The Parys Mountain penny was first struck in 1787 and continued in various forms (and a number of forgeries) until 1817. Halfpennies were also made. It is believed that altogether over 10 million coins were issued.
|Parys Mountain - A Special Place|
Features of Parys Mountain
1: THE GREAT OPENCAST
This impressive chasm was opened up at an early stage of mining after the collapse of earlier under- ground workings reached by numerous shallow shafts. It was a feature much marvelled at by visitors and has been recorded in several early paintings. These show projecting platforms with windlasses, and miners working the ore from the sides, suspended on ropes.
Most of this opencast was worked by the Parys Mine, the smaller "Hillside Opencast" to the east being worked by the Mona Mine. The opencasts represent only a small proportion of the mine as later extraction occurred through shafts that reached depths of 300m, some 130m below sea level and now therefore flooded. Since the rocks dip steeply to the north, most of these deeper underground workings are located between the Opencast and the main road over the mountain.
The small lake at the bottom results from the damming of a deep level draining to the north. The water is very acidic (sulphuric acid - pH 2) and so corrosive that pumps, etc., had to be made from oak, not iron. Its orange-brown colour is due to the very high concentrations of iron (ferric - in solution) leached from weathering sulphide minerals, as indeed do the range of yellows, reds and purples in the spoil. This dramatic scene has been used in numerous films from "Dr Who" to, most recently, "Mortal Kombat 2".
2: The MINEYARDS
The buildings on the south side of the Opencast are the remains of the Mona Mineyard. This group of offices, smithy and stores, surrounding a courtyard, was the focus of the mine's surface activities. Here miners bought their tools, candles and explosives from the Mona Mine company, and bid in small groups at auctions for "bargains" to work underground sections of the mine for a fortnight.
The equivalent mineyard for the Parys Mine is at the south west corner of the Opencast, but its buildings are in a more ruinous state.
3: THE PRECIPITATION PONDS
These brick-lined precipitation ponds were used to to extract copper from water which was pumped up up to the mountain top and allowed to drain down through the spoil and underground workings (i.e. "sparging" ), dissolving copper from the rocks on the way. The water was collected in these ponds and scrap iron was added. As a result of chemical reactions, the iron then dissolved whilst the copper was deposited as a black powder and could be removed for processing. This proved to be a very efficient way of recovering small amounts of relatively pure copper.
Dissolved iron itself then reacted with the air and precipitated as an orange-brown sludge or "ochre", a valuable by-product marketed as a pigment.
4: PEARL ENGINE HOUSE
This distinctive building, prominent on the skyline at the east end of the mountain, once housed a Cornish Beam Engine. It was one of the earliest steam engines in north Wales, being installed in 1819 to pump water from the adjacent 230m Pearl shaft. Its chimney stood at the north west corner, but sadly it collapsed some years back. In front are the remains of a capstan pit used to raise and lower the oak pump rods in the shaft. The building is currently being conserved by the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust with financial aid from Cadw.
5: CHARLOTTE YARD
In this large area of spoil, just to the north of the mass of hard quartz-rich rock known as "Carreg y Doll", traces of a "dressing" or "cobbing floor" can be seen in the form of a cobbled surface, sadly now much reduced by the removal of spoil for roadstone. This is where the ore from Mona Mine was broken up into small pieces by the famous "Copar Ledies" (Morwynion Amlwch) using an iron flat hammer, and protecting their fingers with iron rings. The ore fragments were then picked out by children and roasted in large heaped kilns for up to 3 months, filling the air with fumes.
6: The WINDMILL and OXEN QUARRY
Built in 1878 on the summit of Parys Mountain, in the hope of reducing operating costs, the windmill was used to pump water from the underlying mine workings. It was later connected to a steam engine at the nearby 270m deep Cairns shaft by a system of reciprocating wooden rods ("flat rods"), the remains of which could clearly be seen during the early part of this century. The windmill was unique amongst the many on Anglesey in that it had five sails.
To the north lies Oxen Quarry which owes its name to annual celebrations of the first major rediscovery of rich copper ores on March 2nd 1768. On this day the people of Amlwch were treated to a roasted oxen. Within this quarry, the early miners discovered "ancient" spoil tips. These contained rounded stones, or "mauls", that had been used as hammers, and charcoal from "firesetting", an early technique used to shatter rock before black powder explosives became available in the 18th century. The charcoal has been dated by carbon-14 to nearly 2000 years B.C. The history of copper mining on the mountain thus goes back to the Early Bronze Age, making it one of the earliest mines known in Britain.
7: The MODERN MINE
The 4000 years of mining history continues today. Anglesey Mining plc was formed in 1984 to explore and develop the Parys Mountain property. In 1988 it raised �5.5 million and sank a shaft to a depth of 300m with more than 1 km of underground tunnelling. Over 2,000 tonnes of ore were mined, processed and sold, but development was halted by poor market conditions.
Geological investigation recommenced in 1995 and led to further drilling from surface in 1997 with the objective of increasing the company's current resource of 6.5 million tonnes at a combined grade of >10% zinc (the principle product), copper, lead, silver and gold. The planned mine would require over 100 employees and should operate for more than 15 years. Ore would be extracted from 80-600m below surface, concentrated in a processing plant and then despatched to a smelter. The shaft headframe can be seen from the path back.
|Parys Mountain - A Special Place|
|Anglesey Mining plc
Parys Mountain, Amlwch,
Anglesey, LL68 9RE, UK
|Phone +44 1248 361333