air. Two days of very hard work from all those who attended resulted in the graveyard being transformed. Graves that had been covered in brambles for many years were again exposed. It was great to see what was at one time the centre of the local community, looking cared for again.

This is how the the graveyard looked when we arrived.


Nigel Chapman and David James get the bonfire going.

Nigel Chapman starting his battle with the brambles.


Christine Smith amongst the gravestones.

The grave of Capt W H Boundy of South Darren Mine. Who died on Jan 25th 187, aged 35.


Steve Oliver and Robert Ireland at the grave of Capt Boundy.

Whilst clearing the brambles, a very interesting discovery was made, four unmarked childrens graves were found. The discovery of these graves caused much interest and speculation, about their age and the identity of their occupants. Mrs Griffiths was unable to provide any

10 information from the Chapel records, but she is hoping to find some information for us. I received a very nice letter from Mrs Griffiths, thanking us for the work we carried out, she also made a donation of £30 to the Trust. I quote from her letter:“Thank you so very much for your letter and photographs of Cwmsymlog. My mother, husband David and 1 visited the graveyard on Bank Holiday Monday to place flowers on family graves - and we couldn't believe our eyes how the place had changed! We could actually see the path and walk amongst the graves. We hadn't realised that you had been there the first weekend in April - I'm so sorry to have missed you all, and the opportunity to thank your team for such a fantastic job. You have all worked extremely hard and we (the Chapel Committee) and myself personally can't thank you enough for what you have done. It's so heart warming to know that people like you exist and that you are so ready to help in projects such as these. My mother shed a tear or two when she saw how wonderful the cemetery looked and wants to convey her sincerest thanks to you all. Once again Mr. Levins, thank you for keeping the Spirit of the Miners alive Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you concern and your hard work. Diolch yn fawr and God Bless you all.” Receiving a letter such as this, makes it all worthwhile. On the Sunday Dave and Moggy spent some time clearing vegetation from around the wheel-pit at Skinner’s Shaft. My thanks to the Pryse/Gogerddan Estate and to Llewellyn Humphries their agents for granting us permission.

Dave & Moggy at Skinner’s Shaft wheel-pit.


To conclude this report I must thank Steve Oliver, Christine Smith, Jenny Gowing, David James, Simon Hughes, Robert Ireland, Roger Bird, Nigel Chapman, Peter Austin, Dave and Moggy for all their hard work and for making the weekend a success. I am hoping to arrange a further weekend at Cwmsymlog later in the year (October). Graham Levins CATHERINE & JANE WORKING WEEKEND – 29/30 APRIL 2006 Unfortunately I was unable to attend this weekend due to work commitments. According to reports I have had from Harold Morris and Barry Clarke, a good weekend was enjoyed by all who attended. The main work of the weekend was at the lower dressing floor, Harold had found a reference in an old sale notice for the mine stating that there was a saw-pit at the mine. Just above the lower dressing floor there is a small pit, that previously was thought to be a water wheel-pit. However over the weekend this was excavated and the small trees growing within were cleared, this pit was confirmed to be a saw-pit.

Clearing out the saw-pit (photo Barry Clarke) Barry Clarke and Sam excavated a slot into the masonary plinth opposite Bigland’s Wheel-pit, to confirm that it was not a capping over a shaft. Excavtions showed that it was a masonary plinth that would have supported the rods from Bigland’s Wheel to the Middle Level. Which leaves the question, where was the shaft shown on the plans to be in this area ? No doubt the search for this will continue at a later date.


The masonary plinth. (Photo taken April 2005) Simon Chapman continued his excavation and research of the Engine House ruins. My thanks to all those who attended, Barry Clarke, “Sam”, Simon Chapman, Barry and Mary Dupree, Bryan Grimston, Paul Smyth and last but not least “Capt.” Harold Morris who ran the weekend in my absence, my thanks also to Harold and Barry for their help in organising the weekend and to Tilhill Forestry for their continuing permission to carry out our work at the mine. The next Working Weekend at Catherine & Jane Consols will be Sat & Sun 7th & 8th October, as usual meet at the Forestry gate at 1030, both days. [Ed] Capt. Harold Morris and Barry Dupree, standing in the saw-pit. (Photo Barry Clarke)

13 OPEN DAYS AT PEN Y CLUN The Trust will be holding “open days” at Pen Y Clun mine, on Friday 16th June and Monday 19th June, the days before and after the WMS June meeting in Cwm Elan. Meet at the Car Park at Bwlch Y Gle on B4518 (NGR 922 822) at 1100 am, from where we will walk to the mine. Please do not drive to the mine as parking is very limited and will cause problems to the farmer. We will be carrying out projects on both days, if you wish to take part please contact Steve Oliver, he will advise you what tools etc. to bring. Steve’s contact details:01686-440358 email:- christine_steve@tiscali.co.uk CWMYSTWYTH – ENVIRONMENT AGENCY MEETING 4th May 2006 The meeting was chaired by Stuart Cory of Parson Brinkerhoff, who explained that Peter Wade who had been heading the project had moved on to work for another company. Stuart explained the purpose of the meeting was to gain further knowledge of the site from those present, particularly Simon Hughes and Robert Protheroe-Jones who have a wealth of knowledge. The Agency had carried out limited sampling from various points up and downstream of Pugh's Adit and the results were very inconclusive and contradictory. The various options for treating the discharges were discussed and the site was also visited to clarify certain points about land available for passive treatment works etc. The conclusion was that much more sampling for a longer time period was required to try to fully understand the site and that this would be carried out in the near future. The conclusions from this would be circulated for discussion. As per the previous meeting the approach was a frank and open one and contributions from all parties present were taken on board by the consultants. On a personal note, from what I heard, I can only see a single active processing plant downstream of the site to be the effective way of dealing with this particular site. I'm well aware of the on-going cost implications of this but I can not see any other viable alternative. Steve Oliver


WMPT GETS A MENTION ON TV Last week I was watching a re-run of Fred Dibnah’s “Made in England” series, on the UK Documentary Channel (having missed most of it first time round due to shift work). Fred was at Parys Mountain, during this visit he stopped at the Pearl Engine House, where it was explained to him that the building was restored by the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust. EXCAVATIONS OF EARLY MINE WORKINGS AT TWLL Y MWYN (CWM DARREN) AND ERGLODD, CEREDIGION Small-scale excavation and survey work was undertaken by the Early Mines Research Group at the Twll y mwyn (Cwm Darren) lead/copper mine near Pen-bont Rhydybeddau, Cwmerfin (SN 682 833) and Erglodd lead mine near Talybont (SN 657 903) in June 2005 as part of a continuing programme of investigation of sites of primitive mining in mid-Wales. This work was part-funded by WMPT and the Board of Celtic Studies. TWLL Y MWYN

Historical background Worked after 1850 in conjunction with the eastern part of Darren as Cwm Darren Mine, the original working of Twll y mwyn (archane term lit.: ‘mine pit’) on the north side of the Erfin Valley was already considered ‘ancient’ at the time Lewis Morris’ miners re-opened this old opencut rake circa..1744 and found evidence for it having been “..wrought…before the use of iron was found out, and when mankind knew the use of no tools but stone…..” (Morris IN Bick & Davies 1991,37). Morris reported his discovery here of a rich vein of the ‘finest steel-grained silver ore’ yielding up to 60 ounces of silver per ton of lead ore within the bottoms of the old openwork no more than ‘nine yards deep’. He also commented on the evidence for

