Mining has taken place here since Roman times, and in the 18th and 19th centuries a huge, mainly hand-dug, opencast mine developed, extracting ores containing copper, iron, zinc, lead, silver and gold. Copper was by far the most important of these, and the little port of Amlwch became a world leader in the market, it's harbour crammed with shipping.

The bottoms of Nelson's ships were sheathed with copper, protecting them from the growth of barnacles and seaweed, and enabling them to slip more smoothly through the water - to England's great advantage at Trafalgar.
The phrase "copper-bottomed" entered the language, as did "Red Sails in the Sunset" - a reference to the by-product ochre [iron oxide], used as a paint to protect sail canvas.

Today the site is protected by the Countryside Council for Wales and is a moonscape of extraordinary colours; few plants manage grow in the inhospitable ground, leaving the exposed shales and spoil heaps a rival for any box of pastels.
[One wonders how long this will be the case, as world demand for copper for the IT revolution increases]

Kezia Noel-Paton:


Leave a comment

(Will not be published)