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LLWYNDU COPPER MINE PROCESSING AREA

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 411438

Map Reference SH64NW

Grid Reference SH60594827

Unitary (Local) Authority Gwynedd

Old County Caernarfonshire

Community Beddgelert

Type of Site ORE PROCESSING SITE

Broad Class INDUSTRIAL

Period 19th Century

Site Description Description: An important copper mine with a brief but quite well documented history. It is situated near a summit between Grib Ddu and Bwlch y Sygyn. The evidence on the ground largely substantiates the documentary evidence. By all accounts the mine was relatively successful for a short period, more so than the nearby Sygun or Cwm Bychan mines were during the first half of the 19th century. According to Bick the Sygun works in Nant Gwynant had proved disappointing, and attention was drawn to Llwyndu with encouraging results (Bick, 58). The mine continued with some success for a few years, but by 1844 it was yielding very little ore and was abandoned. It was never re-opened. The site has several well preserved features. Starting from the SW of the site the most significant of these are:

1. A house, probably the manager's or foreman's, rectangular in plan divided internally into three rooms of unequal size the two end ones each having a fireplace. A pair of doors on the N side both leading to the outside gave access, and there are also three windows, one for each room. The internal walls are too ruinous to determine the placing of internal communicating doors. The whole is quite substantially built of large stones set dry but with some external render. It is built into the sloping hillside. Fragments of roofing slate lie around the site. There are no surviving structural timbers. A well trodden path leads down to the main working area.

2. Immediately below and to the N of the house is a level area roughly but evenly paved with large stones. This undoubtedly is the cobbing floor where 20 girls were employed to break the ore (Bick, 59). It is roughly circular in plan about 7m in diameter.

3. Between the cobbing floor and the house is a small area of fine spoil, but to the E is a much larger area consisting of a number of heaps of large rocks all apparently broken and unweathered. Further to the E is another area of fine spoil somewhat larger in area than the first.

4. Within the spoil area at its N side is a small but deep possible sedimentation tank. This is quite neatly built with a short slightly curving paved gulley leading into it. There is no outlet, but presumably water would simply soak away as now leaving behind a residue which could be removed.

5. Separated from the spoil heaps to the S by a path are at the E of the site the two main working adits. High on the steep hillside, the 'Old Workings' in fact the topmost part of the mine consist of a pair of adits one just above the other. At the spoil level is a second adit, presumably that shown as 'adit level' on the 1842 section. Neither explored, one of the top adits containing a breeding pair of choughs when visited by JL (1987). The entrance to the 'adit level' is entered by way of a narrow embanked gulley.

6. Beneath steeply sloping hillside just N of the path and E of the 'adit level' are a pair of structures. The W example possibly being the remains of a simple shelter, the E more roughly built and utilising a crag being possibly a further sedimentation tank.

7. Just above and to the NE of the structures (above) is an unusual kind of flue or furnace. This is thought to have been used for calcining the ore (Bick, 62). It consists of a drystone 'funnel' at the lower end where there is a great deal of evidence of burning, this leads by way of a narrow constriction to a chamber divided longitudinally by a wall. The flue narrows to a single flue as it ascends the steep slope. The whole is covered by slabs of stone which were presumably sealed with turves. 30m - 40m long, 2m wide reducing to 0.4m at the top.

8. Below the flue to its NE is the head of a vertical shaft, that which led to the 20 fathom level (Bick, 59). A few metres W the retaining wall of a horse whim circle about 10m in diameter survives. Just to its S a level area of very fine spoil - perhaps the 'picking floor' of an 1842 drawing. To the E of this area a chute once existed and a 'Dressing House' the remains of which still survive.

In summary: A short lived but very well preserved copper mine processing site with a range of structures. These include the processing floor, the mine manager's house or office, spoil tips, tanks and a calcining flue for extracting arsenic. Nearby to the north east is the shaft where the ore was extracted and the horse whim site that provided the power for raising the extracted ore from the shaft. The whole is associated with the extensive copper mining sites in the area in Cwm Bychan and more notably with the Sygun Copper Mine. The whole site was in use for about 9 years and then abandoned by 1844.

John Latham RCAHMW 16 July 2019

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