15 ancient firesetting and primitive working of the mine using stone mining hammers and wedges fabricated from beach pebbles. The survival of a rich vein of silver ore within the bottom of this working might suggest that this was not the ore that was being actively sought by the earliest miners. An alternative explanation could be that a shallower and much wider body of silver/lead ore above this had already been removed in preference to the deeper and narrower vein, or else that drainage problems had caused the premature abandonment of the mine. Interestingly, both Morris and later Humphries (Mining Journal 1861, SEE Bick 1976, 16-17) refer to the presence of copper ore at Cwm Darren, and one part of the mining sett (the ‘Copper Level’) eventually produced almost as much copper as lead ore (Foster-Smith 1979, 36). However, until recently David Bick was still of the opinion that the first (prehistoric) miners here were seeking silver and lead rather than copper (Bick 1999, 12). It was partly with the intention to examine the above hypothesis, and partly with the hope of being able to find and date an intact section or in situ. deposit of early mine spoil or mining sediments, that small-scale excavation and survey of the surface earthworks at Twll y mwyn was undertaken in June 2005. Survey and excavation A tape and level contour survey of the old opencast quarry works and surrounding grassed-over spoil mounds has revealed how little the site has changed since the mid18th century, with prospection trenches and old field banks still recognisable from those visible on Morris’plans. Two evaluation trenches were opened up. The first of these trenches was dug to assess the nature of a possible early spoil mound lying immediately to the north of the opencast, and just to the south of Ger y coed smallholding. Much of this ‘spoil mound’ in fact consisted of soil mixed with redeposited mine waste eroded from the external face of the working and then washed downslope. Whilst this did contain a number of stone hammer fragments, as well as small amounts of charcoal, all of it was considered to be secondary (although probably not formed not long after the earliest working of the mine). A second trench was excavated within the area of the old opencast. As it happened, this turned out to be right on the edge of the original opencut shown on Morris’ 1746 plan, and in an area now concealed by mine spoil and a recent tractor route across the site. The trench was within 5 metres of an 18th century shaft dug to investigate the old working. Two of the sections revealed about a metre of ancient mine spoil consisting of five distinct layers of alternate coarse and fine crushed rock and veinstuff, with charcoal, burnt rock fragments and many worked hammer stones and hammer spalls (flakes) which lay just above the early ground surface. The ancient ground surface here had been considerably burrowed by animals; evidently this was originally a welldeveloped brown meadow soil which had formed over the rock outcrop and vein prior to the excavation of the mine. Apart from hammer stones, no other mining artefacts were found within the mining layers. However, thick and undisturbed layers of coarse oak charcoal suggested to us that the lowermost layers here were probably all in situ. examples of early mine spoil connected to the original firesetting and primitive working of the mine, rather than

16 just re-deposited tip from the 18th century re-working. The change in the angle of dip of the basal spoil layers encountered pointed to a change in the direction of upcast of spoil, thus evidence perhaps for working from two sides of an open rock-cut trench, perhaps even two separate phases of mining. However, the steep southerly dip of all these layers indicated a mine working which once lay immediately to the north of the present location of this recorded section. A number of mineral samples were collected for future analysis, including an example of the 1” vein of steel-grey lead ore (argentiferous galena) described by Lewis Morris as being found by his miners within the bottoms of the ancient working. These specimens are to be studied in the near future for their distinctive minor mineral species and silver content. This may help provide us with an indication of the type of ores mined, as well as the minerals thrown away in prehistory.

Stone mining tools The cobble hammer-stone mining implements recovered from the excavations were briefly examined for initial comparison with the descriptions of these tools provided by Lewis Morris in 1746. Morris refers to the use of “..stone wedges which they drove in with other stones.. (and these were)..sea stones, with one end nipped off to an edge ….(with) an impression on the other end where they used to strike them” (Morris IN Bick & Davies 1991, 37). Whilst the re-use of broken hammer-stones in this manner is perfectly credible (indeed there are examples of stones re-used as wedges (‘picks’ or ‘chisels’) within the workings on Copa Hill; SEE Timberlake 2003, 91-93), there were no particular indications that the Twll y mwyn assemblage of tools had been used in any different way from those found at other sites i.e. these stones were employed here for battering and breaking up the rocks, and then when flaked and broken, were re-used as convenient wedges, chisels, picks, crushing stones

17 and anvils, but with little or no evidence for specific tool creation. The only tool of really unique interest here was a perfect discoid hand-held cobble hammer ; this was of a type probably used for both pecking and crushing and perhaps even for grinding ore on a mortar/anvil stone. Other examples of these have been found in mid-Wales, although better ones have been collected from the mines of Alderley Edge (Timberlake & Prag 2005, 68:Type E). Radiocarbon dating Charcoal was collected from the excavations for purposes of radiocarbon dating, and one of these samples, from the basal layer of mine spoil [006] within Trench B1 was selected for AMS dating. This provided a date of 3470 +/- 40 BP, or Cal BC 1910 to 1700 at 95% probability [Beta-214943]. Discussion On its own, a single date from this mine can only provide us with an indication of the early period of exploitation. However, the date range 1900 –1700 BC is in fact rather typical for these Ceredigion primitive mines, just as it is for the earliest mining on the Great Orme, the main phase of mining at Mynydd Parys, and for the post-prospecting phase of activity at Alderley Edge in Cheshire (Timberlake 2003 b). Thus the above date range is probably quite representative of the period during which this source was contributing metal into circulation. An important issue has been to try and establish without doubt, the identity of the ore being removed and processed. This is actually quite hard to prove. What we can say is that this copper-rich part of the lode appears to have been targeted by the earliest miners, and that both galena and chalcopyrite were removed, but only the galena (apparently) was discarded. Some of this chalcopyrite may have been oxidised to malachite or other copper minerals, yet the bulk of it would still have been a sulphide ore. The volume of rock removed from this working during the Bronze Age, hence an estimate of the amount of ore extracted, processed and smelted, and the % of metal recovered, continues to remain one of the most challenging questions about this, and almost every other site we have ever looked at. Based on the area size of the opencast at surface, Twll y mwyn is arguably the largest prehistoric metal mine in mid-Wales. However, the exact depth of ancient working which now lies buried beneath this completely infilled opencast continues to remain a mystery. Morris referred to this mine trench as being only 9 yards deep, yet during the re-opening of 1850-1852 when the Cwmdaren Adit (Lefel Gopor) finally reached the old mine, and when the engine shaft was sunk to a depth of 50 fathoms beneath adit, Matthew Frances speaks of ‘Roman tools’ (stone hammers) being found within the ‘very deepest parts of the mine’ (Bick 1976; Foster Smith 1979; Mining Journal 1850-56). As we found when excavating the Comet Lode opencast on Copa Hill (most of which, incidentally, had been mined to a similar depth of 9-10 metres), the most successful workings were those which appeared to have been located at the junction of shallow

18 intersecting veins where ore bunches had been extracted en masse. This method of working led to the occasional much deeper excavations, some perhaps in excess 20 metres, which took the form of narrow scrins or fissures allowing for only the minimum amount of rock to be removed. This seems an almost impossible challenge in terms of drainage if one considers the unfavourable geology and possible inflow of water. However, this is what was done. Probably in excess of 7000 cubic metres of rock were mined from Twll y mwyn in prehistory, although little of this spoil is evident today. More than likely the opencast was backfilled with it, perhaps even at the same time as this was being taken out. As mining progressed forward along the vein, some of this spoil would have been stacked within the voids left behind (as ‘deads’). Since these veins are no longer accessible, the grade and thickness of the earliest ore to be mined seems almost impossible to fathom. Regardless of the actual size of working, the volume of chalcopyrite extracted here may well have been rather similar in the end to that removed at Copa Hill (60-90 tons). Given its low copper content and the intractable difficulties in smelting, this ore may only ever have produced 1-2 tons of copper metal, if that (Timberlake 2003). Nevertheless, the scale of this site is still an order of magnitude larger than those prospecting trials we find at Llancynfelin, Erglodd, and Nantyrarian. In the absence of further absolute dating evidence or artefacts, little more can now be said about the duration of the early mining operation. ERGLODD

Historical background Erglodd is part of the Cors Fochno group of ‘primitive mines’ in North Ceredigion previously identified through fieldwalking and archaeological excavation, and previously referred to as such in WMS Newsletter 52 (Item 32). This lead mine was evidently re-worked alongside the Penpompren Mines in the nineteenth century,

