Following the ‘Great Discovery’ of 1762 for a short while Parys Mountain (the Parys
and Mona Mines) were amongst the largest producers of copper in Europe.
The Great Opencast
(Parys Mine) today
Carreg y ddol windmill for scale
Photo copyright D.Jenkins
The earliest reference to finds of hammer stones, ancient workings and the remains
of brushwood fires at the top of the mountain (within an area since lost to collapse
inside of the Great Opencast) is to be found within the ‘Journal of a Tour in Wales
1796’ by Christopher Sykes of Sledmere, Yorks.
In 1937 Oliver Davies investigated old workings within the area of the windmill and
identified ancient tips with hammer stones and charcoal just to the north of here
close to the site of the Oxen Quarry (Chwarel yr Eigion). Davies’ trench was re-discovered
by the EMRG during the summer of 1988, and the subsequent excavation of a 10 m diameter
sub-circular spoil mound provided a selection of stone tools plus three radiocarbon
dates of between 2050 and 1690 yrs cal BC from the associated charcoal layers.
Access was made available to cavers to examine the 19th century underground workings
via. the Parys Footway Shaft in 1995. Following this two more areas of Early Bronze
Age mining became accessible within stope workings leading off from the 16 and 20
fathom levels. Four underground sections have now been recorded by David Jenkins
and a further ten Early Bronze Age radiocarbon dates plus some important environmental
evidence have been obtained from a number of these sites (Jenkins 2003).
It would seem therefore that the prehistoric miners sunk inclined drifts or opencuts
to a depth of up to 100 feet from surface in order to extract the copper ore.
Survey work has been carried out by Dr. David Jenkins, underground on the North Discovery
Lode, identifying the sites of prehistoric mining.