Historic Landscape Characterisation

Amlwch – Area 9 Mines PRN 28649

Parys Mountain



Historical background

An extensive copper mine situated on Parys Mountain , a ridge 147m high to the south of the port town of Amlwch ; its workings and multi-coloured waste tips dominate the mountain and the surrounding area. The mine was worked both as an opencast and underground. It has been extensively studied by historians and archaeologists.

Its origins lie in the Early Bronze Age, when underground levels were worked on the northern part of the site. There is circumstantial evidence for Roman and Medieval working but the mines only became active in the 1760s with the re-discovery of low-grade copper-ore near the surface. The substantial opencasts are creations of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; thereafter increasingly ore was won from shafts, generally horse-wound, though in some instances steam plant was used. Steam and wind-power was also used for pumping. Ore was calcined on site.

Deep mining effectively ceased in the 1880s, though exploration continues under the auspices of Anglesey Mining plc, a subsidiary of the Imperial Metals Corporation of Vancouver . The head-frame stands over a shaft sunk in 1988.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Historic mining landscape

The area is defined by the two great quarries near the summit of the ridge, which date from the closing years of the eighteenth century, and result from a policy of deliberately collapsing the underground workings opened since 1768. The need to follow the veins deeper underground led to the construction of the two most prominent standing buildings on the site, both of which operated underground pumps. The engine-house near the north-eastern limit of the site (SH 447 907) dates from 1819, and is believed to be the oldest surviving example in Wales to be built for a Cornish beam engine. The windmill tower at the summit of the mountain was installed in 1878 as an auxiliary to an adjacent steam pump engine, and is the single most prominent landmark on the mountain, visible over a considerable distance. No machinery survives in either structure.

Other surviving buildings on the mountain are the offices of the two companies which operated the mine in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The quadrangular Mona Mine yard was in existence by 1786. Now extremely dilapidated, it once contained a smithy, lime-store, wagon shed, furnace, carpenter's shops, assay office, stables, a turnery and a place for the bier. Of the Parys Mine yard even less remains, but it seems to have been laid out in a similar way.

The sites of calcining kilns are also evident at a number of locations, visible as vivid pink craters, the condensation chambers as two parallel stone walls a few feet apart, in between which is a profuse growth of heather.

Underground workings are accessible at several points, though known shaft-sites were capped in the 1970s.

The mine includes the Mynydd Parys SSSI, split up into fourteen discrete locations, and several Scheduled Ancient Monuments, including the Great Opencast, the windmill and the Pearl engine house.




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