19 during which time it was noted that primitive stone mining tools had been un-earthed at various locations within the mine sett; most of those found were recovered from shallow opencast workings, in particular those found at the intersections of the E-W and N-S mineral veins where rich outcrops had once been discovered and worked by ‘the ancients’ (Mining Journal, June 1869). One of these opencast sites here was referred to by SJSH in his 1982 MA thesis ‘Ancient Mining in Mid-Wales’. Our interest in investigating the early history of this mine had been re-kindled by recent discovery of a large Roman/Romano-British lead smelting complex on the margins of Borth Bog just below Erglodd Farm following excavations of the Early Medieval wooden trackway across the Cors by Cambria Archaeology in 2004 and 2005 (Page 2004, 165; Nigel Page pers.comm.). Additionally, a palaeoenvironmental and palaeo-pollution study of peat cores extracted from Borth Bog and Llancynfelin undertaken by a group of us at Coventry University between 2003-2005 (AW 44, p.113) had uncovered evidence for Early and Late Bronze Age burning and minor pollution events on or around the margins of the bog, as well as a very significant episode of lead pollution during the Roman period. Erglodd Mine, being one of the closest workings to the smelting complex, and a little over 500 m from the Roman fort of Erglodd (Davies 1994,306) was an obvious contender for the source of some of this ore used in the Roman hearths. Erglodd has an unusual and distinctive mineralogy which apart from galena, blende and chalcopyrite contains many minor sulphide minerals such as siegenite; the ores here containing small but significant amounts of cobalt, nickel, antimony, silver and gold. So far this ore hasn’t yet been recognized within the part-smelted galena discovered at the Roman lead smelting site (John Mason pers.com.), yet the presence at Erglodd of broken cobble-stone mining hammers within disturbed up-cast from opencasts at the upper eastern end of the mine workings has led to the suggestion that the site could have been worked as far back as the Early Bronze Age (Timberlake 2002, 341). Survey and excavations In June and July 2005 a detailed survey of the ‘ancient’ opencast and its surroundings was undertaken. Much of the ore here appears to have been taken from the junction of two near parallel east-west veins. The true depth of these original workings are unknown, yet it appears that they could have been backfilled at an early date, or else became naturally infilled with scree and organic sediments over hundreds if not thousands of years, much as we find in the Comet Lode Opencast on Copa Hill (Timberlake 2003, 36-38). Nineteenth century re-working of this opencast, however, is very evident in the shape of a substantial digging within the centre of the main trench, alongside the deposition of a large tip (upwards of 500 tons of rock) consisting of a mixture of old clearance spoil and freshly mined material. Unfortunately, several phases of earlier re-working appear to have been swept away by this last phase of activity. This complex history of re-working and re-deposition, and thus disturbance of what must have been the very earliest evidence for mining, soon became apparent to us looking at the results of evaluation trenches slotted through the ‘ancient’ tips in a number of different places. Remarkably little in the way of reliable dating material could be found within any of these layers, and in only one trench were the remnants of a buried and sealed in situ. early spoil tip encountered. As little as 30-40 cms of the

20 very earliest identified mine spoil layer had survived here; this was preserved as a small lens of material resting upon the rock ledge of the opencut beneath layers of redeposited mine waste and soil. The latter material did include occasional fragments of re-deposited stone tools, although no tools or other artefacts were recovered from the very earliest mining layer. The latter was however rich in lumps of broken galena, as well as being full of burnt rock and charcoal. The latter was interpreted as being the remnants of a hand ore-crushing floor mixed with the debris from nearby firesetting activities. Significant amounts of copper ore (chalcopyrite) were recovered from this horizon, although much of what had been discarded was closely associated with galena. A single sample of charcoal was collected for the purposes of radiocarbon dating. Mineral samples from both Erglodd and Twll y mwyn are currently being looked at by John Mason at the National Museum of Wales, for comparison with the 19th century ores.

Radicarbon dating The single sample of charcoal collected from this basal layer (011) within the mine spoil sequence in Trench A1 was submitted for AMS C14 dating. This produced a date of 3800 +/-40 yrs BP, or Cal BC 2340 to 2130 at 95% prob. [Beta-214364]

21 Discussion This early 3rd. millennium BC date for the commencement of mining/ prospecting at Erglodd seems quite remarkable when compared to the typical pattern of Early Bronze Age dates of the late 2nd millennium associated with these sites. Currently this would appear to be the earliest date for metal mining in the UK, but still credible when one takes into account the reliably earlier dates we now have for mining at Cwmystwyth c. 2000-2100 BC (AW 44, 141), Alderley Edge c. 2000 BC (Timberlake & Prag 2005), and the earliest dates of around 2400 BC for the extraction of copper sulphide ores at the Beaker/Early Bronze Age mine of Ross Island, Killarney in Eire (O’Brien 2004). The significance of early activity at this particular site is not clear, although Erglodd along with Llancynfelin (Sites A-C) (AW 32, 35), Dolclettwr and Pwll Roman (AW44) form a distinctive group of prehistoric mining sites along the western margins of Borth Bog. It may be the coastal location of these close to the mouth of the Dovey, an important landfall in the trans-Irish Sea trade and movement of peoples and ideas that is actually important here, since the copper lodes themselves all seem to be small, shallow and discontinuous in this area, with none of them really worth the working (for this metal) during the post-medieval period. In spite of this, recent mineralogical investigations of the Erglodd lodes have shown the modern dumps to be rich in chalcopyrite, with examples of relatively high-grade ore still plentiful (John Mason pers.com.). Also of interest is the presence of significant amounts of the cobalt and nickel-bearing mineral siegenite (Co,Ni,Fe3S4) associated with the pyrite and chalcopyrite phases of mineralisation. This is something which is highly unusual for mid-Wales, as is the gold in concentrations up to 5 gram per ton within the chalcopyrite from this mine (Bevins 1994; J Mason pers.com.). Unfortunately there is no real justification for believing that the prehistoric prospectors who came here were any the wiser for this. What it does suggest, however, is that ore or metal emanating from this source is likely to have had a quite distinctive metal impurity signature (Jenkins & Timberlake 1995). The discovery of large amounts of discarded cobbed galena fragments within this earliest layer of mine spoil at Erglodd is rather similar to the situation on Copa Hill, where the removal and collection of galena appears to be associated with the very earliest prospection activity. At the latter site there was evidence for the handcrushing and separation of chalcopyrite, but at Erglodd the areas for sorting, hand picking and processing these ores were not encountered. However, with such a small relict sample of surviving undisturbed mining material, it would be quite unwise to assume that this was representative of what was going on. Indeed, the process of collection, experimentation and smelting using these ores at the end of the 3rd. millennium remains something of an enigma. We should not rule out the possibility therefore that the mine was first worked as a source of pigment (Bick 1999; Timberlake 2003). Powdered galena will produce a dark grey/black eye and body paint, whilst the partly oxidised copper ores including both malachite and chalcopyrite will produce a range of different coloured green powders. The generally high level of pre- 19th century disturbance of the early mining evidence here is quite unusual. Almost all of the hammer-stones visible on site have been redeposited, whilst the number of different clearances of the old prehistoric trenches

22 suggests both the re-working of the tips for mineral, and/or the re-deposition of spoil in the process of gaining access to the mineral veins. All of these phases of disturbance pre-date the driving of the 19th century clearance adit into the base of the Erglodd opencuts. Although there was no secure dateable material associated with these earlier re-workings, they did clearly post-date the use of stone tools. The possibility therefore of Roman or Romano-British period re-working of this mine for lead should not therefore be lightly dismissed, given the proximity of the BorthLlancynfelin lead smelting complex nearby. For instance, some indication of former mining at this spot would have been visible to the military cohort of the Flavianoccupied (1st century AD) Roman Fort below Erglodd Farm. It seems likely, however that Erglodd may turn out to be a quite a-typical example of the sort of primitive metal mines so far excavated or examined in Ceredigion. Conclusions Some initial interpretations of the date and type of mining witnessed at these two sites can be provided on the basis of these interim excavations and also the provision of single radiocarbon dates. Because of the extensive re-working of both the tips and the mine, Erglodd is unlikely to produce further archaeological evidence. There is however considerable potential for additional work at Twll y mwyn. Twll y mwyn appears to fit quite neatly into an existing pattern for these primitive mining sites. This suggests a phase of working during the Early Bronze Age between 1900-1700 BC, probably for copper. This is probably the largest prehistoric mine of its kind in mid-Wales. Erglodd on the other hand has provided one of the earliest dates for mining in the UK (circa. 2210 BC). As such this dating exercise and excavation needs to be repeated. Nevertheless, the implications of this date are credible. This could well be an example of very early metal prospecting, perhaps associated with the presence of Beaker metallurgists in this part of Wales and/or with connections from across the Irish Sea. Alternatively this activity could have been linked to the procurement of mineral pigments. Clear evidence for later (but probably still ancient) disturbance and reworking of the site might be associated with the procurement of lead ores to supply the major lead smelting operation being undertaken during the Romano-British/ Roman period below Erglodd Farm. Acknowledgements: Brenda Craddock, Phil Andrews, Anthony Gilmour and the author undertook all survey and excavation work at these sites. In addition, Brenda produced the final illustrations for this paper. Louise Barker (RCAHM(Wales)) provided us with some additional GPS data for the survey at Erglodd. This work was part-funded by a Board of Celtic Studies grant (June 2005). Permission to excavate at Erglodd was granted by the landowner John Thomas of Newcastle Emlyn, and Dilwyn of Ty Nant Farm. Thanks also to Meirion Edwards, Ger-y-coed for permission to excavate on his land at Twll y mwyn (Meirion’s grandfather worked in Cwm Darren during the 1920’s re-working). The Welsh Mines Preservation Trust

