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LLANYMYNECH OGOF

Its HISTORY, EXPLORATION, FOLKLORE, UNDERGROUND REMAINS and SURFACE REMAINS.

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LOCATION

1 mile west of Pant (SJ266222)

MINERALS

Copper, Lead and Zinc

WORKING LIFE

Known working life : Bronze Age-19th century

HISTORY

Llanymynech Hill lies five miles south-west of Oswestry and the summit is  just over the Welsh border in Powys. The most obvious feature today is the  disused quarry face but the hill was once extensively mined for copper, lead and  zinc. Most of the hill is now part of a golf course but some mine entrances and  spoil heaps have escaped being "landscaped". One of the entrances is called "The  Ogof" [Welsh for cave] and this could be one of the earliest sites of mining in  the county.

There were two forts on the hill dating from the Bronze Age and excavations  have revealed that copper smelting took place here. Copper is one of the main  components of bronze and it would have been visible on the hill as a green stain  in the rock. It thus seems very likely that copper was mined here, initially in  surface pits and later in small underground passages.

It has already been proved elsewhere in Britain that copper was mined as  far back as the Bronze Age, using primitive antler and bone picks to prize open  cracks in the rock made by firesetting. This technique involved lighting a fire  against the rock, causing it to expand with the heat. When water was thrown  against it, the rock suddenly contracted and split. Copper would originally have  been dug out of deep trenches but when the deposit became too deep, it had to be  followed underground. Examples of small hand-picked passages have been found in  and near to the Ogof and part of a deer antler was found in one, possibly a  broken pick. When the Romans arrived in the area, they found an existing copper  mining industry and quickly exploited the Ogof for their own use. They would  have had engineers with experience in other Roman mines and this allowed them to  develop the workings in a more logical pattern. Mining was basically the same  with firesetting and picking, although they used iron picks and wooden shovels  with iron tips. Copper ore was placed in small wicker baskets and dragged out  along the low passages. Slaves would have been used as miners and labourers and  these would rarely see the light of day, being kept imprisoned in the mine. The  lack of basic hygiene and ventilation would probably mean that the slaves did  not lead long lives. Over the years, a great many Roman artefacts have been  found in the mine including a hoard of silver coins found by some schoolboys.  Another strange feature has been the discovery of burials in and around the mine  and bones may still be found amongst the rubble on the floor.

After the Romans left, the next period of activity was in the 12th century.  Most people have heard how King Richard I went to the Crusades and was captured  in 1193 on his return. Hubert Walter, the Bishop of Salisbury, had accompanied  Richard and returned to England as one of the commissioners to raise money for  his ransom. In his efforts to raise the required 100,000, he examined all  possibilities and heard of the discovery of silver at the Carreghwfa Mine on  Llanymynech Hill [lead ore containing silver occurs in the vicinity of the  Ogof]. The Bishop decided to develop the mine and re-open the mint at Shrewsbury  to refine the silver and make it into coins. To protect the mine, the nearby  castle at Carreghwfa was repaired and provided with a garrison of troops.  Despite the work that was carried out between 1194-95, very little silver was  refined from the mine and the whole venture made a net loss.

Later mining took place on the hill for lead and zinc but this must be one of  the earliest mine sites in Shropshire and, with the ransom connection, perhaps  the most fascinating. The hill again became notorious in the 1850s when a mining  company duped its shareholders. This was a common occurrence in the 19th century  but it is amazing how shareholders never seemed to learn their lesson.  Basically, a mining engineer would be paid to write a glowing report on the mine  and the public encouraged to buy shares. The minimum capital possible would be  spent on the mine and the rest went in fees and expenses to the directors. They  could get away with it for a few years by saying that the mine needed to be  developed before producing a profit. When the bubble burst, the directors would  disappear!

extract from "Mining in Shropshire", Adrian Pearce, 1995

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EXPLORATION OF THE HILL

Other than the miners themselves, a number of people have visited the mine  workings over the last 200 years. The following is a summary of these visits and  their impression of the workings themselves, any references they made to finds  are covered elsewhere in this publication. It is apparent how the differing  attitudes lead to varying descriptions.

The first recorded visit was by a Gwallter Mechain in 1795, "... In some  places the whole face of the rock is covered with calcareous incrustations part  of which is in the process of being converted into a substance similar to 'lac  lunae' or mineral agaric. Petrified shells of various genera are found here".

