Research and news articles by members of PUG.
The geology, mineralisation and ecology of Parys mountain by David Jenkins
The mineralisation at Mynydd Parys extends roughly 3 km NNE-SSW in a band 1km wide. It is associated with and ancient volcanic event involving the extrusion of lavas and ejection of ashes.
These deposits grade laterally into shallow water volcanic sediments, which include siliceous sinters and cherts and also hot intrusive rhyolites and later dolerites.
This volcanic sequence overlies the Parys shales and is in turn overlain by later Silurian shales. These beds appear to have been compressed into a steep trough shaped structure trending NE-SW and tilted over to the SE. The axis being exposed at the ends of the Great open cast
The region is also traversed by steep NNW-SSE cross faults and to the north, there are older Precambrian schist of the Mona complex, brought up by the Carmel Head and Corwas thrust faults.
The primary mineralisation composed pyrite, which can be seen in slump structures in the exposures at the centre part of the Great open cast, indicating formation on the sea floor. This was followed by a phase dominated by chalcopyrite and then by one dominated by the intimate mixture of spalerire and galena.
These are believed to have formed from exhalations on the sea floor analogous to the “black smokers” observed today. The ore deposit is thus thought to be of the “Kuroko” and as such is unique in Britain.
A secondary phase of remoilisation occurred during the later Caledonian metamorphism and has been dated to be 360 my BP. As a result of this unique geology several sits of special scientific interest ( SSSI) have been established on the mountain.
Weathering products are dominated by colourful red / yellow ferrous oxides but also include a range of sulphate materials.
Amongst these are abundant jarosite, anglesite,pisanite,antlerite and basaluminite, minerals, which are rare elsewhere in Britain.
The present weathering is intense due to the very high acidity generated by the oxidation of pyrite and other sulphide minerals. This extreme chemistry has resulted in a remarkable flora and fauna.
Eight sites have been established as SSSIs on the basis of their unusual lichen communities and there are also rare liverworts.
Danger radio activity by Garth Jones
Do you have a warm glowing feeling inside you after you have been down the mine?
This is could be due to the exercise or the Pilot Boat’s beer and sandwiches afterwards!
However have you ever considered it could be due to radiation?
Radon is an inert radioactive gas, which can be formed by the decay of uranium. It is an element, which is usually present in minute amounts in limestone and other rocks.
Being a gas it can seep from the rocks into the air. Normally air currents disperse radon to relatively low concentrations but , in confined spaces such as cave or mines, the concentration can build up.
Radon and it’s decay products, which themselves are radioactive ,present in the air are breathed into the lungs where radioactive decay may occur, thus causing the person to receive an internal dose of radiation.
The National Radiation Protection Board is responsible for defining “safe” levels of radiation exposure for the general public.
Where the concentration of Radon in mines is less than 220 units (Be m-3) no special precautions are required.
In the last few months the level of Radon in two areas of Parys mine have been assessed.
One detector was placed at the 25-fathom level close to the roof fall. This showed a level of 110 units. A second detector placed in the pisanite chamber showed 170 units.
These are well below the limit at which precautions need to be taken.
The NRPB together with the National Caving Association have recommended an annual exposure limit of 1 million unit hours for those who enter underground systems as part of their leisure activities.
At the highest level measured in Parys mine above this would suggest that each of us should spend no more than 8 months underground every year!!
Anglesey copper mines by Neil Summers
We all know about the Parys and Mona mines. However, there were a number of other copper mines in the Amlwch area. Some of these appear to be genuine attempts to mine for copper. Others seem to be much more speculative. Trying to profit on the name of the great mines at Parys mountain with exaggerated claims for the potential of the other undertakings.
In a document on Parchment, held in the Nanhoron manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, dated 15 September 1756 a lease for 21 years was granted to John Champion of Holywell Flint by Francis Lloyd to mine for copper, tin, calamine and zinc on the land of Gader at Carmel Head.
An attempt was made to mine Copper at Pant Y Gaseg just West of Bull bay in 1859 by means of an adit driven in from the cliff foot for a total of 662 feet but was abandoned.
The first trail was at a point 400 feet in but is chocked after 50 feet. A further 80 feet in a second trail was dug for about 65 feet. This one contains various minerals. The main level continues for another 85 feet before coming to a dead end.
Around 1872 a second attempt was made with a small shaft being sunk on the ridge.
The inauguration of this shaft and of the Pant y gaseg Copper mine took place on 16th March 1872 at the Dinorben Hotel in Amlwch. A Mr Gibson from London took out a 21 year lease on the area from Mr Pritchard of Trescawen.
Other notable local contributors were ,Mr J W.Paynter The high Sheriff, Mr T.Fauning Evans JP, and Mona Mine chief, Mr B Roose Solicitor, Capt Dyer late of Parys mine, Mr W C Painter Ship owner, R T Philips of Anglesey Central Railway, Captain T.Michell, Parys Mine and Captain W. Hughes Mona Mine and Mr J M Williams, Mona Mine Assayer.
At another meeting on April 20 Mr Gibson addressed the miners. He praised their hard work in the mine and made “. some very trite and happy remarks. He urged them all to learn and cultivate a knowledge of the English language…”
By Aug that year they had cleared out the water and timbered down the shaft. They had sunk 20 feet and also driven on the Shillitoe’s lode. They had cleared and made good for the safety of the miners and driven on the course of the lode a total of 28 fathoms including a number of cross cuts and sinking a winze about 9ft. They discovered a level “formally worked by the Romans where some native hammer stones were found.” This level was driven for 3 fathoms. On the surface smiths and carpenters shops were built.
In September 1872 it was reported in the Mining journal. ” In our recent tour through Anglesey we paid a visit to the Great Mona mine. Afterwards we paid a similar complement to the new mine, Pant y gaseg and were much pleased with the appearance of the property.
We visited the old Roman level and wondered, centuries ago, how the workmen mined in those days ,with the rude tools they used. The copper is of the same description as Mona mine. We also saw some of the beautiful umber and ochre taken out in our presence. We were amazed at the Kaolinite. It is our impression that this will be a great mine very shortly. From all appearances the miners are chosen, picked men. They speak well of their manager Mr J.M.Williams, also of the spirited promoter in London, and state that they have the greatest faith the proprietors will shortly amply repay their outlay.
In November 1872 the Panty-gaseg Copper Mining Company issued 40 shares at £250 pounds each. Among the subscribers were, W P Powell, Covent Garden, Henry Gibson , Walworth Road London, J Rutter MD Brighton, E L Brewer, London, Rickman and Buxton Shillitoe, London and J W Morris London.
However the mine never lived up to its name and in May 1879 the company who held leases to mine under Pant y gaseg and Castell Farms was dissolved.
The same area was operated for a short time again by another company called the New Cambrain Syndicate from 1906 to 1907.
Further west The Gaddair Copper Mining Company, incorporated in 1839, sank at least three trail shafts at Pen Bryn y Eglwys on Carmel Head The east/west trending vein was explored by a number of shafts.
The vein was mainly quartz with traces of chalcopyrite and terminates in a small cove. The remains of a round chimney stack with possible pits and site of a wheel house can be seen
There are further shafts in the area including one at the sea edge
In the share prospectus in June 1839 the mines were described:-
“These mines are situated to the west of Parys Mountain and are well known … as a sett of great importance, and estimate them to be of no less value that the celebrated Parys mine which has realised millions to it’s noble proprietors. The Gaddair as well as the Parys mine, was the subject of a singular prophecy, well known in the Principality, of the celebrated seer Robin Ddu, who lived towards the close of the sixteenth centaury and was remarkable for his dark sayings. His prediction as respects the Parys mine has been wonderfully fulfilled, the produce being so great, that the quantity actually influenced the market price of copper throughout Europe for a long period.
This sett contains nearly 700 acres of rich mining ground. Four great courses or champion lodes, beside a number of strong veins … evidently of the same character as Parys mountain. One of the levels has been driven upwards of 220 yard under the covering of about 100 yards. In ten yards from the entrance of this level, several tons of copper ore have been obtained, and the metal is left in it both above and below for future operations. In sinking a shaft sixteen yards deep upon the same lode 500 yards distance a similar result ensued., and a quantity of copper was raised saleable at £23 per ton.
On the south side, in another level driven about 100 yards under the covering of eighty yards , copper was found, and proved bearing up to the surface. From this level a cross cut may be made so as the intersect the two great lodes. In this part of the ground the two lodes are rapidly closing on each other and it is expected that an immense body of ore will be found at the intersection.
In addition to the metals, the mineral water is found to possess a corresponding property with those of Parys mine, and in the deep ground, is expected will be equally viable in yielding copper by precipitation.”
In 1847 there were 18 miners as well as 6 others including a blacksmith and carpenter working at the site to drive the Hounds cave adit towards the expected lode.
As with all mines water was a big problem and in August 1848 a meeting was held in London to try and raise money to buy a pumping engine. However the problems of water and only small amounts on copper meant that the mine was sold on around 1868.