23 helped to fund one of the C14 dates, for which we are grateful. David Bick also took a keen interest in our work at Twll y mwyn and provided funds out of his own pocket to help support further investigations, including the second date. We would thus like to dedicate this piece in his memory. REFERENCES Bevins, R.E. 1994 A Mineralogy of Wales, National Museum of Wales Geological Series no.16, Cardiff, 137 pp Bick, D.E. 1976 The Old Metal Mines of Mid-Wales Part3: Cardiganshire – North of Goginan , The Pound House, Newent, Glos. 1999 Bronze Age copper mining in mid Wales – fact or fantasy?, The Journal of Historical Metallurgy 33 (1), 7-12 Bick, D.E. & Davies, P.W. Davies, J.L 1994 Lewis Morris and the Cardiganshire Mines, National Library of Wales, 89pp

1994 Erglodd fortlet, Llangynfelin IN: The Roman Period, Cardiganshire County History Volume 1: From the Earliest Times to the Coming of the Romans, J.L.Davies & D.P.Kirby (eds.), publ. by Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society in assoc. with RCAHM (Wales) and University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 306-307 1979 The Mines of Cardiganshire, British Mining No.12, Northern Mines Research Society monograph, Sheffield, 99pp 1746 ‘An account of the Lead and Silver Mines in the King’s Manor called Cwmmwd y Perveth’ IN Bick,D. & Davies, P.W 1994 2004 Ross Island – Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland, Bronze Age Studies 6, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway. 2004 Llangynfelin, Medieval timber trackway, Ceredigion, Note in Early Christian & Medieval, Archaeology in Wales 44, 165 2002 Ore prospection during the Early Bronze Age in Britain, IN Bartelheim, M, Pernicka, E. & Krause, R. (eds.)The Beginnings of Metallurgy in the Old World, Archaometrie Freiberger Forschungen zur Altertumswissenschaft 1, Freiberg, 327-357 2003a Excavations on Copa Hill, Cwmystwyth (1986-

Foster-Smith, J.R.

Morris, Lewis

O’Brien, W.

Page, N.

Timberlake, S.

24 1999) – an Early Bronze Age copper mine within the uplands of Central Wales, BAR British Series 348, Archaeopress, Oxford, 127 pp 2003b Early Mining Research in Britain: The Developments of the Last Ten Years, Mining and Metal Production Through the Ages, The British Museum Pres, eds. Craddock,P. & Lang, J., 21-42 2004 Pwll Roman Mine, Tre Taliesin, Note in Prehistory: Archaeology in Wales 44, 142-143 Timberlake,S, Mighall, T.,Singh, S., Gentry, J.P. & Saffrey, M. 2004 The impact of early metal mining: a palaeoenvironmental and palaeo-pollution study of peat bogs in Mid and North Wales, AW44, 112-113 Timberlake, S. & Prag, A.J.N.W. 2005 The archaeology of Alderley Edge – survey, excavation and experiment in an ancient mining landscape, BAR British Series 396, John & Erica Hedges, Oxford 309 pp

FIGURES: Fig. 1 Excavation of Trench B and hammer-stones at Twll y mwyn within Lewis Morris’ ‘Ancient British rake’ Fig. 2 Map of workings between Darren Camp and Cerrig yr wyn including Twll y mwyn mine Fig. 3 Erglodd (June 2005): Excavation trench on the edge of the early opencast, heavily concealed by woodland Fig.4. Map of Erglodd and environs of Cors Fochno showing Roman fort and lead smelting site Simon Timberlake Early Mines Research Group www.earlyminesresearchgroup.org.uk BRYNGWYN ENGINE HOUSE, BEDWAS, CAERPHILLY The restoration of the Engine House at Bryngwyn Colliery had been a passion of David Bick’s for many years. The land surrounding the Engine House had been developed as the Manor Park Estate, various promises had been made by the developers to preserve the remains, but despite David’s campaigning nothing had been done. David wrote an excellent article that was published in Archive Magazine (No 38, June 2003, Lightmoor Press), drawing attention to the unique nature of the Engine House. He also commissioned an artists impression of the Engine House to compliment the article.


In mid December, David phoned me to say that he had received a letter from CADW advising him that an application had been made by the developers Westbury Homes, for Scheduled Monument Consent to partially demolish the Engine House. In March 2001 Westbury Homes commissioned “Veryards Opus” to survey and report on the condition of the Engine House, a further survey was undertaken in November 2005. These reports gave two options for the “restoration” of the Engine House remains; first was to demolish the building down to a plinth, at a estimated cost of £80,750, the second option was to restore the building as it stood at an estimated cost of £119,500. A difference of £38,750 ! I wrote to CADW on behalf of the Trust expressing our concern, to quote from my letter:“The Trust is astounded that no safeguards for the Engine House were included in the planning consent granted for the development of the surrounding housing estate. However it is not too late, there is still an opportunity to save and preserve what remains. The Trust strongly requests that CADW refuse any form of consent that would result in even partial demolition. With reference to the report “Proposals for Bryngwyn Colliery, Permanent Works and General Conservation of the Former Cornish Engine House (Updated November 2005) ref CS6687, written by Veryards Opus Consulting Engineers”. The Trust notes that the cost of partial demolition is £80,750 compared with cost of Restoration being £119,500, the difference is £38,750. This cost is a small price to pay for the Restoration of such a Historically Important Building. Once it is partially demolished, there is no chance of it ever being restored and it is only a matter of time before the remains will be totally lost.


Bryngwyn Engine House (taken before housing development) Photo Mrs M Miles The Trust feels that this application for Scheduled Monument Consent to carry out partial demolition should be refused, for the following reasons:i) The Engine House is Historically Important; To quote David Bick (Archive Issue No 38); “The site includes an imposing ‘Inverted Cornish’ engine house, of a kind which was probably unique and is certainly so as a survivor”. The large amount of Industrial Archaeology, that remains to be discovered within and around the building, that could be damaged or lost if Consent for the partial demolition were to be granted; To quote David Bick again; “The physical remains are like a book as yet unopened, and only await the spade beneath debris, turf and scrub to reveal its testimony”. The Engine should be treated as a memorial to the miners who worked (and at least two who died) at the Colliery, it could be dedicated as a memorial to all those who worked and died in the collieries of Caerphilly.”



Two very successful campaigns were started, the first by Welsh Mines Society Chairman John “Mole” Hine, he spent days emailing everyone he could find in the Industrial Archaeology world advising them of the proposals, the second by Mr & Mrs Miles of Bedwas who wrote to local Councillors, MP’s and Assembly Members, advising them of the importance of preserving the Engine House, they also arranged a local petition which was signed by over 600 local people.
On the 24th March 2006 CADW issued the following interim decision:-


“The weight of local and national objection shows the widespread recognition of the great importance of this building as a symbol of the local coal-mining heritage and that it represents a rare survival of a specialised steam-powered drainage system. On the information available, therefore, the Assembly Government minded to refuse scheduled monument consent.”