The next was by J.Dovaston during the early 19th century, "... The entrance  for 15 yards is high, but afterwards a person must stoop very low, and sometimes  even crawl. It contains many sinuosities, sometimes but a yard, and generally  about three yards wide; having many turnings and passages connected with each  other; so that a ball of thread, or chalk is necessary for the facility of a  return. None of the paths go more than 200 yards from the place of entry ... It  is now seldom explored farther than the mouth, which is of considerable extent,  dark and dismal; the entrance is overhung by the stump and branches of a Wych  Elm, and great fragments have in many places fallen from the roof ... The  passages are cut through the rock, which is of red limestone ... everywhere  appear :-

'.........the inner vaults of the rude cavern,
Green with copper tinge,  where pendant glisten,
Curled stalactites, like frozen snakes,
Where  leathery crust and vegetable film,
Hoar with their fungus fringe the dripping  roof'

... The water that drops in some parts of this cave, is of a petrifying  quality, and forms stalactites, resembling very long icicles, which on being  touch, ring with a brilliant sound; and drops of water hanging on the point of  each, catch the light of the candle, and give the surrounding space a glittering  illumination extremely beautiful, and in a variety of colours".

All traces of the Wych-Elm which formerly overhung the entrance have now  vanished. His statement about great fragments fallen from the roof is open to a  certain amount of question. While this is not impossible, there being a number  of boulders in both Mandible and the Shaft Chamber which may have fallen, the  survey generally has produced few signs of roof collapse and the ceiling appears  to be in excellent condition. His dimensions are slightly exaggerated but, if  one considers that these were more likely to be paces and not yards, they are  probably reasonably accurate. His suggestion about the ball of thread or chalk  seems unecessary today, as it would be difficult to lose oneself in the Ogof. It  must be remembered, however, that his sole illumination was that of a flickering  candle which, in the event of it being extinguished, would necessitate him  having to feel his way out along the thread. Modern day battery lamps make light  of this problem.

It is a great improvement on 'passages that go for miles', which was the  belief of the time. The poetry is very apt, particularly with regard to the  Entrance Chamber, where there is a quantity of fungus in a variety of colours  and tiny copper-stained stalactites. One wonders whether he took this from some  other work to suit his purpose or whether he made it up himself with special  reference to the Ogof.

In 1877, John Fewtrell made the first attempt at an accurate survey "... At a  short distance from the entrance is found the first chamber, the roof of which  is supported by means of a pillar. ... Two passages lead out of this chamber, in  one is found a large pool of water so as to be impassible, the other is  comparitively dry. This passage I proceeded along and found that there was a  strong draught of air, showing that it would ultimately open into one of the  vertical shafts. This passage leads to the largest chamber from which five  passages branch, one of the largest is about the size of a man's body and nearly  round ... The water which percolated through the limestone is in many places  highly petrifying and forms many beautiful stalactites possessing a clear  metallic sound when struck. The colour of these is generally a greenish tinge  owing to the copper solution being carried through by the water. A beautiful  effect is produced when the chambers are lit up".

The pillar is really to one side of the Entrance Passage but, in view of his  poor lighting, this statement is understandable. He notes the waterfilled  entrance to the Great Circle and proceeded along the Dovaston Series into Five  Ways Chamber, which he describes as the largest chamber. He was obviously not  aware of the existence of the Shaft Chamber, which must therefore have been cut  off at the time of his visit. It would seem that the Dovaston Series was the  only passage open at this time. Again, we have the mystery of the many beautiful  stalactites, which are certainly not to be seen in this part of the Ogof today.  These were probably destroyed by the first parties of the hordes of modern  explorers.

A further visit was made in 1896 by the Reverend Elias Jones, "... The  entrance to the mine is about 350 yards from the south side of the hill and  about 150 yards from a cottage. The level is approached through an artificial  cavern 12 ft high and of oblong shape 18' by 15'. The entrance is partly blocked  up with stone to keep sheep from wandering in. The level is slightly above the  floor and measures about 2' by 5'. A careful exploration of the mine and a  survey of the whole hill might be made with good results if undertaken by  competent persons."

Although the Entrance Chamber of the Ogof measures 12 feet in height, his  measurement of the remaining dimensions was somewhat short, as the chamber  actually measures 34ft long by 24ft wide at its widest point. The surveyors did  not find the floor of the level to be slightly above the floor of the chamber,  almost the reverse in fact, possibly due to later disturbances of the rubble  floor. The level dimensions given are about right. It took 70 years for his  final statement to be realised and, in many cases, this survey must have been  undertaken 70 years too late as much has disappeared in the meantime. However we  have tried our best to wrest the secrets from the Ogof as no doubt he would have  wished.