In 1835 a company called the Anglesey mining company had sought to acquire the rights of the copper mines at Rhosymynach from Messers Paynter and Jones for the sum of £4500. The offer was refused and the rights sold for a higher price to an English company which however was unable to make the venture pay.
In 1863 a Mr Edmund Spargo moved into the Mynachdy area. He took out leases on the Rhosmynach and Carmel copper mines.
At Rhosymynach three shafts of 200 feet were sunk. Three lodes were discovered. Assays in the North lode showed 5.6% copper while the Middle lode showed up to 11.37%.
Other minerals including Iron, Bismuith, Silver and Gold were also discovered. A sea level adit with four deep sinks was also dug. Although the lease ran for 45 years the mine was soon abandoned.
In 1882 the mining journal refers to “the Rhosmynanch mine … which formally turned out large quantities of rich copper ore.
The price of copper and lead are of course sadly against success of mining operations here and elsewhere, and it is difficult in even the best mines to make more than a small profit. with a slight advance in prices, which is sure to come, there is still a good future for these historic Anglesey mines”.
The work was reopened in 1919 and in 1917 80 tons of ore was recovered. The workings were abandoned again in 1926.
Anglesey copper mines part 2 by Neil Summers
In the last issue we looked at some of the other large copper mines on Anglesey. Some of the smaller mines are looked at this time.
… Some copper was found in 1858 at the East Mona Mine (SH479914) at Llaneilian. Duncan’s shaft intersected the lode at 14 yards which was said to be “3-foot-thick and full of copper and continuing towards the Parys mines” As if to echo the latter the shafts were named after Rothwell or Roose.
A trail shaft was sunk to 15 fathoms in 1853 at Gwredog mine (SH417901) North West of Llanerchymedd. However, like many others it was abandoned due to “trouble with water”.
In the same year a shaft was sunk at Llaneuddog or Caeronneg near LLanellian (SH489 905) it was situated ” about one mile from Parys Mountain and 2 miles from the smelting houses at Amlwch port. “Perceptible are three or four veins of copper running through the land into the mountain.” A shaft has been sunk about 9 yards. They have raised in a few days 2 tons of copper”
Gilfach mine at Mynydd y Garn ,Llanerchymedd (SH30849139) was again promoted as being “close to Parys mine” in a Sale of 1860. The main shaft was reported as being only 33 feet deep but a good quantity of copper had been recovered and sold by local tradesmen who were reportedly selling the mine to enable further investment to take place.
Applications to purchase were to be made to William Aubrey, printer, Llanerchymedd.
Close by was also the Geir mine (SH 383 819)
The Ashcroft Anglesey Copper Mining Company Limited worked the Holyhead Copper Mine at Porth Ruffydd (SH2280 7980) from 1855 until 1882.
In 1858 the mine had been described as ” one of the best in Europe” By 1858 two shafts had been sunk.
One was down to 18 fathoms with a 7-foot-wide lode extending for 3 fathoms in depth with rich stones of copper. The area became known as copper mine creek.
Close by the Porth Y Rhwydau mine also produced copper. ( SH 228799)
The Great Dinorben Mining Company set up near Llanfechell in 1867. This was a limestone quarry in which it was said that copper could be found.
When sold in 1868 to the Porthwen Bay Mining Company it was stated ” There is erected on the land a good and substantial building, three stories high” There was also a 12 HP high pressure Steam Engine and 18 HP Cornish Boiler with two flues throughout.
The Mona Consuls Mine was situated at Porth y wrach on the shore at Bull Bay.
In 1881 it was reported that the mine had three distinct lodes with 30% copper and was producing 300 to 400 tons of copper per month. By 1882 the miners were suffering a 5% pay cut. A pumping engine had been obtained as the mine was hindered by water.
The Mining Journal also has a reference to the Rhianfa mine trail working in Bull Bay (SH421 942) dating from 1863.A good vein of copper ore was discovered from what may have been a sea level adit.
The Bryn Goleu (SH425902) mine was also close by.
During 1888 & 1889 a number of assays were made in the Llangaffo area. (SH4468) A small amount of chalcopyrite containing up to 23% copper was found. Silver was also found in the galena.
At the eastern end of Parys mountain, the Morfa Du mine was worked from 1881 until 1904. The workings were shallow and ill defined. A bluestone polymetallic ore was raised and 5783 tons of ore containing 28% zinc and 487 tons of lead were recovered.
As late at 1912 chalcopyrite was still being extracted from Bron Heulog (SH 342 875) near Llanfaethlu.
The great Geologist, Greenly makes a reference to “Copper, apparently chalcopyrite, is being worked near this place. Other copper mines in the area include Cefn Du Bach (SH328898) Ysgargeulyn mine (SH 3182) and Pendre ( SH 345 824)
At Porth Helygen (SH492905) opposite Dulas island a level was driven for copper to the south of the cove and chalcopyrite was obtained. Lead and copper is also reported to have been worked at a mine near City Dulas (SH469875) at Porth Aber (SH489 905) and Brynfyches (SH 490905)
At Ogof-fawr (SH487921) at Llanelian there are two small old levels in the shale. These contain some quartz veins with a little chalcopyrite and some strings of malachite.
The Tyllau Duon Mine (SH483925) at Point Lynas was worked around 1870 mainly for slate. However some references to trails for copper and lead also exist.
In 1900 some chalcopyrite was also found to the NNE of Rhosgoch railway station (SH410895) and also in a level at Porth Cynfor.(SH394950) near Llanbadrig.
It was suggested by Glazebrook in 1964 that this latter level may have shown some evidence of roman copper mining. The Porth Padrig (SH305928) Bryn Llewelyn (SH395946) and Glasfryn mine ( SH418943) mines are also nearby.
The Porthwen Bay Mine Company also dug for copper in the area. (SH4194) as well as at the Dinorben mine mentioned above.
There are said to be old shafts for copper near Plas Gwyn (SH528782) at Pentraeth and at Plas Coch (SH269767).
At near by Tan y graig (SH517786) it is known that Galena was mined. There is a reference to a copper mine at Aberffraw.
At Llanddona (SH 5779) there is an old level which was also driven for lead In 1623 Sir John Wynn of Gwydir writes to the “Prime officer” of Beaumaris ” I Pray you do your endeavour to sell my lead ore that is at Beaumaris”
(The editor would like to thank Tony Oldham for some of the information used in this article)
New underground area discovered.
Congratulations to Ron, Oliver and Ian for discovering a further extension to the underground workings at the 16 fathom level.
After removing a small amount of fallen rubble a crawl brought them into a new section of passageway. This is in an area which was extensively supported with wooded props while it was being worked.
The area contains some nice formations and some interesting artefacts. The remains of a three inch square wooden ducting can be seen together with more wooden ladders.
However the greatest find must have been a small chamber which goes down to a lower level. The remains of steps cut into the rock can be clearly seen going down to water level. Next to these steps is a possible shute or inclined plain for hauling material from below.
This discovery serves to remind us all that there are more areas of the mine waiting to be discovered and explored.
Equipment and its selection by Oli Burrows
Part one: -Rules & Ropes
Most climbing and caving equipment now comes under the provisions of the E.C. Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.) directive, which requires that all equipment sold must meet appropriate safety standards. These are defined as Euro norms (EN) or provisional Euro norms (prEN)….
All right, that’s enough of that, but it does actually matter.
You might assume that because it is labelled with a pretty little CE mark any harness or helmet you buy will do the job.
The answer to that is ‘maybe’. It will certainly do the job for which it was intended, but there are different requirements, and therefore different standards for example, for industrial helmets and climbing helmets; for climbing ropes and low stretch ropes; for climbing sit harnesses and industrial ones, and yet others for full body harnesses and rescue harnesses; so it is important to be clear about what you want it for when you buy it (the retailer then has a legal responsibility to supply equipment fit for purpose) or to understand the detail of the standards if you buy or acquire something without advice. That said equipment failure is very rare, and then is usually the result of misuse or prior damage.
Ropes come in several flavours: red ones taste of strawberry, green ones are lime….
Seriously though they can and are differently constructed and made from several different materials according to their use. If you are buying or using ropes it is important to understand these differences in order to select the correct one.
Climbing ropes (EN892) are made of heat treated Nylon 66. The heat treatment causes the fibres to shrink. In the event of the rope holding a fall energy is absorbed by stretching the fibres, thus minimising the energy that has to be absorbed by the falling climbers body. It is essential that if a fall greater than the length of rope out is possible (e.g. from 10 feet above the belayer to 10 feet below) a climbing rope is used otherwise the climber may sustain serious injury from the abrupt shock load to their body in the event of such a fall.
However, because of this inherent and necessary stretch climbing ropes are inefficient to use for SRT. An 11mm. rope may stretch up to 8% under bodyweight (and up to 20% in very severe falls), which equates to a stretch of 4m. (12ft) on a 50m. (150ft.) pitch)
For this reason low stretch ropes (prEN1891), which stretch around half as much, are much to be preferred for SRT work. These are normally made either of Nylon 66 (not heat treated) or polyester.