On the 8th May 2006, the following was received from CADW:“A meeting was held at Cadw's offices on 03 May 2006 with representatives from Caerphilly County Borough Council, Veryards Opus Consulting Engineers and Charles Church (they have taken over from Westbury Homes) to review the way forward. The outcome of the meeting was very positive with Charles Church expressing a willingness to carry out the full conservation of the engine house (with grant from Cadw) if this is the preferred option of all parties. They intend to put this proposal to Caerphilly CBC soon, to establish whether the Council are willing to formally accept ownership of the site on this basis.” Subject to Caerphilly CBC accepting ownership of the site, the Engine House should now have a secure future. WHAT THE GERMANS DID FOR US! – PETER CLAUGHTON In the last newsletter Simon Hughes wrote about 'Some relics of migration into Cardiganshire' with the sub-title 'What the Germans did for us' (Hughes, WMPT newsletter, December 2005, 7-20). However, whilst agreeing that certain central European surnames do appear in Cardiganshire and elsewhere after the mid 16th century, I feel we should carefully question whether the 'Germans' gave us much that we didn't already know and practice in mining in England and Wales. The historical record informs us that if they, the 'Germans' / central Europeans, were good at anything it was extracting copper metal from its ores, and that is the mining sector with which they are closely connected in England - the Cumbrian mines of the late 16th / early 17th centuries. There is good documentary evidence to support their involvement at that period - perhaps too much documentation which tends to colour our view of their impact (for example, Donald 1955). But, if they were such good miners and metallurgists, why did it take until the 1690s for English copper production to 'take off'. We have, after all, significant deposits of both high and low grade copper ores which allowed Britain to be a market leader into the early 19th century. First we must realise that the 1550s wasn't the first time 'German' miners were involved in English or Welsh mining. Daniel Hochstetter's father, Joachim, was here twenty five years earlier at the behest of the Crown with a view to expanding silver/lead production (for an outline of Hochstetter's activity see Claughton 2004, 910). He was to erect a furnace at Combe Martin, in north Devon; however, if he did, it was clearly a failure and he quickly disappears from the scene. The bellows-blown shaft furnace commonly used on the continent at that period (the 'almain' furnace

28 operating in a reducing atmosphere and requiring prior roasting of the ores) was nothing new - English silver mining had been using the same technique in the 15th century. When it was introduced to Derbyshire in the mid 16th century, it was again a failure (Kiernan 1989). Home grown 'ore hearth' smelting technology was found to be far superior in Derbyshire and at Combe Martin. Returning to copper; there are records of 'German' miners in England from at least the mid 13th century. They were active at a copper prospect in north-east Wales and two groups of central European miners were involved in unsuccessful attempts to work copper/silver/gold deposits in Devon in the 1260s. When the English Crown opened up silver/lead mines in Devon in the 1290s there are no 'German' names amongst those employed, and the mines were worked successfully to considerable depth unto the 15th century, except in the early 14th century on the occasion of the requirement to re-treat residues from earlier smelting of copper ores when a 'German' was employed (TNA: PRO E101/261/21). It is also worth noting that a form of liquation was also used in the Devon mines in the mid 1290s. This was the process which formed the key element in the central European 'saigerprocess' for extracting silver from copper ores, developed in the 15th century, in use in England perhaps two hundred years earlier - and not one 'German' in sight. We have 'German ' miners and metallurgists working in England and Wales well before the 16th century, primarily involved in working copper ores; so why didn't copper mining take off much earlier? The short answer is that copper was of limited economic value in this country at that period. Even the central Europeans had a problem operating the saigerprocess once it was developed if demand was low and the prices of both silver and copper were not high enough. Once enticed into the northwest of England in the second half of the 16th century, and engaged in copper mining, they found it difficult to sell the metal; resorting to the manufacture of copperware to add value to their product. As Hammersley (1973) has shown that the mining of copper in Cumbria was an economic failure and its survival into the 17th century was largely supported by the extraction of small amounts of silver from the ores. When the rise of the English / Welsh copper industry came, in the last decade of the 17th century, it was home grown - using, not inappropriate continental technology, but the new coal-fired reverberatory furnaces. Although the Germans appear to have used some coal in the processes at their Keswick smelter, it was already being used in significant quantities as fuel in the (ore hearth) lead smelter at Combe Martin at, or shortly after, that period (see poster presentation to the Metallurgy conference, British Museum, April 2005 - http://www.people.exeter.ac.uk/pfclaugh/mhinf/lead_si.pdf). Wherever you look in the mining industry of this country, well before the 'industrial' period, you find advanced techniques in use where they are appropriate. Mechanised drainage using water-powered suction lift pumps, which were an Italian development, appear in the English silver mines at about the same time that they appear in central Europe (Claughton 1996). The arrangement would not be dissimilar to that found in the Zellerfeld illustration of 1680 (Hughes, 13) or that illustrated by Pryce in Mineralogia Cornubiensis (1778). Adit drainage was employed in the mines here from the late 13th century but neither they nor mechanised pumping were used in the non-argentiferous mines of the Pennines until centuries later as they were quite inappropriate for a mining sector which could move on to exploit new shallow resources and still satisfy the demand for newly mined metal.


So the English and Welsh miner was as advanced as his continental counterpart when he needed to be - and it's worth pointing out that it was the 'low-tech' Derbyshire miners, with their strong links to dual-occupation in agriculture, which were capable of reacting to the increased demand for lead from the continental saigerprocess after the supply of the cheap ex-ecclesiastical product (robbed from monastery roofs) dried up in the second part of the 16th century; the continental lead producers were left standing. As to the idea that "we simply did not have the technology to get any deeper than the Old Man" (Hughes, 8) - just consider how deep the 'Old Man' could get! It was not until the advent of steam powered pumping that modern miners got below the medieval and early modern workings at Bere Ferrers and Combe Martin respectively. Adit drainage techniques, used as early as the mid to late Iron Age in central France, combined with pumps allowed the English miner to achieve considerable depths without the advantage of a deeply incised mountain terrain. When we consider the availability of silver in England and Wales in the 16th century (Hughes, 8) we have to take into account more than domestic sources of newly mined silver. English coin was maintained at the highest standard in Europe throughout the late medieval / early modern periods - yet we had not been self sufficient in silver since the latter part of the 12th century (Claughton, 2003). When England resumed significant silver production in the 1290s the output was only sufficient to cover the wear and tear on the coin in circulation. England's wealth in silver was due to a high and sustained export trade. Spain's policy in Europe was a greater threat than her increased wealth in silver and gold which, in the long term, gave her little advantage. Both English, Welsh, and the continental producers were still capable of continued production of precious metals (Blanchard 1989, particularly Chapter Two, 'The European producers' response'). When some mining historians attribute advances in technique to the 'Germans' it should be treated with caution. Only in the treatment of copper ores did they appear to have any advantage but, then, the English and the Welsh had little use for that metal. Even the terminology had little impact - an adit (advidod in the 13th century) remained an adit. We should be cautious of attributing 'German' origins to words which have a common root in English. Take, for example, Ison Hill in west Somerset - the site of ancient (possibly medieval probably much earlier) iron mining - which in recent years was corrupted to 'Eisen' and the workings attributed to the 'Germans'. Both words mean 'iron' and come from a common root but the former was in use long before the 'Germans' arrived in the 16th century (see http://www.people.exeter.ac.uk/pfclaugh/mhinf/isonhill.htm). So, to my mind, if the sub-title above was to be expressed as a question, the answer would be that the 'Germans' did very little for mining in England and Wales in the 16th and following centuries. Source references Blanchard, I. 1989 Russia's Age of Silver, (London: Routledge) Claughton, P. 1996 'The Lumburn Leat - evidence for new pumping technology at Bere Ferrers in the 15th century', Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS, 13, 2, 35-40.


Claughton, P. 2003 'Production and economic impact: Northern Pennine (English) silver in the 12th century', Proceedings of the 6th International Mining History Congress, (Akabira, Japan) - available as a Word document at http://www.people.exeter.ac.uk/pfclaugh/mhinf/claugh.doc Claughton, P. F. 2004 The Combe Martin Mines, (Combe Martin: Combe Martin Local History Group, updated edition) Donald, M. B. 1955 Elizabethan Copper: The History of the Company of Mines Royal 1568 - 1605, (London). Hammersley, G. 1973 ‘Technique or Economy; the rise and decline of the early English copper industry’, Business History, 15, 1-31 Kiernan, D. 1989 The Derbyshire Lead Industry in the Sixteenth Century, (Chesterfield). The National Archives (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), Exchequer Accounts (E101) Peter Claughton KOBALS & KNOCKERS – SIMON HUGHES In my last offering, I considered the influences that the German miners had brought with them to Cardiganshire and briefly touched upon the spirits of the mine. The Kobal, or Kobold, and our indigenous Knocker appear to be of the same species. On this matter, the Letters of the Morrises of Anglesey and William Hooson’s Dictionary were consulted with some success but the going then became tough, as there are very few other references, or accounts, of subterranean spirits in mid Wales. The origin of the word Kobal or Cobel is attributed to the Greeks by Herbert Hoover, an excellent engineer, but modern etymologists now doubt this. Hoover’s attribution of the origin is now widely quoted throughout the 20th century. The belief in these spirits is so widespread that it is almost certainly a relic of the pagan gods that ruled people’s lives before Christianity spread across northern Europe.

