History

A Golden Age

Group of Roman soldiers © National Trust

Group of Roman soldiers

Dolaucothi gold mines are the only known Roman gold mines in the whole of the UK. Skilled men worked the mines, diverting water from the hills above the site to wash away waste rock, leaving the heavier gold behind. They sent the gold to be made into coins at the Imperial Mint at Lyon.

A long history

The Roman invasion

The Romans were the first to exploit the Gold veins at Dolaucothi © National Trust/Peter Sword

Although it's possible Dolaucothi was mined prior to 70 AD, strong evidence suggests that the Romans were the first to explore our Welsh landscape to search for gold.

Back in business

Mine yard today © National Trust/Peter Sword

After the Romans left, the mine was disused for hundreds of years. It was revived in Victorian times and was in full swing in the 1930s. The mine closed in 1938 but gold remains hidden inside the labyrinth of mines and rock formations.

Tools for the job

A birds-eye view of the gold mine at Dolaucothi © Keith Morris

With gold prices freed from the constraints of the gold standard, which the United Kingdom abandoned in 1931, mining at Dolaucothi became an attractive proposition once again.

Family seat

On one of the walks at Dolaucothi

The Johnes family gave the Dolaucothi estate to the National Trust in 1941. It covers 2,500 acres and includes not just the mines but a large upland farming estate. This includes nine tenant farms and 24 tenant cottages.

The sad story of Ned Lions

1930s miners at Dolaucothi

1930s miners at Dolaucothi

Ned was a Dolaucothi miner who worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week in the 1930s. It is said that  one cold winter's day, Ned was lowered into the ore pass to excavate long adit at Dolaucothi Gold Mines.

An hour or so into the shift, Ned's candle, his only source of light began to dim and eventually went out. Ned yelled and shouted for help, but there was no reply.

Hours passed and still no one heard Ned cry for help. He was cold and hungry and so decided to climb the unsteady rock face. He knew it was dangerous, especially because he was completely blind in the darkness and his hands were numb with cold. He managed to scramble up about half-way, when his foot dislodged some loose rock and poor Ned fell to the bottom.

At the end of the shift, the drams rolled out of long adit and Ned's size nine boot was found. The miners searched the ore pass for Ned but he was never found. To this day, some say they still hear his groans for help echo through the gold mine.

Legends of the stone at Dolaucothi

There are many myths and legends surrounding the Old Stone of Pumsaint at Dolaucothi.

The stone can be found just to the left of the Goldmine. What will you believe?

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