Nylon is particularly susceptible to damage by strong acids, while polyester is readily damaged by strong alkali.
Ideally polyester ropes, tapes and harnesses should be used wherever possible in Mynydd Parys, both because of the high inherent acidity in the mine and also because all the lighting systems we currently use are based on lead-acid batteries.
But in practice polyester rope does have some disadvantage – in the event of holding a fall higher impact forces are transmitted to the climber, knots weaken the rope more, and it is usually only available in black, not the ideal colour for use underground! This is because its main use is by special forces for whom it is the preferred abseil rope because the sheath has a higher melting point and can therefore better cope with repeated high speed abseils.
Care of Ropes Nylon ropes should be kept well away from car batteries (the most common source of strong acid contamination) and lead-acid lighting systems. Unfortunately, acid damage is rarely obvious, and usually only confirmed by chemical analysis after the rope has broken!! By the way strong alkali can also cause damage, so don’t bleach your rope to clean it!
The other major causes of damage are abrasion and grit getting within the core of the rope. Serious abrasion occurs when a rope under load is run over an edge. SRT pitches should ideally be rigged so that the rope hangs free.
In a shaft this may involve diverting the rope using a sling and karabiner, this diversion then having to be passed by ascending/descending cavers.
If it is unavoidable that the rope runs over an edge then an edge protector (a heavy duty sleeve about 60cm. long) or an edge roller (usually only used in rescues, where a rope will be actually pulled over an edge to raise a stretcher or casualty) should be used to minimise damage.
Grit is insidious as it can continue to cause internal damage even when the rope is apparently clean. Avoid treading on ropes. If a rope is trodden on wipe any grit off the sheath. Ropes should be inspected on a regular basis by running the entire rope through your hands, testing for any changes in feel – sudden stiffening or softening, lumpiness or thinness, and visually inspecting the sheath for cuts. Washing and rinsing is good for ropes. Either do this in the bath or in a large washing machine. In the latter case loop the rope through itself to form a chain to avoid one massive tangle, or put it loosely in a bag. A neutral pH (5.5 – 8.5) mild cleaner can be used – Stergene or soap flakes.
Drying should be done naturally over a washing line. Do not use a pressure washer, or washers connected to the tap with a hose. These have been shown to drive grit into the core of the rope while making it superficially clean and this can reduce the strength of the rope by up to 50%. For muddy ropes a simple cleaner can be made by fixing two shoe or floor brushes face to face and pulling the rope through these while applying water.
With a new rope it is important to get out any kinks before abseiling or falling on it. Just take the end for a walk or free hang it with a lightweight on the end. The life expectancy of a rope is impossible to gauge, so much depends on the conditions under which it is used, and the falls or accidents, which may befall it. In climbing situations 3 years’ recreational use is reckoned typical, but caving can be more wearing. If a rope sustains one major fall it should be discarded – your life may depend on it!
Finally to dispense with some widely held myths that have been discounted: German tests have shown that U.V. degradation (rare in mines anyway!) in normal use is insignificant, while Americans have tried various forms of rope abuse showing that neither Coca-Cola, fresh urine nor crampon points caused a reduction in strength even standing on a rope laid across angle iron did no measurable damage.
Harnesses should be selected to be appropriate for the conditions and lighting systems used. Harnesses usually have a very large inbuilt safety factor (the tape they are made from is, for comfort, far wider than is necessary for safety) but check it for cuts; and pay particular attention to stitching.
While buckles are susceptible to corrosion this is most unlikely ever to become dangerous. Dirty kit should be washed as for ropes. If it catches a really nasty disease or should you ever feel the desire to disinfect it (and one can visualise situations where you might!) this can be done in “disinfectant containing quaternary ammonium compounds reinforced with chlorohexadine…” – Savlon to you and me, at the ‘general use’ dilution, for an hour at room temperature followed by rinsing.
The Troll harness instructions sum up the situation with regard to recommended life well: “If you stored this harness in a room filled with inert gas at 20°c. for 10 years there would be no significant degradation, on the other hand you could trash it first time out if you really try.”
KARABINERS AND OTHER METAL HARDWARE
As we well know both aluminium and steel are swiftly attacked in Mynydd Parys. Writing in 1819 Faraday describes how a steam engine was rapidly rendered useless by attack from the acidic water, so that thereafter the water it used had first to be neutralised by the addition of lime, and then, for economy, recycled.
Unfortunately, the 7076 aluminium alloy used for karabiners is particularly susceptible to corrosion. To some extent it may be protected by anodising, but this coating generally rubs or scratches off quite quickly. The easiest solution is therefore to rinse gear in tap water if it has been contaminated. Gates should then be lubricated with a thin oil such as WD 40.
Karabiners are quite robust. It used to be thought that dropping karabiners might create micro cracks, and that they should therefore be discarded after any sizeable drop, but this is no longer considered necessary providing the gate mechanism still works smoothly and there is no other apparent damage.
In normal use the most likely damage is small nicks and roughness in the internal corners caused, for example where a karabiner is used on a bolt hanger. Even minor damage can later strip the sheath of a rope run through it under load, so checking for this is important.
Any bolts placed for long term use should be either Petzl P38’s or DMM Eco-anchors as these are stainless steel. Both these types require the hole to be pre-drilled. Any in-situ maillons should also be stainless steel. If self-drilling steel anchors are placed, hangers which are normally alloy or stainless steel should not be left on them as natural corrosion will be accelerated by electro-chemical action between the dissimilar metals.
Life expectancy of hardware is long. Karabiners are conservatively given 10 years, but unless obviously damaged will last far longer.
Descenders do wear away, but bobbins in the Petzl ‘Stop’ are easily replaced. Likewise, the teeth on ascenders can become worn on gritty ropes.
There are two distinct types, the industrial hard-hat (prEN397) and the climbers helmet (PrEN12492). Both are designed to protect the head from falling objects, although the standard which a climbing helmet must meet is considerably higher than that required from an industrial helmet. This is not to say that all industrial helmets offer inferior protection; for example, the Petzl Ecrin comes in two equal strength versions, climbing and industrial, but cheap site hats will invariably be inferior to a climbing helmet. The other important difference is in the harness system. A climbing helmet is designed to offer protection in the event of a fall when rock-climbing or a slide down snow. It must therefore stay on, and the climbing helmet standard ensures that this is the case.
An industrial helmet harness, however, must release under a low load. This avoids the risk of asphyxiation (which although possible in a climbing situation is considered the lesser risk) and is advantageous if the wearer should become trapped by a tunnel or trench collapse and need to be pulled from it. For this reason, it is advisable for climbing helmet wearers to release the chin strap if working in a dig.
Helmets are made from polypropylene, nylon or fibreglass.
The first two degrade naturally, and have a life-span of about 5 years, the latter is good for 10 years or more. The mechanism by which the different types absorb energy is very different. Plastic helmets deform by flexing under a load but then spring back. Under severe loads the elastic limit of the material will be exceeded, meaning that it will be unable to perform in the same way in the event of a further accident although the shell may appear undamaged. In such cases it is therefore necessary to discard the helmet even if there is no apparent permanent damage. Fibreglass helmets absorb energy by delamination of the layers of fibreglass. This will normally be evident as areas of discolouration on the inside of the helmet (assuming that it isn’t a model with stuck in foam liner), and possibly after severe impacts actual ‘soft’ areas in the shell. If these tell-tale signs are not evident the helmet will be O.K. Minor chipping of the exterior gelcoat on fibreglass helmets is not serious and may be ignored.
Nylon helmets are probably adversely affected by the high acidity of the pools in Parys mine, but there again so is your head if you stick that in them too! Certainly the metal rivets used to secure the head cradle in some climbing helmets will corrode so it is wise to check these periodically and wash the helmet sometimes. Finally, don’t apply sticky labels or write on helmets in case the glue/paint contains solvents which might cause harm. Any damage is likely only to be superficial, but it is better to play safe.
Mine survey By Neil Summers
The PUG welcome pack contains a sketch map of the underground areas of Parys Mine drawn by Dave Jenkins.
However there has been no recent attempt to survey the accessible passageways in the mine.
This all changed in June of this year when Neil Summers, Ian Jones and Gareth Jones decided that they would take on the challenge.
None of the crew had any previous experience of mine surveying, however following research on the techniques and tools required they decided to give it a go.
The first purchase was a decent compass with an integral device called a clinometer for measuring the angle of falls and rises in the mine. Together with a tape measure this allowed the distance between and change in direction of an over 200 points in the mine to be measured.
This information was converted to 3D co-ordinates using a spreadsheet written by one of the members. This allowed the distance North and East of the start point together with the drop in level at each point to be calculated.
The spreadsheet also allowed these positions to be defined in terms of the National Grid Reference system, thus allowing underground features to be plotted on a surface map.
The next step was to find some software to allow the data to be plotted. An internet search for cave surveying programs found a number of options. In the end a shareware program called “Compass and Cave” was selected.
This allows all the information to be listed and then will automatically plot out the cave as a plan or profile.
Both views can be zoomed in or out and also turned to allow the cave system to be viewed from different angles.