Agricola, in his lesser work “Bergmanus“
describes Kobals as being gnomes or goblins, about two foot high, mischievous little mimics who were attired in the traditional leather Saxon miner’s garb and were quite inoffensive provided that they were not abused or spoken of badly. They were predominantly a male variety, known as “ guteli ” whilst a much rarer variety were called “ trulli “, these were said to be of both sexes. There are no contemporary accounts of any other differences between these two types, only that the one occurred as both sexes.


The topic is further considered by Agricola in his “ De Anemantibus “ where the
trulli are also said to be of both sexes and it is evident that the Trulli have, over the ages, become our Trolls. Here, we are told that they sometimes enter the service of men. The “ Guteli “ were of a more benign nature and whilst they pretended to do much, they really did nothing. They appear to have become Goblins in our present culture. These gnomes, traditionally green jacketed, are found especially in old or abandoned workings, and in those areas where a new discovery was imminent. They also stand accused of throwing pebbles at the miners to irritate them.

Ores of the hard grey strategic metal, Cobalt, had been in use as a pigment, known as
smalt,or zaffir, long before it was first isolated about the year 1735 by G. Brandt of Stockholm. Its name is derived from the German for the spirits of the mine, the Kobals or Cobolds.

The physical damage done to the miners and smelters by constant exposure to Cobalt,
Nickel, Arsenic, Lead and Uranium dust and fumes in Medieval times was blamed upon the malevolent spirits. The element Nickel, according to some sources takes its name from “ Old Nick “ but in German, nickel simply means rogue or stout little fellow. Arsenic is said to have similar origins and incorporates “ Nick “ thus demonstrating it to be the work of the devil.

One variety of ore was colloquially known as “
The Black Devil “ on account of it rotting the flesh and bones of those who handled it. Someone, or something, had to be held to account for such an affliction and the “ Swarzteufel “ was conjured to fit the crime. Half a millennium later, under post-war communism, the Joachimsthal, now Jakimov, silver mine, once plagued by “ The Black Devil “, was reopened as a source of uranium and radium to fuel the cold war, the lives of the miners was cut notably short by regular overexposure to high levels of radio-activity and Radon gas.

Elsewhere, Agricola describes another example,
“ In some of our mines, though in very few, there are other pernicious pests. These are demons of ferocious aspect…. Demons of this kind are expelled by prayer and fasting “. See Agricola 112 +fn, 214 +fn, and 217 +fn, for contemporary beliefs therein.

According to the “ Oxford English Dictionary “, the word Kobold first appears in
the English language in 1635 in Heywood’s “ Hierarch “ and cites that there are spirits – “ About the place that they dig oare. The Greeks and Germans call them Cobali. “ Also cited is Lowell’s, “ Among my books “ (1870) who writes that “ There in the corner is the little black kobold of a doubt making mouths at him “


There is only a single reference in the OED to the knockers, in a mining context, that comes from William Hooson, of Flintshire, in his “Miners Dictionary “ of 1747, that is worth quoting verbatim. “ Knockers: I cannot affirm or deny anything about them, as having had no experience thereof at all, but that there are some kind of living creatures of the earth…Miners say that the Knockers are some being that inhabits in the concaves and hollows of the earth; and that it is kind to some men of suitable tempers, and directs them to the ore…I have formerly heard old people say that those creatures they call Fairies were much more frequent than now a days, but are supposed to be frightened or driven away by the noise of the miners blasting underground, to places more remote. “

Within my lifetime, guns were fired at weddings to drive away demons and evil
spirits. I believe that this was once a widespread practice in Cardiganshire, but distressed tourists who thought that they had stumbled across an enforced marriage ! This practice appears to have largely ceased in the 1970s.

These mischievous little folk, the “Knockers“, are briefly mentioned in a letter by Lewis Morris to his brother in 1754:“Our miners are a mixture of all nations and languages, like Babel, our Knockers have a language which we don’t yet understand, but as we understand dumb men by motions, though we hope to come to it by and by. We only know that they are our very good friends, and have actually discovered hidden treasures.”

Their presence is recorded at Esgair Mwyn, Llwyngwyddil and other places in the
18th century and was usually held as a sure sign of rich ore. I suspect that more is credited to Lewis Morris than is actually the case and I have searched vigilantly through the many volumes of multilingual letters between the Morris Brothers with very little success.

W.J. Lewis in “Lead Mining in Wales “ quotes from Hooson’s account but fails to note any other sources. Thomas Keightley in his “ Fairy Mythology “ (London 1850) tells us that that Wichtlein is a specific name for a spirit that makes its home, and territory, in metal mines. First cousins of the dwarves, they are about three feet high and have the appearance of old men with long beards. They haunt the mines and are dressed like miners with a white hood to their shirts and leather aprons, and are provided with lanterns, mallets and hammers. As they usually show themselves where there is an abundance of ore the miners are very glad to see them, but in spite of their banging and bustling, they do no actual work; they flit about in the pit and shafts and appear to work very hard, though in reality they do nothing. It amuses them to shower the miner with small stones and rocks but they do them no injury, except when they are abused or cursed by them. They expect daily presents of food and an annual gift of a small red coat.


In analysing these comments, Gillian Edwards in “ Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck “ (Bles, London 1974) quotes Sir Robert Hunt’s observations on Cornwall, and associates Knockers with Buccas and recites the old myth regarding these spirits “They were the ghosts of the old Jews who crucified our Lord, and were brought to Cornwall by the Romans to work in the mines “ Sir Robert Hunt, one of the greatest authorities on mines & mining, mentions both the Knocker and Bucca in the Cornish mines during the 19th century, in “ Popular

Romances of the West of England: Drolls, Traditions & Superstitions of Old Cornwall “ first printed in 1881 and reprinted as a facsimile by the Llanerch
Press in 1993. Hunt mentions his association with the mines since the 1830s and condenses these tales into a 14 page chapter entitled “ Romances of the Miners “, introduced with the following traditional song – “ An ancient story I’ll tell to you anon, Which is older by far than the days of King John; But this you should know, that red robed sinner Robbed the Jew of the gold he’d made as a tinner. “ Hunt speculates that the Jews, Phoenicians and Saracens who are reputed to have been involved with the Cornish Mines, are in fact the same people but this is of no relevance to Cardiganshire. In 1854, one of the miners at Esgair Hir gave George Borrow a vivid account of his experiences with the Knockers who occasionally tormented him ( p394 et seq ). Do you like the life of a miner ? said I. ( Borrow ) Very much said he ( the miner ) and should like it more if it were not for the noises of the hill. Do you mean the powder blasts said I Oh no he said; I care nothing for them, I mean the noises made by the spirits of the hill in the mine. Sometimes they make such noises as to frighten the poor fellow who works underground out of his senses. Once on a time I was working by myself very deep underground, in a little chamber to which a very deep shaft led. I had just taken up my light to survey my work, when all of a sudden I heard a dreadful rushing noise, as if an immense quantity of earth had come tumbling down Oh God said I and fell backwards, letting the light fall, which immediately went out. I thought that the whole shaft had given way, and that I was buried alive. At length I thought that I would get up, go to the mouth of the shaft, feel the mould, with which it was choked up, and then come back, lie down and die. So I got up and tottered to the mouth of the shaft, put out my hand and felt – nothing. All was clear. I went forward and presently felt the ladder. Nothing had fallen; all was just the same as when I came down. I was dreadfully afraid that I should never be able to get up in the dark without breaking my neck; however, I tried, and at last, with a great deal of toil and danger got to a place where some other men were working. The noise was caused by the spirits of the hill in the hope of driving the miner out of his senses I shall never

34 forget how I felt when I thought I was buried alive. If it were not for the noises in the hill the life of a miner would be quite heaven below.

