«Prepared by Dyfed Archaeological Trust For: Cambrian Mines Trust DYFED ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST RHIF YR ADRODDIAD / REPORT NO. 2013/77 RHIF Y DIGWYLLIAD ...»
2.4 A history of mining 2.4.1 Cwmystwyth belonged to the grange of Strata Florida Abbey, and disputes over leases at the beginning of the 16th century implies the existence of a much earlier interest of the monks in these mines, as does the account provided by Leland of former mining and smelting here, which he recorded on passing through the valley sometime between 1536 and 1538. Leland’s account is suggestive of mining on the Graig Fawr, although there may well also have been lead workings on Copa Hill at this time. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, only Copa Hill was retained by the Crown, thus the earliest mining leases to private speculators (e.g. to Charles Evans and John Hopwood in 1588) relate to the western half of the mine (i.e. land to the west of the Nant yr Onnen). Since the Graig Fawr appears to have been the focus of much of this early interest, the area was soon reclaimed by the newly formed Society of Mines Royal, although leases still appear to have been issued separately for the two halves of the mine.
Successive leases show a continuous interest in Cwmystwyth from the beginning of the 17th century onwards, including that to Sir Hugh Myddleton and Sir Francis Bacon in 1617 (Myddleton became rich through his efforts of mining silver at Goginan and Cwmsymlog). The exact location of all this mining activity at Cwmystwyth remains a mystery. Nevertheless, Morgan Herbert of the Hafod was
tenant in 1699, and for a few years thereafter it seems that he exploited a rich portion of the Kingside Lode (Herbert’s Stope) just to the west of Copa Hill.
2.4.2 Renewed interest was shown in Cwmystwyth from 1704 onwards by the newly formed Company of Mine Adventurers, whose activities in Cardiganshire were carried out by William Waller in partnership with the Neath industrialist Sir Humphrey Mackworth. Much of this work appears to have just been prospection and development, driving adits on Copa Hill (where the focus of activity appears to have been), at Pentrefach and Nantrefach (Pugh’s Mine), and at Pentre and Briwnant above Cwmystwyth village. Although a fair amount of information survives as to this activity, only 580 tons of lead ore are recorded as having been raised. Following the dismissal of Waller from his post and the collapse of the ‘Mine Adventurers’, mining activity here appears to have been minimal, and to some extent illegal, although by 1725 Thomas Powell of Nanteos laid claim to the mine and is recorded as working here in 1725, both on Copa Hill and to the west of the Nant yr Onnen. A general economic revival (and rising lead prices) in 1758-61 coincided with the interest of Chauncey Townsend who engaged the services of a Derbyshire man, Thomas Bonsall, to manage his mining interests here. Bonsall took the lease himself during the mid-1780s, and thereafter carried out considerable underground development work within the area of Pugh’s Mine, Level Fawr, the Penguelan section, and under Copa Hill, for the first time exploiting the abundant deposits of zinc blende, no doubt stimulated by the new demand for this mineral following the perfection of the patent Champion process for zinc in Bristol at the end of the 18th century. Most of the surface remains of hushing also date to this period. Bonsall relinquished Copa Hill in 1791 and thereafter brought the mine into its most successful period, raising about 46 tons per month over the next 10 years, with a reputed income of £2-3000 per annum from Pugh’s and Kingside Mines alone.
2.4.3 From 1807 the lease passed to a local miner Joseph Jones, although from 1811 onwards his activity appears to have been restricted to Copa Hill.
Thereafter, short-lived success followed for a partnership of the Alderson Brothers from Swaledale (1822-34), whilst the continuing rise in metal prices also benefited Lewis Pugh of Aberystwyth who held the lease from 1835-1844. Pugh retained the services of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire miners and raised many thousands of tons of lead ore, chiefly from the western workings (Pugh’s Mine), effectively commencing the first deep workings from the valley floor. Considering the long duration of working the mine, its shallowness at this time (30 fathoms below adit) was unusual - most probably reflecting the still accessible richness of the ore reserves on the Graig Fawr. In 1848 John Taylor & Sons took over the controlling share of the mine and introduced the modern Cornish-style mining practice typical of mid-late Victorian mines in Cardiganshire. Leats were cut, as water power was first harnessed in earnest, and a succession of mine captains including James Raw and from 1870-1880 the Cornishman William Michell who introduced many changes in working practice and much new technology, including compressed air drills, milling machinery and buddles for ore separation.