The other advantage is that the finished map can be exported to standard CAD packages for drawing or imported into graphic drawing packages like Paint Shop Pro.
In addition the software allows statistical information on the mine to be easily accessed.
At the time of writing about 80% of the mine has been mapped using these techniques. The 10-fathom East and some partially flooded areas remain to be surveyed.
A total of 1.8 km of passageways have been mapped so far. The deepest point is the water level in the spiral staircase, which was 43 metres below the surface when first, surveyed but which has now fallen further.
The mapped passageway extends 122 metres north, 125 metres west and 80 metres east of the entrance shaft.
The map also shows that the wheelbarrow on the 16 fathom East level is very close to the ladder shaft ,the bottom of which is visible in the 20 fathom East passageway (The pretties).
The surveying work is continuing. The latest edition of the map can always be downloaded from the PUG web site. It is hoped to complete the work and include a copy of the map in the next newsletter.
Rock Cannon By Neil Summers
Congratulations are due to Gareth Jones who has found the first rock cannon site on the mountain.
The firing of rock cannon to mark a local or national celebration has been carried out in some areas of North Wales for many years. The earliest recorded firing dates from 1797. There are two early records for the use of rock cannon at Parys Mountain.
Both of these were in 1821 when in June the Coronation of King George was celebrated and again in December of the same year when the mine owner Colonel Hughes’s son and heir was born.
The rock cannon were made by hand boring a series of holes into a rock outcrop or large boulder.
A narrow channel cut into the surface of the surrounding rock normally linked these holes to each other.
Each hole would be partially charged with gunpowder, a fuse, normally a goose feather quill, was inserted and the remaining space in the hole filled with crushed stone compacted with a brass or wooden stemming rod. A thin trail of gunpowder would be run in the linking groves between the cannon and back to the firing position.
The length of the linking groves and the varying depth of the cannon varied the timing and sound of the canon as it was fired. It is said that some skilful miners could arranged the holes and firing time such a way as to make the cannon sing out a simple tune such as happy birthday.
So far the site of three Rock cannon have been found at Parys Mountain. All are in an area designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument within the Great Open Cast
The first site has 16 holes arranged in two horizontal rows of 8. The holes are around 1.5 inches’ diameter and depths ranging from 5 to 7 inches. The remains of some sort of black powder have been found at the bottom of some of the holes and people are advised not to poke into the holes.
There are no obvious tracks linking the holes so they may have been connected on the surface of the rock using grease impregnated with gunpowder.
The rock face in which they are located is about 1 foot above ground level and slopes at 45 degrees to the vertical.
When fired the cannon would have been aimed in the direction of the village of Penysarn to the north east. From the probable trajectory the blast would not have been seen from outside the opencast.
It is likely that the echo of the blast in the opencast would have intensified the sound.
The second site, close by, has 14 cannon holes arranged in a pattern of 8 and 6. The group of 8 have a diameter of 1.75 inches. The other group range from 1 inch to 1.75 inches in diameter. The depth of these holes range from 4 to 27 inches. The bottom of some of the longer holes seem to contain a black powder, which may extend the total depth of the holes even further.
The main group are again about 1 foot of the ground and the holes appear to be almost horizontal. Material ejected from them would be fired across the opencast in a north westerly direction towards Amlwch town. Again it is unlikely that the blast would be seen from outside the opencast. The positioning and direction of fire making maximum use of echo within the open cast.
The search is now on to find the location of any other examples at Parys Mountain. If you find any please let us know.
Remember do not go poking into dry blast holes in case they still contain some gunpowder!
Alexander Fraser of Lovat By Neil Summers
The historical Scottish Alexander Fraser of Beaufort was of the House of Lovat, the Fraser clan prominent around Loch Ness. He was born around 1663 and was educated at Kings College, Aberdeen from 1678 to 1683. In 1689 he led a branch of the Fraser clan in the Jocobite’s campaign against the King’s force.
In 1692 Alexander attended a ball where a bagpiper antagonised him by playing the tune ” The biotag air Mac Thomas” which was disparaging to the Fraser clan. In a fit of anger Alexander stabbed and killed the piper. Because of this incident and his position as a Jocobite leader, Alexander decided to flee his homeland.
Some controversy exists over these dates as according to some reports Alexander was killed at the Battle of Claverhouse in November 1689 and was buried at Kirkall. Other reports suggest that the burial record was a cover for his flee from Scotland after killing the piper a few years later.
Alexander Fraser was said to have been given sanctuary and employment by the Marquis of Powys. Over the following year’s Fraser became knowledgeable in his Lordship’s mineral interests and became a prospector in both north and south Wales.
The Welsh Alexander Fraser is first recorded as working in the mines of Penrhyn Du in 1733 He married in south Wales in 1738. If this was the same Alexander Fraser as that born around 1663 he would have been 75 years old.
In 1761 the Welsh Fraser persuaded Sir Nicholas Bayly to start to prospect for copper at Parys Mountain. In 1762 with the assistance of Jonathon Roose and Roland Puw a large quantity of ore was found near Cerrig y bleddia This eventually lead to the development of the Mona and Parys mines.
At this time Fraser was said to be almost illiterate and it is difficult to reconcile this with the years that the Scottish Fraser is known to have spent at Aberdeen University.
Fraser was employed at the mines until his death in 1776. (Aged 113 ?!) His sons continued to work at the mines.
The advanced age of marriage and death suggest the possibility that two different Alexander Fraser were somehow involved in this tale.
From the time that copper was discovered until his death Fraser remained in hiding in Anglesey. He did not pursue any claim to his father’s estates, as he was still wanted for murder in Scotland. Although it is said that local people new of his background and often referred to him as Lord Lovat or Lord Fraser.
In 1761 a letter from William Morris and another from Robert Griffiths in 1800 referred to him as Lord Lovat. It was recorded by the Reverend Owen Jones that he first visited Amlwch in 1830 and was told of ” a strange old gentleman working in the mines that everyone said was a nobleman in disguise and a fugitive from justice. There was something superior in his behaviour and he would never enter a miner’s hut without taking off his hat”
Elizabeth Roberts was born in 1788 and in 1884 she recalled seeing John Fraser as a superintendent in the iron pools. She always knew him as Lord Lovat.
Even the Managers of the mine gave due regard to the Welsh Fraser. Thomas Williams the mine manager is said to have shown respect when some buildings in which Fraser was living were not destroyed during mine development.
It was also recorded that John Sanderson the Marquis accountant and general manager agent used the title “My Lord Fraser” and showed the man due respect. As did the chief mine captain James Treweek. This respect was based on the attitude of the marquis’s family itself. From the first records in 1733 to the court case in the House of Lord in 1885 they supported the Welsh Fraser’s claims.
The Welsh Fraser had four sons. His eldest, called John went to Inverness in 1812 to try and progress his claim. The same claim was pursued by successive generations until in 1885 John Fraser (IV) had his case turned down in the House of Lords.
The House of Lord found it is difficult to reconcile the dates of birth and deaths with the same man. One likely possibility is the Welsh Fraser’s may have been descended from a, possible illegitimate son, of the original Alexander Fraser of Lovat.
(Based on an article in TAAS)
Alexander Frasier -Again
The last newsletter contained an article about this mining adventurer. I have recently received an email from someone else who is researching the family and has obtained some additional facts.
From: Ann Rhys Wiliam, Denbighshire
I read with interest the piece about Alexander Fraser on the Parys Mountain site. I wondered whether you would be interested in some of the research I have done on the elusive Alexander Fraser.
I heard my mother say that he died a very rich man but intestate and that his money went to Chancery! Whatever the truth of the matter of whether he was the “true Lord Lovat” there seems to have been quite a lot of coming and going between Anglesey and Inverness.
Why the interest? My name is Ann Fraser Rhys-Wiliam (nee Owen). My maternal grandmother was Kate (or Catherine Fraser) who was born (16 Sept. 1881) in the Llanerchymedd/Dulas/Llugwy area of Anglesey to Margaret (nee Roberts) and?? Fraser.
I don’t know her father’s name as that is clouded in mystery – I think he possibly deserted his wife and child and apparently my grandmother was either born at the workhouse in Llanerchymedd or spent some time there as a child before being “adopted”.
However, her father was a Fraser and apparently a direct descendant of Alexander Fraser, son of Thomas of Beaufort and Sibella (Macleod of Kintail). There was I believe a close relationship to the John Fraser who tried to claim the peerage. in 1885.
Apparently Alexander was born in 1667 and fled to Wales after killing a piper at Beauly.
According to Anderson in his Historical Account of the Family of Fraser he died in 1776 at the age of 109, “without male issue”.
He goes on to say that “the incident is given on testimony of Simon Fraser, natural son of Simon Lord Lovat, a nephew to Alexander who was examined judicially before Sheriff Substitute, upon 15th October 1823 on the family pedigree”.