Knockers were further recorded in the Cardiganshire Mines in 1885, in Chambers
Journal, and were presumed to be giving direction to the miners. This report, like the majority of others, is likely to be based on hearsay rather than a personal encounter by the correspondent.

In 1886 F.A. Pouchet, a French doctor with good credentials, considers the spirits of the mine on page 488 and 489 of his tome on “The Universe“. His principal authority is Agricola’s “Bergmanus“ but he also cites Schlieden’s “La Plante“ but is then rather scornful, particularly of Agricola, for believing in fairies. He blames the fertile imagination of poorly educated people living in isolated areas for believing in such things. In this conclusion, he is largely correct, but to doubt the words of Agricola is a path normally fraught with danger. Pouchet also refers to a connection with the Cabala, an ancient book of the Jewish faith, that refers to the legions of spirits that roamed within the earth. The Cabalism that is followed today is a revived branch incorporating many aspects of other faiths. Several modern books were examined on their beliefs, but no specific references could be found to spirits that dwelt within the earth and their interaction with the miners engaged within their domain.

Kobals unearthing an Icthyosauras

This author also mentions that, at the moment of ignition, firedamp takes on the appearance of a ghostly horse with a fiery mane rushing through the workings. This phoenomenon also appears in a German book of traditional mining tales, but my command of that language is insufficient to translate the text.. Theodore Watts – Dunton, in his novel entitled “Aylwin “ (iii), published in 1898 states that he has not only heard these Knockers, but had actually seen one which he described as a thick – set dwarf like figure. Knockers are also considered by E. Cobham Brewer in his Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (1898) and are simply described as goblins who dwelt in mines The fruits of many years of research prior to 1911 are appraised by Jonathan Caredig Davies in his “ Folk-Lore of West and Mid Wales “. Whilst it makes fascinating reading, the Knockers are totally unknown to him or his informants. Several goblins, in different parishes, are considered but Davies does not inform us about subterranean varieties, or any association with the mines. However, the faries of Cwm Mabws, near

35 Llanrhystud, dwelt in the caves below Craig Rhydderch and were reputed to be more trogloditic than their bretheren elsewhere. Davies notes that “ about fifty years ago, faries were still to be seen in this neighbourhood “. We are also told, in this volume, that apart from Tylwyth Teg, the fairies were sometimes known as “ Bendith y Mamau “ ( Mother’s Blessing) and mention is made of the Ellyll ( Elves ). References have been found to Klobuks that appear to be the Prussian and Polish spirts that inhabit work places rather than houses. Apart from mines, they also appear in mills. Encyclopaedia Mythica, available online, tells us that there is a Spanish version called “ El Trasgu “ and that he is substancially different, having horns, phallus and barbed tail, sometimes with a red pointed hat. Otherwise they share the attributes of the Polish Klobuk. From Potosi in Bolivia, I have an illustration of a large clay Trasgu, that had apparently been placed at one level in the Rosario Bajo mine as a shrine. This fellow must have been introduced into Bolivia by the conquistadores and become incorporated into the local culture. I never came across any such shrines or beliefs whilst in Nicaragua in the early 1980s, but that is no indication that they do not occur.

Benjamin White, in his wonderful “History of Silver“ (1920),
p 145-6, expands a little further on Hoover’s descriptions in De Re Metallica and White appears to have entered into correspondence with Hoover upon this point. To recite the text would merely duplicate part of what has already been recited.

Larousse’s “Encyclopaedia of Mythology“, updated to 1984, devotes a whole
chapter to Teutonic Mythology and on page 279 considers Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and others creatures of the underworld. Some of the description appears to be derived from Hoover but other European sources have been consulted and we are reminded that the dwarf king of the Nibelung’s treasure was won by, and eventually caused the death of, Siegfried according to the German epic poem, later set to music by Richard Wagner. Unsurprisingly, there is a remarkably similar Norse tale involving Andvari the dwarf and Loki who tricked him out of his treasure only to die at the hand of Fafnir the giant. Andvari had cursed the treasure and subsequent possession of it shortened many lives. These dwarves were skilled at the forge with both iron and gold and it was they who had forged Odin’s magical spear “ Gungnir “ and Thor’s warhammer. The Larousse volume also confirms that Teutonic dwarves sometimes installed themselves in houses, cellars, barns and stables where they were called “ kobolds “. As with the mine kobals, they would perform chores and, generally, he bought good luck to the house that he sheltered in. For these services, they demanded very little, a little milk, or beer, and scraps from the table appeared sufficient. If chastised or cursed, they would become vindictive and create a dreadful nuisance. The authors were also of the opinion that the “ trulli “ were of both sexes, whilst the “guteli ” were all male.


The Brothers Grimm apparently have a little to add on the matter of Kobals.
However, the works of the Brothers are exceedingly voluminous and I have found no detailed index yet. “Hildebrand “ has a kobal or troll connections and “The Hall of the mountain King“ concerns a pact made with a dwarf in exchange for 12 years of plenty. This is not a dissimilar tale to that of Dr Faustus, consolidated and popularised by Goethe and orchestrated by both Gounod and Berlioz. Having fallen upon hard times, the good doctor makes a contract with Mephistopheles, an agent of the Devil, and enjoys a rich harvest for 24 years. The story of Faust, of which there are many versions, is partly set around the medieval mining town of Goslar and upon the Brokken Mountain, above Rammelsburg, an area of the Harz that is steeped in mining folklore. This story is undoubtedly very old and widespread, according to some literature, the story of Faust is simply a re-telling of “The Book of Enoch “, part of the Apocrypha containing a rather dubious version of the biblical flood. The prophet Enoch, seventh from Adam and father of Methuselah, is held in high esteem amongst some, and I am told that, in rank, he is second only to Hiram amongst Freemasons. Hiram, King of Tyre, and contemporary of Solomon, is mentioned in the footnotes of Hoover’s translation of Agricola and said to be “ skilled in mines “. ( p.214 )

In Cardiganshire, apart from the “Knockers“, there are the traditional spirits of the
woods and streams, the “ tylwyth teg “ who are kindly little fairies and the less common “ ellyll or elves, as opposed to the “bwgan “ the goblin who terrifies children, goes bump in the night and stops your hens from laying. None of these appears to have ever been associated with mines or mining, just the “Knockers“. The “bwgan“ seems to be a Welsh goblin or troll, probably the Bucca of Cornwall and Brownie of Scotland; in Europe he would have ventured underground, but apparently not in Cardiganshire. Modern Welsh dictionaries also cite “coblyn“ as a malevolent sprite, but this appears to be nothing more than a borrowing from the English. However, according to one dictionary coblyn is supposedly derived from the Latin, as does kobald. During this current research, no references were found whatsoever regarding the underground spirits of the Mendip Hills in Somerset and yet their miners would have been drawn from far and wide and brought their beliefs with them. The Phooga of Ireland is held by some to equate with the Kobal, and therefore to the Knocker, but, having read accounts I disagree and could find no references to Kobals, Knockers or other specifically subterranean goblins occurring in Ireland.

The archaic belief in these little beings certainly persisted well into the 20th century in
Cornwall, Wales, and undoubtedly elsewhere, and offerings of bread or pastry were often left in the manhole or cabin “for the little people“. Bryan Earl, in his “ Cornish Mining” (D.Bradford Barton 1968) mentions that amongst the Cornish Miners there was still a belief in these fairy folk. In Talybont, during the 1960s, many of the “Old Boys“ who had worked as miners in their youth, before the Great War, used to ask me if I had heard the “knockers“, whilst as recently as 1980, my elderly rock-man at Aberllefeni always left a corner of his sandwich to ensure our welfare and when a pebble brushed by for no apparent reason the only possible explanation was that it must have been thrown by one of the “little people“. Also in the early 1980s, I understand that some Wheal Jane and Mount Wellington miners still believed in the

37 Knockers and I have also heard similar contemporary reports from Cyprus and Spain. Most of the accounts consulted were unanimous in their descriptions that Kobals also became troublesome, and were seriously irritated by whistling but there are no reports regarding the fate of underground whistlers and their relationship with the Knockers in Cardiganshire.