We now leap ahead to 1941, when there was a visit by P.Cleator and some other  cavers, "... We marched boldly in.. I, poor fool, led the way. The first 30 odd  yards are easy going. Thereafter, one crawls on a bed of the sharpest stones it  has ever been my misfortune to encounter. And thereafter, one continues to crawl  for evermore. The whole damned cave is a series of such crawls. What happened  was this: We crawled and cursed for maybe 20 yards...and found ourselves in a  chamber from which three or four passages led off; all proved duds but one,  along which we crawled and cursed for maybe 20 yards... and found ourselves in a  chamber from which three or four passages led off,... and this sort of thing  happened at least six times. Always we got to some damned chamber with several  passages, and always one of those passages led to another chamber. But we got to  the end at last...a choked passage. Very likely it could be opened up? And most  probably it leads to a chamber from which three or four passages led off?

We reached the end just an hour after entering, and out in half the time, as  we were able to avoid all the dud passages. Then, on the left of the entrance  going out, we noticed an uninviting hole which Fryd insisted upon poking his  nose into. he reached a fair sized cavity, and insisted upon our joining him, as  several passages led off. With many groans we did so.... and all the passages  promptly petered out. After a rest, we entered the main cave again. About 25  yards in, on the left just past a rock pillar reaching from floor to ceiling,  we'd noticed a side passage, and had promised ourselves a look at it. It began  with a crawl, and after a few yards abruptly dropped 6ft ... into the inevitable  chamber from which led three or four passages. Two of the passages proved in  reality to be one. Fryd entered at one end, did a semi-circular tour through the  rock, and emerged at the other, and great was the cursing thereat. The other  passages also led nowhere. But in the floor was yet another drop which led to a  chamber from which three or four passages led off."

It is rather difficult from his account to decide where they went on their  first entry but presumably they must have gone in during a dry spell and  traversed the Great Circle right back to Mandible Chamber, then returned without  knowing that they were within a few feet on the Entrance. He does tend to  exaggerate the number of chambers which had three or four passages leading off,  it is not quite as bad as that, but it certainly can be confusing on a first  visit. They certainly visited Mandible Chamber on their way out and would  probably have kicked themselves had they known that they were only a few feet  from what they presumed was the final reaches of the system! Their final visit  was obviously to the Dovaston Series and the S.C.M.C. were apparently were not  the first to discover the ox-bow in Five Ways Chamber, although this has now  been connected through to the Shaft Chamber. Certainly the continuous flat out  crawling and kneeling on the sharp stones in the Ogof passages is very tiring  and theirs was a fair trip. In all he gave a fair summing up of the discomforts  and difficulties which were encountered during the exploration and survey of the  Ogof 20 years later.

A similarly lighthearted but more informative account which poses a number of  questions was given by A. Johnson in 1948, "... The walls of the chamber are  covered with a green transparent jelly which sticks to your clothes like glue  and makes a hell of a mess. The place stinks of sheep so they may be the cause.  There are several very small holes high up in the walls but there is an obvious  way through a rectangular hole about 3ft high at the far end of the chamber.  This leads to a second chamber with two or three tunnels leading off. I have  explored up one of them but as I only had a baby torch I did not go very far,  but to my surprise I found myself at the bottom of an aven about 3ft by 2ft,  leading up to the surface. Search on the surface revealed a wired off area  containing a natural shaft which by its' position should be the right one ...  The other cave on the hill is about one third of a mile north of the first under  some hawthorn bushes and just inside the entrance is a stream which disappears  down what appears to be a very promising tunnel. According to the locals there  is always water there but no-one has explored it. At the base of the cliffs at  the southern tip of the hill is a cave entrance which has been blocked some ten  feet in as the sheep use it as a shelter. In all these caves there is only a  little formation that I have seen and is mostly white with slight brownish  streaks. Also on the same hill are two open lead mine shafts about 80ft deep.  They are circular about 4ft in diameter and the walls are built up with dry  stonework. There are a lot of small depressions filled with loose stone which  may be covered in mine shafts as they have the same appearance as the open  ones.'

