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Title: Ysbryd y Mwynwyr - Spirit of the Miners
Waterwheel at LlywernogYstrad EinionWheelhouse, Bryn yr Arian
 

Development of Mining


• Mining in Ceredigion can be traced back to the Bronze Age. Over time, the main metals produced were Lead, Zinc & Silver with a small amount of copper and Barytes.
• The mining process was known as “ore getting” and involved the removal of material from steep sided fissures (mineral veins) in the rock. Originally the mines would have been open surface workings, possibly for copper, where the ease of extraction would predominate over the quantity of ore available.



• The Roman occupation brought a demand for lead and could have been the introduction of the method of driving horizontal tunnels - known as adits.
• Adits are used for access, drainage, and ore getting. The hilly terrain of mid-Wales made this easier.
• Where a tunnel is driven underground to link shafts without breaking to surface it is known as a level.
• Mining for metallic ores is sometimes known as “hard rock mining” and as the name suggests involves the removal of ore material from hard rock.
"Pit Props"



• As the miners worked through hard rock most of the levels being driven were self-supporting and did not require “pit props” as used in coal mining - except where a level hit bad ground.
• If the level follows a vein, it is known as a “drive” or “drift”.




• In a “drive” or “drift” material can be removed both from above and below the level. Where material has been removed from above, the empty space is often backfilled with waste rock supported on timbers. Timbers were wedged into the rock to bridge the level just above walking height. Where material has been removed from below, a timber “false” floor will have been put in to keep the level passable. Over time these timbers will go rotten, causing collapses.



• Timbering and backfilling were also used in stopes. Waste rock could be put to good use helping to support the sides or “cheeks” of the stope rather than having to tram it out of the mine for dumping. This would also form a convenient working platform for the miners.
• The area where the mineral vein being mined is known as a “stope”, and sometimes has the appearance of a huge underground chasm. Sometimes these can break surface and are then known as a “gunnis”.
• Many of the earlier surface workings were deepened over time to form shafts and as ore was extracted, deepened even further with more levels being driven to connect with them from lower ground.
• Eventually, shafts became so deep it was not practicable to drain them naturally from levels. Shafts would then have to be pumped and wound mechanically.