However, “the Court of Sessions decided on the evidence before it that Alexander died without issue and their lordships adjudged the title to his younger brother, the notorious Lord Simon of the Forty-five and this decision, though illegal and of no effect as regards the peerage was subsequently confirmed by formal decision of the House of Lords in 1837.” In 1885, at a trial before the House of Lords, the house of Fraser produced what purported to be a certificate of Alexander’s death in 1689.
Alexander was married on 22 March 1738 to Elizabeth Edwards at Llanddulas, Denbighshire ( he was 61 and she was 34) and they had 4 children:
John ( 1739 – 1828) – he died at Cerrigybleddian
Alexander (1740? – 1815?) – He died in Inverness and was married abt. 1759 to a Miss Cameron.
Some of the Frasers of Nova Scotia claim descent from him through his son the Hon. James Fraser (b.1759) who emigrated to Nova Scotia where he became a leading figure and married Rachel, daughter of Benjamin de Wolfe.
Simon ( b. abt. 1742)
William (b. abt. 1744) [A William Fraser a miner of Minffordd is recorded in 1801 census]
The place of birth of all four children is given as Lovat, Inverness-shire, Scotland
John, the eldest of Alexander’s sons, married Mary Griffiths on 3 October 1773 in the parish of Penmynydd (and one record I’ve seen puts her place of birth as Lovat, Inverness-shire).
They had three sons:
John – born abt. 1780 (again of Lovat, Inverness-shire) and christened on 6th August 1780 (of Lovat, Inverness-shire. He married Ann Davies on 4th August 1801 at Llanwenllwyfo. He died in Amlwch in June 1857
John Fraser (above) was succeeded by his eldest son:
John – born in Holywell, Flintshire in 1802 (any connection with mining there?). He married Elizabeth Williams in 1824 at Llaneilian, Anglesey and they had 4 sons:
William (b. abt.1804 Holywell)
David (b. abt. 1806 Holywell
1 John – born 16th April 1825. (the John Fraser who tried to claim the title in 1885 or was it John above). He married his first wife Catherine – they had one son John (b. 1847).
A “John” (IV or V) married Ellenor Edwards in 1874 and had a son John Alexander (b.1885)
There is also mention of three girls – Ellenor, Catherine and Annie – but I don’t know whether they were from this marriage or whether they were John Alexander’s daughters.
There is also mention of a further 5 children around this period – Robert, William, Richard, David and Elizabeth – who might have been John IV’s children from a second marriage.
There is also mention of a marriage to Augusta Cox (29 March 1888)
And there the trail goes cold!
Unless anyone else can add to this family tree and can explain how “Lord Lovat ” survived until aged 109.
A report on the condition of Parys mine 7th Jan 1862 J.Petherick ( FGS)
I have recently visited the Parys mine with the purpose of examining the underground operations and the measures adopted by the present lessees for effectual exploitation of the North Discovery lode, below the 100 fathom level.
The former lessees being unable to obtain a renewal of their lease, for a considerable period prior to the expiration, discontinued all outlay on works of a prospective character, such as sinking of shafts, extension of levels and other operations essential to continuing operation of the mine.
Hence the present leases found it necessary to stipulate for the sinking of a new engine shaft ,calculated to intersect the North Discovery lode at a depth of not less than 120 fathoms, perpendicular to the surface and to erect there on ,within a period of three years from the start of the lease a steam pumping engine of not less than 40 horse power.
They also undertook to drive an adit north and south from the Morfu Ddu shaft to intersect the north discovery lode.
I have to report that in lieu of sinking a new engine shaft the present company have adopted the plan of extending the “Gwen Shaft”, the principle shaft used hitherto diagonally, on the course of the north discovery lode from the 45 fathom level to the present bottom of the mine being 12 fathoms below the 100 fathom level with the intention of making it there permanent working shaft.
In carrying out this plan an additional lode was discovered, containing a valuable deposit of ore which has been recovered during the sinking of the drive.
Despite the accidental discovery of this valuable ore I am of the opinion that the original intention of sinking a new shaft would have been more beneficial to the future of the mine.
The present shaft however being completed to the bottom of the mine and fitted with the most efficient and well-constructed winding apparatus for the drawing of ores to the surface ,can be made available for the immediate extension of the workings in depth and affording as it does the means necessary for the effectual prosecution of the mine to the depth completed.
I feel on mature consideration of all the circumstance, that I shall best consult the interest of the lessors by advising the Trustees to sanction the substation of the diagonal in lieu of the perpendicular shaft. At the same time it is regretted that the lessees did not in the first in stance obtain permission of the Trustees to deviate so materially from the mode of working originally decided upon…
… The lessees are now preparing to erect the steam pumping engine for the purpose of draining of their lease and some portions of the machinery are already at the mines and the whole will I understand shortly be completed.
It is now proposed to erect the engine on some convenient place between the Gwens and Dyers shaft instead of the spot originally contemplated west of the former.
I have no objections to this as to allow of the application of at least 40 horse power to pumping purposes exclusively as stipulated in the lease.
The lessees have incurred considerable expense in the erection of machinery and of other works both underground and at the surface… According to a statement of expenditure, furnished to me by the resident agent upwards of £6000 has been spent for which no immediate advantage can be derived. However upwards of £2000 has been spent in exploring the ine to the west of Gwens shaft, where prospects have always been ,in my opinion, of such an impoverished character as to render the propriety of such a large expenditure at least very questionable.
7th Jan 1862 J.Petherick ( FGS)
(Adapted from MMS 3512 Bangor)
Snail mail ?
Copper is very toxic to molluscs; so much so that it has often been used as the active ingredient for molluscicides. Yet at Parys Mountain on Anglesey, the site of what was once a huge open-cast copper mine there is a very large population of the snail Helix aspersa. Field work suggests that these snails inhabit non-toxic areas within the mine site and so may avoid toxic areas. However, laboratory behaviour studies have failed to show any avoidance, a behaviour, which is shown by snails from non-toxic control sites.
PREHISTORY AT PARYS MINE By David Jenkins
Among the interesting features currently accessible in Parys Mine are the prehistoric sections. Indeed, this was the justification presented to, and agreed by, the Marquess of Anglesey in 1995 in giving permission for underground access to be regained to a mine that had seen around 100 shafts and adits sealed in 1980 for insurance reasons.
The 18th century miners had been aware of earlier activity and for example “Roman workings” are indicated on John Reynolds’ map of 1764.
Oliver Davies excavated old spoil tips in the 1930s and recorded hammer stones and charcoal, used in fire setting, ascribing them to the “Celtic/Roman period” though he did not then have the means to obtain a date from this evidence. Positive proof for the prehistoric origins of the mine had only been obtained in 1988 by dating the charcoal in the rediscovered surface spoil from Davies’s dig.
This had indicated an age corresponding with the Early Bronze Age, making Mynydd Parys, comparable to other prehistoric mine sites in Wales, principally those of the Great Orme and Cwmystwyth.
However, whilst it seems likely that the Romans would have exploited known deposits of copper, a thousand years later, only circumstantial evidence exists for any mining activity on the mountain a thousand years later, in the form of engraved copper ingots discovered there in the 19th century. No direct evidence has yet been revealed, nor indeed at the other Bronze Age sites in Wales
The logic for further research was that the possibility of finding more evidence on the surface of Mynydd Parys was unlikely, given the scale of disturbance in the 18th-19th centuries.
What seemed more promising was to get into the underground workings and explore back up towards the surface.
This argument was spurred on by the embarrassing existence of an alien rounded stone, brought out of the underground mine in the innocent 1970s and used as a convenient doorstop for over a decade. In the 1990s this was recognised as a diagnostic bronze aged stone hammer or maul.
All this led to the hire of Mostyn Rowlands and his JCB in 1995 and to a sunny day spent digging ever deeper on the site vaguely remembered from the 1970s as the entrance to Parys mine.
It was a relief when eventually a shuttered archway blocked by concrete appeared, and even more so when it proved possible to excavate a small body-tight opening above the concrete revealing space beyond.
We had thought that, maybe, after perhaps a year or so of careful exploration, evidence of prehistoric mining might be found. In fact, it took only about half an hour!
The main site is at the NW end of the 16fm level. Here a large work chamber had been driven upwards and had intersected the bottom of an earlier working, no doubt to the frustration of the 18th century miners.
The working was in filled with cemented spoil that now forms the excavated west wall and roof of the present chamber. Of particular interest within the sloping bands of spoil is a roughly horizontal bed of banded clay some 30cm thick.
This was presumably formed by slow deposition in a temporary pond during a quiescent phase between two periods of active mining. It is visibly rich in charcoal and preserved organic debris including fragments of oak and birch wood, acorns, oak leaves, bracken fronds, spores and enigmatic fibrous material (hemp/nettles?). The wood provided material for 14C dating confirming an Early Bonze Age date (3540±40 yrs. BP) and it is planned to date further samples from different beds to see if there is an age difference from bottom to top, an indication of how long the mining lasted.
The deposit also provides valuable information as to the surface environment at this time – obviously less acidic if dominated by oak and bracken in contrast to today’s bleaker landscape.