Darren and Nant y Creiau are both mines that still make an inordinately high number of people quite uncomfortable, as does XC1S on the Western Drift in the shallow adit at Bwlchglas where William Edward was killed by a hang-fire in 1893. I am unable to account for this. I was not at all surprised that kobals, cobolds or kobolds have now entered the realms of Hi-Tech video games in the Dungeons and Dragons style. The graphics designers have their own opinions that bear little resemblance to contemporary accounts. Far more has been written about this phenomenon since the mines closed and my general impression of the material which was available on the web was a little like the Medieval description of an elephant. No-one had actually seen one but they were reputed to exist, the accompanying drawings are nothing short of fantastic. In conclusion, following on from Voltaire’s logic, if Kobals and Knockers did not exist, it would be necessary for man to invent them. So when you are waiting for your partner, and you hear voices in another part of the mine as a pebble brushes past, you know who it is….
The Germans in Cardiganshire It should in no way be inferred that my contribution on " The Germans in Cardiganshire " is a totally encompassing history of these people in the UK. It was simply intended as a precis, a collation of many authorities, on their involvement in the mines of mid Wales as I felt it inappropriate to consider wider elements or to stray too far from the Welsh connections. Simon Hughes 20th April 2006


MINE CHAPLAINS – IVOR BROWN Re your comment on p15 of Simon Hughes’ article on the German’s, concerning chaplains. All larger NCB mines in England and Scotland had official chaplains at least until 1983.

38 In the 1950’s at least, the pit chaplain would talk to all new entrants on his job and how he could help, would go underground usually annually to see the men at work, would run an Annual Miners Service at his church and ensure that there was a lump of coal and lighted lamp on the table at their Annual Harvest Festival. Behind the scenes I am sure he would be visiting the needy. Most chaplains were from the Established Churches in England Anglican, but the miners often made up for this by appointing a Methodist local preacher as their own paid Lodge Secretary and Checkweighman. I would like to hear of any other practices outside my own experience in Shropshire and Doncaster areas (there was until recently at least, a full time Methodist Mission to Miners in Doncaster). On Simon’s interesting article there are other words that must have come from the Germans - in Shropshire 17th/18th Century legal doccuments mention “MasterGruters” in charge of mines, tutworkers and “doggies” (hunds) among others. Ivor Brown, 95 Mantgates Lane, Sandal, Wakefield, West Yorks, WF2 7DL WATER POWER IN MINING (Proceedings of the NAMHO Conference 2002 Aberystwyth). John “Mole” Hine, has some copies of this excellent publication. Available from John Hine, The Grottage, 2 Cullis Lane, Mile End Coleford, Glos, price £12 plus £1.48 p&p. OLD METAL MINES OF MID WALES John Hine has found a source of a few copies of various parts of David Bick’s Old Metal Mines of Mid Wales. These are avaiable by post from John, “The Grottage” , 2 Cullis Lane, Mile End, Coleford, Glos, GL16 7QF. Enquiries by phone to 01594833217 (please do not withhold number, or your call will not be answered), first come first served. CEREDIGION MINES MEETING – 25 MARCH 2006 For a while now I have been trying to establish a means of communication between all the various official bodies, groups and individuals involved in Mining Heritage in Ceredigion. This resulted in a meeting at Plas Antaron, Aberystwyth on the 25th March, with representatives from CADW, Cambria Archaeology, Royal Commission for Ancient Monuments, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Ceredigion County Council, National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Ceredigion Archives, Llywernog Mining Museum, Trefeurig Community Council, Local RIGS Group, Ceredigion Bat Group, Pentir Pumlumon, NAMHO, Welsh Mines Society, Early Mines Research Group, Welsh Mines Preservation Trust and several local interested parties being present. Unfortunately no one from CCW was able to attend but they were supportive of the formation of a means of communication. The meeting was sponsored by Ceredigion County Council’s “Spirit of the Miners” project, who paid for the venue and an excellent buffet. I am very grateful to Meleri Richards and Peter Austin for arranging this sponsorship and their assistance with the organisation of this meeting. The meeting was a great opportunity for people to meet each other and put faces to people who had only been names on letters etc. The representatives in attendance

39 gave a presentation on their organisations role, responsibilities and objectives. I am sure everyone left the meeting with a much greater understanding of the other organisations in the Mining Heritage field. Whilst there was a reluctance to form a Ceredigion Mines Group at this stage, it was agreed that an email contact group would be set up, where those who attended can keep in contact and circulate items affecting Mining Heritage in the County; thanks to Ceredigion County Council for setting up and hosting this. It was also agreed that we would all meet again next year. I must thank Peter Austin for taking on the role of chairman of the meeting and keeping us all in check. CLEARING OF DUMPED RUBBISH AT MINE SITES IN CEREDIGION One very positive outcome of the meeting at Plas Antaron, I had the opportunity to speak to the Contaminated Lands Officer from Ceredigion County Council, on the subject of dumped rubbish at mine sites. She was very keen on finding a way to clear up this refuse. I explained that the Trust would be more than willing to assist with clearing this refuse at some sites, if a way could be found for the council to provide skips and obtain permission from the various bodies, landowners etc,. the Trust would provide volunteer labour to clear the refuse. This offer was gratefully received. I have provided a list of sites in Ceredigion that are badly affected by dumping, these have now been visited and photographed by the Contaminated Lands Officer. Measures such as CCTV surveillance are being considered to catch and prosecute those responsible. Hopefully soon a site will be selected for a trial “clean up”. WORKING WEEKENDS LATER THIS YEAR CATHERINE & JANE CONSOLS The next working weekend will be Sat 7th & Sun 8th October. Please contact me for further details. CWMSYMLOG I will be arranging another working weekend at Cwmsymlog in October. Please contact me for details. My thanks to Terry Evans, Simon Timberlake, Steve Oliver, Peter Claughton, Simon Hughes, Ivor Brown and Barry Clarke for their contributions. I hope you all have an enjoyable summer. Best Wishes Graham All articles and photographs by the editor unless stated.

40 STOP PRESS I have just received the following request for help from Tom McOwat at Ceredeigion County Council. Can anyone help? An Anabat bat detector and ZCAIM dedicated recording unit disappeared from the entrance area of Level Fawr (Cwmystwyth) between 29th April and 22nd May. I suspect it has been investigated as a curiosity rather than anything else but it is a specialised piece of equipment and not much use for else. It was part of a bat monitoring investigation being made by CCW and it is their kit. If anyone hears of it or knows what has happened to it or can even facilitate its return I would be pleased to hear from them. It was powered by an external 12volt rechargeable battery and recorded data on to a Compact Flash card. Those parts of the package someone may find a use for and they are the expendable elements. The detector and recording unit are the real loss! A picture of an Anabat is shown opposite. They are made in Australia and it will not be easy to replace

If anyone sees this equipment at Cwmystwyth please contact Tom at the address below. Also if this equipment or something similar is seen at another mine site its purpose will be known. [Ed] Tom McOwat ALO and Graphics Ceredigion County Council, Aberaeron. 01545-572 112 tommo@ceredigion.gov.uk

41 2006 AGM – Sun 12 November 2006 The 2006 AGM will be held on 12th November at the home of Nigel Chapman. Members are most welcome to attend, if you are planning to attend please advise the Secretary, so we have an idea of the numbers attending.

Agenda for 14th AGM to be held on 1200 noon Sunday 12th November 2006 at 14 Dorset Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12)

Chairman’s opening remarks. Apologies for absence. Minutes of 13th AGM held on 30th October 2005 at 14 Dorset Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Matters Arising from Minutes. Secretary’s Financial Report and presentation of Accounts. Nomination and Election of Director’s due to retire by rotation: T. Evans, G. Levins. Insurance. Membership Subscriptions 2007. Appointment of Auditor. Dates of Director’s Meetings 2007. Activities for next year. AOB.

Secretary: Graham Levins 1 Stonecrop Close, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9EP. 01293-510567, Mobile: 07880-817370, email: WMPTsecretary@welshmines.org Membership Secretary: Nigel Chapman 14 Dorset Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B17 8EN. 0121-429-3930 email: guibal40@hotmail.com