Yet despite massive investment, the mine still refused to pay, whilst both drought and snow regularly brought pumping and production (now chiefly of zinc ore) to a halt. In 1887 Taylors split the mine in two, concentrating much of their efforts on the central part of the site (Kingside Mine) sinking a new shaft (Taylors Shaft) some 264' below adit (Top Adit). However, in its 5 years of working the Kingside Mine returned only 410 tons of lead ore, a similar amount to that produced by its immediate neighbour the Cwmystwyth Mine to the west.
2.4.4 Mining re-started in 1900 with a lease to Henry Gamman and the Cwmystwyth Mining Co., an event perhaps best remembered for the construction of the timber framed ‘state of the art’ ore dressing and concentrating mill, the remains of which survived on site until its final demolition in 1992. Eleven inch
pipes delivered a 740' head of water from a reservoir on the plateau above the mine to a number of Pelton turbines, one of which generated electricity, the remaining two powering an air compressor plant, a tramway incline, and much of the mill machinery. Despite a production of some 1850 tons of lead and nearly 9000 tons of zinc concentrates Gamman had depleted nearly all of his capital by the end of 1909, and so sold out to Brunner, Mond & Co, retaining a part share of this on account of his initial investment in the mine. Much of the capital invested thereafter continued to be spent on the modernisation of the mine layout as well as in largely unproductive development work. Little real production resulted, and although a considerable amount of prospection and development work continued under the guise of various different companies right up until 1923 (several of them under the management of Hywel Evans), the very last ore return recorded for the mine was of 64 tons lead and 214 tons of zinc ore in 1912. Interestingly enough, the last prospection and development work took place at the eastern end of the Comet (Copper) Lode on Copa Hill, not a stone’s throw from the site of the earliest mining here some 3,700 years before (Timberlake 2012).
2.5 The Cwmystwyth mines have evidence of mining from the Bronze Age through to the 20th century. The site includes extensive surface, shallow buried and below ground remains (through the network of adits, shafts and stopes) associated with mining and ore processing. Apart from the known features identified from visible remains and those recorded on earlier maps, there are likely to be considerably more hitherto unidentified features buried beneath spoil tips or other made ground across the entire site area. These could date from the Bronze Age through to the 20th century.
2.6 The Cwmystwyth site falls within the Upland Ceredigion Registered Historic Landscape (HLC). The Cwmystwyth mines are defined as a specific element within the wider HLC. The historic background is summarised within its description as follows. This historic landscape area has been defined by the mining industry. Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that opencast copper mining was undertaken here in the Bronze Age (Timberlake 1995), and lead has been mined here since at least Roman times (Bick 1974, 19-23; Hughes 1981). Metal was probably worked under the control of Strata Florida Abbey in the Middle Ages as this area lay within Cwmystwyth Grange. In the 18th century prospecting for lodes by scouring the surface of the ground by a sudden rush of water - hushing - was practised, and the channels and reservoirs of this process can still be seen. Metal mining in the 18th and 19th centuries has bequeathed a
bewildering array of remains, an industrial archaeologist’s paradise, including:
tips, shafts, tramways, inclines, open-casts, crusher houses and other buildings.
In the late 19th century the search for blende resulted in the construction of a large crusher house - the rusting remains of which have only recently been swept away - and other installations. Work finally ceased at Cwmystwyth in 1921.
2.7 Its description and essential historic landscape components are described thus. This area, which is entirely defined by industrial archaeology, lies across the valley sides and the valley floor of the Ystwyth. The valley here has a deep Ushaped profile, with the floor at 300m and the sides rising to over 500m. The sides are craggy, even cliff-like on the northern side. The many scree slopes are more likely to be a result of mining than a natural process. Mining remains are everywhere. These are varied and most are of a robust character. Remains of stone built structures in this area – domestic and industrial are scattered across the landscape. Many are in a perilous condition. Recorded archaeology comprises remains directly associated with the metal mining industry, including finds of Roman date, or remains indirectly associated with the industry such as abandoned worker cottages.