Successive sections have now been cut back in these deposits, cleaned, photographed and described, and a large amount of coarser organic debris recovered by washing that will go for identification at Coventry University.
In addition, a vertical column has been excised from the clay ponding deposits for analysis of the pollen content to provide a more detailed reconstruction of the surface vegetation. It may also be possible to match the results against a full dated pollen spectrum being produced for the nearby bog at Rhosybol that might further confirm the date of mining as well as revealing its impact on the local vegetation.
Other prehistoric deposits have been located nearby in the same work chamber including a small chamber with mauls and plant debris in the spoil, yet to be investigated in detail.
A small window in the roof of the passage also yielded wood fragments which gave a second similar date (3420±70 yrs BP) together with a small branch showing as yet unexplained, small (<1cm), ellipsoidal depressions.
These sites all cluster around what appears to be a large infilled shaft
Another promising section has also been located at the top of the Grand Stope (20fm N) which is to be examined and sampled.
Hopefully it may be possible to gain access to open passages above these Bronze Age deposits that could yield much more information on Bronze Age mining.
One such site has already been located and dated to the West of Quarry Stope (16fm W) where 18th-19th Century workings similarly broke up into an earlier descending passage some 2m in diameter.
Ponded deposits had again formed at the bottom of this passage, and these contained wood which has been dated to 3600±70 yrs BP (Figure 2). The passage leads up at steep angle for some 10m before becoming blocked with spoil, and is perhaps similar in nature to those described by O’Brien from the Bronze Age mines (3400-3000yrs BP) at Mount Gabriel in southern Ireland.
There is much work to do in locating and investigating further sites and analysing samples to work out the methods and sequence of mining and reconstructing the Bronze Age environment.
Enticing but currently inaccessible openings exist above the Brown Pool, (16fm NW) and the upper levels of Mona mine have yet to be re-entered and their prehistoric potential explored with luck, artefacts that can survive the acidic environment may be found, such as pot fragments (although these are notably absent at other Bronze Age mines) and organic matter – the bones of a buried miner would be lost but his skin would survive!
But we are fortunate in that what has already been found has elevated the mines on Mynydd Parys to an international archaeological status enjoyed by only a handful of mines in the UK, and these mostly in Wales.
Flora and Fauna at Parys Mountain By Neil Summers
The mountain looks a barren and forbidding landscape however many species do exist and are researched and catalogued by local specialist. Some of their work and lists are shown below.
John Bratton of CCW has looked at invertebrates on the mountain. Among the species he has found is a beetle called Notiophilis Biguttatus.
He has also found the water beetle Hydroporus morio which is the first record of the species in Anglesey.
One of the most beautiful beetles he was found is Cicindela campestris or the Green tiger beetle.
While one of the most ugly is a Gorse weevil Exapion ulicis found by Adrain Folwes.
There are also a number of spiders which have been found. One of the most fearsome looking is Arctosa perita .With Segestria senoculata also a good contender.
The CCW have also produced a list of Lichen from the mountain. Some of these species are specialised and have protected status.
So next time you are tramping around the mountain in Wellington boots, Overalls and head gear, have a thought for the little mits under your feet.
Pumping of Gardd Daniel shaft By Neil Summers
It was a fine spring morning when the normal flow of commuters across Mynydd Parys was stopped by traffic lights.Traffic lights anywhere on Anglesey are rare but on Mynydd Parys they were completely unexpected.
As people sat in their cars and looked at the traffic lights, pumps and tankers at the side of the road they may have remembered back to the BBC news broadcasts of a few days before.
The reporter had been underground and explained the hold up of water within the mountain was being retained by a concrete dam of uncertain strength.
Had something happened to that dam? Were the sins of Amlwch soon to be washed away by the acidic water trapped in the mountain?
In truth the experiment had been set up before the television coverage. The idea was to try and pump water out of Gardd Daniel shaft to see if shaft had a direct connection to the rest of the mountain.
If this could be proved then perhaps the shaft could be used as a means of removing the water from the mountain in the future.
The story of how the concrete lid of the shaft had been drilled and fitted with a steel lid was reported in issue 3 of this magazine.
The previous work meant that on this day the steel lid could be opened and a pulley system rigged up to allow the pump and its discharge pipe work to be lowered down the shaft.
A “dip meter” was used to record the change in level of the water in the shaft as the pump was turned on and water pumped into the road tankers standing by.
The environmental agency would not let us dispose of the water away from the site so the plan was to return it back to the shaft at the end of the day.
The level of water in the shaft was plotted against pumping time.
Initially the water level in the shaft was about 15 metres below the surface. Over the next 40 minutes the water level reduced at a constant rate down to 21.5 metre. Then suddenly there was an in rush of water and the shaft level rose back to around 18 metres.
The pumps continued to operate until the tankers were full but the level of water in the shaft did not change significantly.
Once pumping had stopped the shaft level was monitored for 60 minutes without significant change.
The whole of the 6000 gallons of water removed was pumped back down the shaft. What was surprising was that again there was no significant change in level of the shaft.
How can we explain these measurements? It would appear that the initial pump down removed water from the shaft at the expected rate. However at -21 metre an obstruction was removed, probably by pressure of water behind, it which resulted in a sudden rush of water into the shaft.
With the obstruction removed the water level in the shaft remained fairly constant as it cross levelled with a larger volume of water that had now become connected to the shaft.
So have we got a connection between the shaft and the rest of the mountain?
Oli has been doing some calculations:-
Initial drop was from -15.28 to -17.4 in 7 minutes.
This is a fall of 2.12 metres. The pump was rated at 1350 litres per minute. So in 7 minutes we would have pumped 9450 litres. To lower the level 2.12m. will require the extraction of 212 x 10 litres for every square metre of shaft.
As we pumped out 9450 litres this implies a surface area of 9450/2120 = 4.45m2. This equates reasonably well with an estimated shaft area of 2m x 2.25m. (=4.5.)
In the refilling stage we pumped back 27000 litres. The water level rose 15cm. A rise of 15cm. requires 150 litres per m2 This rise therefore implies an open surface area of 27000/150 =180m2
It could indicate a rise of 15cm. in a passage 180m. long and 1m. wide, or it could represent a single chamber 18m. x 10m. being refilled by 15 cm.
Conclusion My inclination is to say that the figure is far too low – a single good sized chamber or stope partially filled could account for the entire rise in water level, and one is certainly not draining the whole of the underground workings.
(Neil & Oli)
Dewatering of the mountain.
There have been several reports in the press in the last few weeks about the progress on the dewatering of the mountain. Dave Jenkins and Dave Wagstaff have been at the forefront in the meetings and have provided these reports.
There were several bodies with an interest – PUG, AIHT, Anglesey County Council, Anglesey Mining. and the Environment Agency.
All wanted the situation resolved, but priorities differed. AIHT and PUG wanted the Dyffryn Adda dam breached, in PUG’s case to give access, in the case of AIHT to enable copper recovery and aid long term sustainability of the AIHT project.
Both also of course have interests in historic preservation and conservation. Others, such as Cementation, are looking for the cheapest acceptable solution – this is to pour concrete down Gardd Daniel to form a new dam.
This would seal existing water into the Mountain – water which allegedly may contain PCB’s from old transformers dumped there, and may therefore be unacceptable on environmental grounds.
Three consultants have been approached, and Prof.
Paul Younger (Newcastle University) is sitting in on the discussions in a consultancy role.
ACC have received conflicting legal advice about whether the underground water is a reservoir or not. If it is then annual inspection of the dam may suffice.
In the end it may be decided that responsibility must be shared between a group of interested parties.
The Metal Mine Strategy for Wales is a new project funded through Objective 1 funding and promoted by the Welsh Assembly although run by the EA.
It is to address pollution problems, but is to take account of all other factors, including preservation of archaeology and historic mining sites.
Parys Mountain is one of their primary sites as it already has ongoing consultation and interested governmental and local bodies.
DJ suggests Parys could become a test case for acid mine remedial treatment. But AIHT are already considering accessing Objective 1 funds through HLF. It is now necessary to clarify the funding to avoid duplicate applications .
A further meeting had been held, attended by 25 – 30 people, some technical, some political. An inner
presidium had been formed for the ‘technical’ aspects to be discussed – PUG was fortunate that DW and DJ were on this to fight our corner.
Although EA still refuse to accept liability, they are becoming more positive about accepting a short term increase in level of pollutants flowing from Dyffryn Adda if this will help to resolve the problem long term.
Ian Cuthbertson (AMC) again pushed for a quick fix, drain it to Dyffryn Adda and breach the dam and be done with it.
DW proposed a new solution. Pump from Gardd Daniel over the mountain to an old storage bund at Dyffryn Goch.
Although the bund by the settlement ponds has been breached Brian Sorfleet had been consulted and said that to restore it would not be a difficult job.
If this pond was flooded to a depth of one metre it could contain 59,000 litres, i.e. more than the estimated volume of water within the mine.
The beauty of this scheme is that AMC already have permission to use this area for water storage.
The distance from Gardd Daniel was about half a mile to the Dyffryn Goch adit. Water could be directed through this from the Opencast to save having to pump it over the top.
