Britain's Lost Roman Gold Mines.
The Roman Invasion of Ancient Britain
When the Roman Empire under Julius Augustus Caesar decided on the conquest of the British Isles in 44 BC they did so for a number of reasons. They obviously wanted to expand the boundaries of their empire. After all what is an empire if you don`t wish to control everything and everybody within it? They may have also wanted to increase their trading monopoly in the north-western parts of Europe. They definitely wanted to defeat the British tribes as they had a fearsome reputation in Europe. Rome had already suffered many years of battle with the Gauls, who shared a close link with their British cousins. Another reason for conquest was the ancient pagan religion practised in the British Isles, this was not in keeping with accepted Roman forms of worship and needed to be crushed.
The main reason why Britain was a ripe and juicy target for invasion, was the wealth of raw materials that the territory had at its disposal. The British Isles had plenty of good quality farmland, an abundance of trees and stone for the construction of population centres. But, more importantly, the British Isles also had a wealth of useful ore for either the Roman war machine or for the Roman elites to cherish. There were good amounts of useful metals such as silver, tin and gold within the untamed landscape..
Rome Needed Raw Materials
Ancient Rome and the Welsh Gold Mines
The richest place in Great Britain for finding gold deposits has always been within the principality of Wales. Welsh gold is a very pure gold and is highly sort after. The British royalty always ensured that their wedding bands were made from pure Welsh gold and it is a tradition that has survived since the 1500s. In recent times, the gold mines in Wales do not operate on a massive scale like they do in the rest of the world. And it is this that makes Welsh gold quite rare and of course very desirable. Of course, when something is rare. It always adds to the prestige and actual value of the luxury good.
Today in the British Isles, we have chosen to import gold from far flung countries like Australia, Canada, Ghana, South Africa, the USA and China. This is because we do not have the vast natural reserves of these other countries.
The historic British Empire before the 1700s was reliant on its own gold reserves to supply the Royal Mint to create their own coinage. With the start of colonialism and true world trade. The burden was eased on the United Kingdoms own natural resources.
Most of the Welsh gold mines where set amid ancient wooded hillsides overlooking the Cothi Valley. About two thousant years ago, the occupying Roman Empire exploited the natural richness of ore in the area and put the remote outpost on the Imperial Roman map. Although it is entirely likely that the indigenous peoples had small scale mining operations stretching far back rich back into the bronze age. The Romans took over the mines and introduced more modern technologies to gain a higher level of output. The Romans drafted in workers from all over the British Isles and other parts of the Roman Empire to service and maintain the mines.
After the Roman occupation had ended, the mines fell into a poor state and suffered sporadic use. As a consequence of this, they left us behind a glimpse of their gold mining techniques. Their extraction methods and the conditions that the workers had to endure had pretty much continued unchanged deep into the Victorian era.
The Raw Material From the Lost Mines
Precious Metals in the UK.
You may have noticed there has been a marked increase of 'Cash for Gold' offers spread across all forms of media.This is because the price of gold has increased steadily over the last decade. Due to the continued increase in the price of gold, it had been reported that the United Kingdoms last workable goldmine in central Scotland may reopen. Exploration work is under way to uncover the true amount of gold available and the level of purity it holds. If the yields are good and viable at the Cononish mine, near the village of Tyndrum in central Scotland. It is entirely likely that we may see the ancient gold mine reactivated or at least made a tourist attraction to tempt gold prospectors to chance their luck in a limited gold rush.
Independent analysts are forecasting that there could be an output of over 150,000 ounces of gold left to mine, and this would be over an eight year period.The same experts predict that 500,000 ounces of silver could still be mined from the same mineral deposits. Permission to commence commercial gold production has yet to be granted by the Crown Estate who owns the rights to most of the gold in the United Kingdom.
A Gold Mine
Gold in Britain
Other areas which may be the next likely to be surveyed and exploit include parts of Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall. In the days before global trade it is likely these areas added to the precious metals mined from Wales and Scotland. These locations supplied the early royal mint with the gold to produce the coins of the realm. I do wonder how much of the United Kingdom's gold reserves has been mined. It is very hard to find written records of old disused goldmines in Great Britain.
Once a goldmine is thought to be obsolete, it is abandoned and after a while. It is often set-up to extract other precious metals. In my research I searched for place names which may hold a clue to where gold may have been mined within England. I would have expected all surface gold reserves to have been depleted my our ancestors. Still there is a part of me that believes that in some forgotten corner of Britain, there are vast reserves just waiting to be discovered. Britain may have more value than it is given credit for. Gold has held an attraction for us since the days of Ancient Egypt, and it seems forever linked to the wealth and prosperity of nations and individuals.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Andrew Stewart