3 PREVIOUS WORKS AND STUDIES AT THE CWMYSTWYTH MINESSITE
3.1 Archaeological and Historical Studies and Reports 3.1.1 The archaeological and historical significance of the Cwmystwyth Mines site is such that it has been the subject of numerous studies and surveys. Many of these are published, but there is also a considerable amount of information held in archives (including personal archives) that would benefit from being collated.
3.1.2 As noted above in the section by Simon Timberlake perhaps the main historical study of the site was published in 1981 by Simon Hughes (with more recent revisions). Further summaries were provided by Timberlake and Hughes for inclusion in the Early Metallurgical Sites publication edited by Blick (2000).
3.1.3 Robert Protheroe-Jones, Curator of Heavy Industry at the National Museum of Wales, has extensive surveys of the below-ground elements of the mine which he has been surveying for very many years. It is intended that this information will be published in the longer term. The Ceredigion Metal Mines Survey of the mid-1990s was also undertaken by Robert Protheroe-Jones which identified numerous individual structures and features within the Cwmystwyth Mines site. This survey is constantly being updated and is in the process of another revision.
3.1.4 Archives of information are held by the RCAHMW including numerous photographs (both site shots and aerial photographs); site surveys carried out by RCAHMW and Lampeter University in 1993; newspaper cuttings; and other archaeological reports prepared for the site. The National Primary Record Number for the site is NPRN 115. Other studies related to the site commissioned by the RCAHMW include the recent Upland Initiative Cwm Ystwyth – Cwm Mwyro Archaeological Survey by Trysor.
3.1.5 The Dyfed Archaeological Trust Historic Environment Record (HER) holds numerous photographs of the site and copies of the majority of reports written on the mines. The HER also holds copies of all of the individual records made for the site through the Metal Mines surveys by Robert Protheroe Jones. In total there are 249 sites recorded on the HER within the area owned by the CMT. As noted in the previous section, this only includes the known sites and there are likely to be many more structures hidden beneath spoil and made ground across the site area. The records do not include individual structures, features or finds in the below ground works.
3.1.6 Former projects on the archaeology and history of the area, including Cwmystwyth, include the work done for The Spirit of the Miners project through Ceredigion County Council and Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales).
3.2 Geological, Environmental and Ecological Studies 3.2.1 Apart from archaeological and historical studies there are also reports on the geology of the area, such as that by David James (2001 & 2006) and earlier surveys by the British Geological Survey. Further studies were done as part of the Spirit of the Miner’s project (Mason 2008), much based on his earlier work (Mason 1997).
3.2.2 Numerous ecological studies have been undertaken of the site, including bat surveys and other reports and studies which have supported the various environmental designations within which the Cwmystwyth Mines site lies. These include a number of bat surveys by Dr Robert Stebbings, Tom McOwat and Richard Crompton and lichen surveys by Steve Chambers.
4 SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENT CD145 - COPA HILL/
CWMYSTWYTH LEAD, COPPER AND ZINC MINES
4.1 CD145 – Copa Hill/ Cwmystwyth Lead, Copper and Zinc Mine Designation 4.1.1 The Cwmystwyth Mines site has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument as it is recognised as being an archaeological site of national importance. It comprises mining activity confirmed to date from the Bronze Age through to the 20th century. The scheduled site is one of the largest in Wales, covering an area of 0.96 square kilometres (Figure 3). The CMT owned land covers all of the SAM area. The purpose of scheduling is to ensure the long-term preservation of the site.
4.1.2 In summary the scheduled area comprises all known mine workings at Cwmystwyth on the northern side of the road, with a small part on the southern of the road around Pugh’s adit and the adjacent building. It includes all the workings on Copa Hill following the steep valley sides of the Nant Yr Onnen. The scheduling covers all remains at the site both above and below ground (the mine workings) and all features and artefacts therein. It includes all known remains and those that are yet to be discovered.