SLD pumps had indicated that technically this scheme presented no great problems. They could pump at 400m3/hr. at which rate it would take 6 days to dewater the mine.
Dave said that a rate of 200m3/hr. might be better as it would reduce scouring – this would extend the pumping time to 12 days.
Once the water was contained it could then be treated at leisure – a small treatment plant could cope with 3 litres per minute. A suitable pilot plant was available at the old Wheal Jane Tin mine in Cornwall. The possibility of moving this to Mynydd Parys was being looked at.
Once the mine was drained the dam in Dyffryn Adda could be breached.
This plan gained general acceptance.
· Obtain permission from CADW to work on the entrance to Dyffryn Goch
· Opencast is an historic Monument and drain it so that it can be examined by PUG. Aim to pursue this ASAP with a view to draining the mine this summer.
· Following the rather inconclusive results of the test pumping from Gardd Daniel DW also put forward a suggestion Dyers Shaft might be core drilled – an 18″ core could be taken out to allow access for PUG members as well as providing a suitable shaft for pumping.
The views expressed in this report are personal and may not reflect the views of any of the members of the project group.
BBC Radio Parys
On a cold night in November another specialist local radio station could be heard broadcasting from the mountain.
Strange clicks and bleeps were interspersed with irrational and only just coherent snatches of conversation.
This was not the test broadcast of BBC radio 7 but a new underground communication system being tested at Mynydd Parys.
The system consists of a small surface based receiver with two long Ariel leads spread out on the ground. The underground station is similar.
What is different about the system is that it uses magnetic waves that travel through the ground to communicate rather than radio waves that travel through the air.
Communication between the two devices it achieved not by radio signal but by a magnetic wave signal that will travel through the ground.
Experiments showed that the device could be used to transmit voice signals from the Spiral staircase (depth 40 metres) directly to the receiver at the surface entrance.
If you move further away from the mine entrance the signal becomes weaker. It was just possible to make out what was being said from the Pisinite chamber but no signal could be received from the prehistoric sites.
To improve the signal the surface receiver was relocated to a point about the prehistoric site where a signal could again be obtained.
The device had been loaned to PUG by the North Wales Cave Rescue Organisation. It is re-assuring to know that the device works at Parys but let’s hope the CRO never have to visit to try it out in anger!
Excavation of the Dyffryn coch Portal By Dave Jenkins
During the last few months an application has been made to CADW and CCW to allow AIHT / PUG to excavate the Dyffryn Goch adit within the scheduled monument of the great Opencast.
The main purpose of the excavation was :-
To provide a possible contingency route in current emergency plans to de-water the mines.
To provide access to one of the earliest 18th C mine workings and it’s potential industrial archaeology
To assess the long term possibility of providing an underground access route for tourists.
Work started in September and excavation of mainly recent spoil from the adit portal has proceeded as planned. The confined area means that a small work force of 3-4 volunteers have removed some 5-10 m3 of spoil from the back of the 3-4-meter passage way. Three large boulders were also removed in this work.
The rock was found to be the local silurian shale forming the passage walls, it is heavily cleaved , silicified and pyritised making it very hard.
Two features of note have emerged during the excavation. Firstly, two areas have been recognised. The upper layer is a recent brown spoil but at the base of this is a sharp transition which exposed an underlying grey spoil of a more gravely in nature.
Within the lower grey layer a vertical timber and some rotted horizontal timber has been exposed. This has been interpreted as collapsed roof support, reassuringly indicating the position of an original timbered passage at the base of the opening buried by modern debris. The floor of this passage has not yet been exposed and is presumed to be at least 1m deeper.
The second feature is what is thought to be the original passage is located down at the bottom western side under the protection of an overhanging rock cut wall. However, it was driven through the western side of a chamber (pre opencast??) which extends from a rock arch at the northern side through to part of a second rock wall at the southern side. This chamber reaches upwards a couple of metres to the surface to which it had a small opening.
Most of the chamber is now infilled with loose spoil. Beyond the chamber a 2-3 tight crawl extends back downwards on the west side to the presumed original passage, this initially ended in a pool but has now been drained.
Following this initial exploratory excavation consolidation work is now planned for the eastern side of the chamber. This will prevent further loose spoil from falling into the newly discovered passageway.
Adapted from a report by D A Jenkins (Dec 2002)
Colony in space? By Neil Summers
A newly formed colony finds mysterious damage to property and crops, and then murder when a mining company moves in.
An arbiter arrives to mediate between the two parties. What is he doing here and what is the secret of the strange ruined city nearby?
Sound familiar? Well it would be if you were a fan on the 1970s TV program Dr Who. The arbiter was none other than “The Master” Dr Who’s arch enemy.
The Doctor ( Jon Pertwee) has built himself a completely new dematerialisation circuit for the TARDIS. He fits it and the TARDIS, together with himself and Jo, promptly leaves Earth for the planet Uxarieus in the year 2472.
When they arrive, they are captured by Leeson, a colonist, and taken to the colonists’ main dome where they meet their leader, Robert Ashe. The Doctor realises from the crop records that the colony is in danger of starving to death as all their crops wither and die for no apparent reason.
The Doctor is suspicious and investigates Leeson’s dome. There he confronts a Mark 3 servo robot belonging to the Interplanetary Mining Corporation – IMC.
Its operator, Caldwell, is doing a mineral survey of the planet. He takes the Doctor to the IMC spacecraft where he meets Captain Dent who although he knows the planet has been set aside as a colony is privately determined to exploit the planet as it has heavy deposits of the mineral duralinium which will ensure that IMC’s profits are high.
The episode was first shown on BBC1 on 10th April 1971. It was later made into a book and has recently been republished in video format.
The activities of a large mining company and the presence of a ruined city would suggest that Parys Mountain would be the ideal location for such an episode.
I recently was able to see two small clips from the video version of the program. The ruined city in the back ground did indeed look like the remains of the Mona buildings.
The rough terrain, which was filmed in black and white, did indeed look reminiscent of the great open cast at Parys mountain.
What was even more impressive was a short film clip of a small 4 wheeled vehicle decending down the well-known road into the bottom of the open cast.
Was this the proof we finally needed to substantiate the claims that Dr Who had been recorded at Parys Mountain? It certainly looked like it!
However what do the experts say? The authority on locations used for the filming of Dr Who is Richard Bignell.
“Having consulted the BBC’s production files for this very story over the past year, I can confirm that “Colony in Space” was not actually filmed anywhere near Anglesey.
The filming for this story took place between 10-16 February 1971 at the Old Baal Clay Pit near Carclaze, near St Austell in Cornwall.
This is confirmed by no less than three local newspapers, ‘Cornish Guardian’, ‘The Western Morning Times’ and ‘The West Briton and Royal Cornwall Gazette’.
The BBC documentation indicates that the cast and crew were permanently based for the entire period at a hotel in Newquay and they did not leave the area until the unit returned to London on 17 February.
Having been through all the BBC’s extensive production files for the programme, I can find no trace of any filming for Doctor Who ever having been done at Mynydd Parys or indeed in Anglesey” Regards, Richard Bigell
??? So WHO is correct????
Dewatering of the mountain. By Neil Summers
You cannot have failed to miss all the activity that has been taking place on the mountain in recent weeks.
It started in early April with the arrival of an assortment of cabins, vehicles and equipment on the Amlwch to Rhosybol road.
The first task was to set up a pulley system to allow an electric pump to be lowered down into Gardd Daniel shaft. The water from the pump was then discharged into a gully at the side of the road.
The water runs down the side of the road and then under a road bridge as it makes its way towards Dyffryn Adda. Here it is diverted into some of the old precipitation ponds to allow some settling and pH adjustment before it is pumped again into the Afon Goch.
The water then follows the line of the river and is eventually discharged to the sea, with the rest of the Afon Goch water close to the Great Lakes chemical site.
The quality of the water is monitored every day by engineers working on the project. Samples are also being taken and analysed by the Environmental Agency.
During the first 6 weeks of pumping the water has been clear, with a pH of about 2.5. As you would expect the water contains both copper and zinc and traces of other metals.
The pumps are currently removing around 50 litres per second of water from the mountain. In total around 30 million gallons of water have been pumped. The pumping operation is expected to last a few more weeks.
The most visible effect of the pumping operation has been in the great open cast, where the acidic lake in the bottom has slowly disappeared.
The water has most probably drained out via the Engine shaft that was located in the area. It has left a steeply sloping crater in the bottom of the open cast. The remains of many tyres and other non-metallic objects that have been thrown into the lake over the last few years are now visible.
A large clean-up operation is required in this area and funding is currently being investigated by AIHT.
One of the initial fears of the dewatering operation was that the water level in the mountain may not drop evenly and that some large pockets of water may be held up underground. To this aim a number of the old shafts on the mountain here opened to allow the change in level to be monitored. The good news is that the levels in all the shafts appear to be dropping by an equal amount of about 4 or 5 meters per week.
