In the 18th century, Mynydd Parys Mountain was the largest copper mine in the world. However, its history goes back over 4000 years to the Bronze Age.
Thomas Williams was a local solicitor in the 18th century whose manufacturing processes saw him sell the copper to the British Navy and through further processing, copper sheets [sheaths] were made and introduced to protect the naval fleets ships from timber worm and barnacle growth. This decision / invention turned out to be decisive as it also made the ships far more manoeuvrable and sea worthy in comparison to their counterparts i.e French and the Spanish. Well-known characters of this period are of course Nelson and HMS Victory.
Thomas Williams’ manufacturing processes saw him sell the copper to the British Navy and through further processing; copper sheets [sheaths] were made and introduced to protect the naval fleet’s ships from timber worm and barnacle growth. This decision / invention turned out to be decisive as it also made the ships far more manoeuvrable and sea worthy in comparison to their counterparts i.e French and the Spanish.
However, what is there to see today? The self-guided walk around the surface will show you a unique, colourful, lunar landscape and some fascinating industrial ruins.
The route takes you past a large deep excavation where the copper was carved out of the ground. If you look closely, you can see the remains of the Volcano at its heart. It is the mineral, which spewed out of this volcano, which was mined many years later.
It is known that mining took place here over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age but most activity took place from 1768 after `The Great Discovery.
Roland Pugh a local miner stumbled on a large deposit of copper ore and it is from here that the story really takes off. It was from this point where we had our own equivalent to the Gold Rush, the Welsh Copper Rush, when people came from all parts of the UK, particularly from Derbyshire and Cornwall, hoping to make their fortune at the largest copper mine in the world.
However it was not only men and boys who worked at the mountain. The rock rich in ore once raised to the surface was further processed by the woman and children of the day, who became known as the “Copper Ladis”. These were women and young girls who chipped away the waste rock surrounding the ore.
Michael Faraday visited in 1819 and described the mines thus: –
“Here the vein had swelled out into a bunch in the way I just now mentioned and had afforded a very rich mass of ore. Here again it became very narrow and we had in one corner to lay down on our backs and wriggle in through rough slanting opening not more than 12 or 14 inches wide. The whole mountain being above us and threatening to crush us to pieces.”
These days many of the underground entrances have been sealed but you can still safely follow the self-guided trails around the surface.
Parys Mountain is located just 2 miles from the Copper Kingdom centre and is open all year. There is a free car park and a self-guided marked walking trail.
To get the most from your walk we would recommend that you take time to visit the Copper Kingdom Centre in Amlwch port so that you can put true meaning to the experience that you’ve had.
It is less than 10 minutes drive or a 45 minutes walk.
Old mine workings can be dangerous and so it is important that you stay on the path and keep children and dogs under control. There is no shelter on the mountain so be prepared for bad weather and wear walking boots. It will take around 90 minutes to complete the full trail.
Parys Underground Group control access to around 5 km of old tunnels and workings under the mountain. Access to the old workings is dangerous and should not be attempted. For this reason, it is important that visitors to the surface stay on the designated paths.
For more information about the mountain visit www.parysmountain.co.uk