- Education and Science
Silver Mining in Ancient Britain.
Britain has always been a land of great opportunities and a land of plenty. This what made Britain a highly desirable Island between 500 BC and 1066 AD. In my previous Hub Britain's lost gold mine I mentioned area's of the British Isles that had been worked by the indigenous population. Almost all UK Gold extraction had traditionally taken place in the in North Wales and Scotland.
There is only very limited amounts of Gold in the rest of the British Isles. The only other area which could be a viable location for commercial mining of Gold is parts of Devon as it is on the same seam that carries on through Wales and Scotland's old mines. If Gold is not a viable mining option, what about Silver? We know from historical sources that the refined Silver ingots that were sent from Wales and sent all over the Roman Empire for minting.
Location of English silver mines
Silver had been mined in the British Isles extensively over the years, there is much more Silver in the United Kingdom than there is Gold. There have been prominent mines South of Tavistock in Devon which used deep mine shafts to collect the Silver ore in the Medieval period of History. There are remains there still which show us of the methods of extraction our ancestors used.
The Bere Ferrers mines totalled four individual mines at their peak, and these mines produced the majority of England's Silver needs until the Welsh Silver mines took over the burden of production. The English Silver mines in Cornwall lacked the expertise to refine the ore initially, it was only with adapting methods that the Devon mines could produce good quality English Silver. Much of the workforce in the Berre Ferrers mines was effectively press gang miners, the Cornish Tin miners had a better standard of working conditions.
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As a general rule, where you find lead you will find Silver. As I stated earlier Britain has more Silver reserves than Gold. The majority of the reserves are like the Gold reserves situated in Cornwall, Wales and Scotland. This is due to the seams of rock which lay under these countries, The Islands that lay off the Western Scottish coast such as Sark produce a fair amount of workable Silver ore per year. When the Normans conquered the British Isles they inherited a lot of small Silver mines in the north of England.
These mines stretched from Durham across the Pennines and onto Carlisle. There are many Silver mines that have been lost to time in the Yorkshire/ Lancashire area. Maybe there is potential for these mines to be opened on a small industrial scale in the future. But the hard part is tracking down the mines that operated over 900 years ago, and checking if they are still viable.
Rural area's of Great Britain will hold the largest reserves of Silver but mining for the precious metal will cost money and spoil the landscape of these picturesque area's. With the price of a troy ounce continuing to rise, the benefits of mining will ultimately overcome any negative feelings about the practice. In these times of economic woe, exploiting the vast mineral reserves under our feet seems a logical step.