While the pumping has been taking place the contract engineers have also been tackling the air shafts on the adit level from Dyffryn adda towards Gardd Daniel.
The trees and bushes at the top of some of the shafts has been removed and the shaft exit enlarged to allow stone collars to be fitted. This has then allowed the air shafts to be emptied using a grab. This phase of the work is essential to allow good access to enable the dam to be removed when the pumping phase has been completed.
Poor Oli’s Hole !
We had all grown tired of the 10, 15 and 20 fathom levels. We had seen it all, read the book and got the car sticker.
Deep red pools and bright blue pisante no longer filled us with awe. We passed snotites and stalagmites without a second thought.
Our numbers had dwindled to just a few hardy regulars each week. Some fighting to take a rare visitor on a trip. Some desperate to avoid Neil or Ian’s camera lens.
But all that changed in one short week. There was a rumour around that poor Oli’s hole had begun to dry out.
It was an area of the 15 fathom which was rarely visited. But suddenly it became the number one tourist attraction as everyone wanted to see the first signs of the lowering of the water level in the mountain.
On previous visits a long incline had been discovered which was flooded at the bottom. The water level in this area had now dropped and more of a ladder section was visible.
As Oli had discovered the area many months ago he was allowed to lead the expedition to the bottom of the ladder.
The first night it was discovered that the water level had reduced to below the bottom of the ladder and the top of a passageway was just visible. The following week even more success when it was found possible to enter the passageway.
A short walk lead to a small cross roads. Here in the water the remains of a wheel barrow could just be made out. To the right a short passage lead to a small cavern full of wonderful stalagmites.
However then most intriguing passage way is that which leads straight on.
As Oli is now away for a few weeks it is likely that we will have to wait until he returns before we venture down the passage way!!!
New discoveries in the Mona Mine and some depth measurements in Parys Mine By Oli Burrows
Ever wondered how deep the mine really is?
I recently took down an altimeter and recorded the readings shown in the table below, relative to the entrance door. One should of course remember that the ‘levels ‘set were in fact often not exactly level but slightly inclined so that water would drain naturally – an example of a drainage channel can be seen at the side of the 20 fathom passage running north from the ladder down on the 20 fathom level towards the Grand Stope. Thus the 16 fathom level will not be exactly 16 fathoms throughout. Great precision is therefore pointless, and for convenience my measurements were all taken at the Parys footway intersections.
Nominal Depth (ft.) Measured Depth (ft.) Corrected Depth (ft.)
Mine entrance 0 0 -24
10 fathom -60 -36 -60
16 fathom -96 -69 -93
20 fathom -120 -98 -122
30 fathom -180 -157 -181
45 fathom (base of 90ft stairway) -270 -236 -260
45 fathom (Carreg y doll chamber) -270 -248 -272
Windmill +51 27
Trig point +52 28
It is immediately apparent that my readings are consistently less than the nominal depths. This is clearly due to the mine using a different datum level. By applying a correction of 24ft. a remarkably near match can be obtained. I have heard it said that the mine measured depths relative to the base of the windmill. While this may be true it is clear that the windmill was not the primary datum point (indeed, of course, it was not there until relatively late in the mine’s history) as it is about 50 feet above the Parys Footway entrance.
The primary datum must be somewhere roughly halfway in height between the Footway and the windmill. Ideally it should be on a point with good lines of sight to the rest of the mine, although this is really not essential as a number of secondary datum points (such as the windmill) could be established in different areas.
My first thought was that it was that it might be at the Parys mine yard, but this proves to be slightly lower than the Parys footway entrance. The primary datum was presumably established at an appropriate point early in the mine history, certainly by the start of deep mining and could of course have been covered by later tipping or removed altogether when the Great Opencast was created with secondary datum points being triangulated from it before its disappearance.
The Parys Footway is thought to be relatively late and there is therefore no reason to suppose that it need be in the vicinity of this. Has anybody any thoughts where it might have been?
Turning now to the Mona mine. They used a different datum. Dave Jenkins tells me that this was the Mona adit entrance. Certainly their primary datum was much lower than Parys Mine as they had a +12 fathom level as well as levels going down. This datum would certainly make sense if early workings were centred around the Golden Venture with the Mona adit as the principal access adit to the underground workings.
The importance of accurate surveying becomes apparent when considering the joint drainage level (itself pre 1820) – both mines needed to connect with this while approaching it from opposite sides, and with both having to survey from different external reference points.
We can now access the Mona mine from the joint drainage level, which was the Mona 20 fathom level. Higher levels were at 10 fathoms, zero fathoms and +12 fathoms.
(ft.) Height Relative to 45fm. level Nominal Depth relative to their datum
Carreg y Doll chamber -248 0 0
Foot of Mona ladder (20 fathom) -236 12 0
Sidney Shaft (Mona 10 fathom) -192 56 60
Mona 0 fathom – area 1 -103 145 120
Mona 0 fathom – area 2 -115 133
Henry’s shaft (Mona) -56 192
Mona footway (surface)
From here we climb two ladders lashed together (the lower an original!) to reach an intermediate level about 25ft higher which branches left to Cairns shaft at the level where it is boarded over. This was originally one of the main pumping shafts and continues down to submerged workings. Two pump rods remain leaning against the walls.
To the right of the entrance passage a series of three short ladders and a stone walled ascending passage leads to Sidney Shaft (which is open down to the water level), from which levels run in two directions. This point is measured at 56 feet above the joint drainage level and thus corresponds to the Mona 10 fathom level. Passage through very dubious timbering leads back to Cairns shaft some 40 feet above the boarding, where there is a balance bob (designed to counteract the weight of the pump rods).
Nearby another passage leads on to a further ascending walled section finishing at a short vertical ladder which emerges in a stoped area. Chambers from here extend back down to the 10 fathom level, and also up a steep white slope to a high platform in what turns out to be the base of another chamber.
I first reached this by climbing this unstable slope. However, Dave discovered a convoluted but much more user friendly route to reach the same point. About 10 feet below the level of the platform this route traverses a short length of passage which continues in both directions (partially water filled in one direction) but is as yet unexplored. Depth measurement suggests that this is part of the zero fathom level (labelled area 1 on the table).
Our established route now continues up spoil from the platform to reach a short (15ft.) climb which would benefit from the insertion of a fixed handline. A few feet from the head of this climb is Henry’s Shaft. This shaft (which has not been explored) extends upwards to surface but appears to be boarded not far below – probably at the zero fathom level. The indicated depth at this point is -56ft., or 192 ft. (32fm.) above the joint drainage level. This corresponds well with the +12 fathom level marked on the 1854 mine abandonment plans.
An extensive passage with sections of poor timbering runs westward from this point, eventually reaching a short scramble to a small ladder giving access into a rising passage. From here a scramble up leads to a final steep stone walled and floored passage, the head of which is timbered over. This is the top of the Mona Footway. We are here, literally, within handshaking distance of the surface – in the bottom of the conical depression that Dave Jenkins had already identified as the Mona Footway entrance.
Returning to the +12fm. passageway. At one point along this another passage leads southwards (into deep mud), and beside it a ladder way goes downwards. On our arrival the top ladder was somehow precariously balanced on the second, but fell as soon as DJ touched it (at least that is his story!).
However, further exploration in the area of the Mona Footway gave access to large stopes, and at their base a lower passage, which led back to the foot of these ladders – the point being demonstrated by having parties on both levels. Within a few minutes’ members had demonstrated that despite the missing ladder it was still possible (albeit rather risky) to climb both up and down here between the levels.
Measurement at the foot of the ladder suggests that, as might be expected, this is also part of the zero fathom level (area 2). Initial measurement indicates a difference in height between here and area 1 of around 12 feet, but this may be due to inaccuracies in measurement and possibly some slope on the passages.
From this point passages extend north, south, east and west. South soon becomes a large passage (c. 2m. x 2m.) but end abruptly after about 50m. North continues a considerable distance without significant workings. At present is has been explored as far as a natural dam. Beyond it continues but with deep deposits on the floor and limited headroom above the water. To continue would inevitably damage formations and this has not therefore been pursued. East is about 3 feet deep in water. Although a promising direction, it is well lined with straws and for reasons of conservation has only been explored for about 50m.
In terms of artefacts we have made a few finds – three old bottles by the Mona entrance ladder, the remains of a number of pump rods, at least one of which contains some of its internal workings, a balance bob and box , a round piece of wood provisionally identified as part of a pulley block or sheave near Sidney shaft and perhaps the strangest find of all a 5 foot pipe manifold made of lead.
So far two maulstones have been found just below the Mona footway entrance which have probably come in from surface have been found ,there is no trace of in-situ Bronze Age workings (DJ had hoped that these might be accessible just west of the Mona Footway), however, there are several passageways and chambers with nice formations, and obviously still plenty of scope for further exploration.
All that remains is to tie the Mona depths into the Parys Mine figures. The measured depth of the zero fathom level as around -110ft. relative to the Parys Footway entrance. Unfortunately, surface measurement at the Mona Adit entrance indicates that this is some 162ft. below the same point. So therein lies another problem!