This is an interesting account of a visit, which took place only 12 years  before the S.C.M.C. commenced its detailed exploration of the Ogof and  surrounding district, but it does pose a number of questions. He, like some  later writers, was obviously convinced that the Ogof was a natural cave, which  of course is not the case. The green transparent jelly had diminished somewhat  by the time the survey took place and it no longer stinks of sheep. The most  surprising statement is his discovery of an aven measuring about 2ft by 3ft  leading up to the surface, which he apparently found not far from the entrance,  together with his wired off area containing a natural shaft. Certainly nothing  remotely resembling this description was found during the survey. The only  possibility is that he must have gained access to the Shaft Chamber, although we  are fairly certain that it must have been blocked at that time. If a typing  error has occurred and his dimensions should read 30ft by 20ft, these are very  rough dimensions of the Shaft Chamber. Even then, the 4ft square shaft looks  anything but natural. A final possibility is that, with his poor light, he did  find that the entrance to the Chamber was not completely blocked and that  peering under the aperture he might have observed a hole of the dimensions  given, with daylight visible above. If he went no further, he may not have  gathered the fact that he was only on the floor of a large chamber and that the  daylight was coming from a mined shaft that he could not see.

His story of the cave under some hawthorn bushes with a stream disappearing  into it is a complete mystery. Although it would be unwise to say that we have  seen everything on the hill, we have spent a great deal of time searching for  this type of feature without success. However, the cave at the base of the  cliffs at the southern tip of the hill has been examined and found to extend for  about 50ft. Whether it is a very early level or a natural cave it is nearly  impossible to say. By the time the survey was undertaken, the golf club had  filled in nearly all the old shafts and levelled out the features which must  have been visible then.

The group of friends calling themselves 'The Shropshire Mining Club' first  visited the Ogof in 1960. They were somewhat more fortunate than Messrs Cleator  and Clay and succeeded in finding the entrance without much trouble. The party  found their way though to the Terminal Chamber via the Dovaston Series. Here  could be seen numerous indecipherable chalked names and dates of earlier  explorers. During the second visit in 1961, exploration of the Ogof was  restricted to the area of Mandible Chamber. The adit leading to the Winze Series  was thoroughly explored but not the upper workings.

The following month, the party climbed the slope above the entrance and found  the entrance to the Pit Series. They only entered Badger Chamber, so named  because it was evidently the abode of some animal whose bedding was strewn  about. The animal, presumably a badger, apparently had a passion for golf balls,  of which three were found. Luckily the owner of this dark domain was out. This  was presumably the pit mentioned by Miss Chitty in 1927. During a discussion  with an elderly local man in the Cross Guns Inn that morning, the party had  learnt of a shaft which dropped into the Ogof itself. This square shaft was  found by a small bush, some yards to the east of the pit, and was descended by  ladder. The finding of an Ordnance Survey map and a packet of Woodbines proved  that the shaft had been descended previously.

Following the official foundation of the Shropshire Mining Club in 1961, the  first visit of the new founder members was to Llanymynech Hill. It was agreed to  begin a survey of the Ogof, which was realised as being an important and  necessary undertaking. During subsequent visits, a number of bones and artefacts  were discovered. In 1962, the Hereford Caving Club succeeded in entering the Pit  Series and this was soon surveyed by the S.C.M.C. In 1963, the club managed to  gain access to the upper workings of the Winze Series and in 1965 discovered the  second set of Pit Series workings.

In 1965, the greatest discovery so far made in the Ogof came to light. A  party of school children with a master had been conducting an exploration of the  Ogof. A number of them had passed through the connection between Five Ways and  the Shaft Chamber when one of them, helping himself out by clutching at a  projecting rock conveniently protruding from a stack of calcited rubble, pulled  the rock away. From behind it fell a quantity of silver coins which were  eventually passed to the National Museum of Wales.

Between 1960-66, at least 17 visits were made in order to complete the  survey, no less than 75 hours being spent doing the actual underground work.

extract from "Mines of Llanymynech Hill", David Adams & Adrian Pearce,  SCMC Account No.14

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FOLKLORE SURROUNDING THE OGOF

Dark, cave-like openings have always fascinated people and they are often  associated with legends of the more fanciful kind. Writers in the 18-19th  centuries seemed to be particularly susceptible to such tales and it is likely  that many of these were devised in the local inns rather than being based on  genuine beliefs. True to form, the Ogof at Llanymynech has it's fair share of  legends and these have been described below for the reader's entertainment.

In 1694, Llwyd visited the area and recorded "... I have observed in several  mountainous places, small brooks issue violently out of ye ground; and always  judged them subterraneous currents, having seen such at Wokie Hole and Ogof  Llanymynech and some other caves".

That he should remember the Ogof in this way seems strange, as there is no  other reference to water issuing violently out of the mouth of the Ogof. At  present, there is no sign of there ever having been a stream running out. In any  case, as can be seen from the survey, the water would have had to run uphill to  appear at the Ogof entrance! It is possible that the Mandible Chamber entrance  was fully open at that time and, being lower than the main entrance, might have  allowed the accumulated ground water (which can still be found in parts of the  Ogof) to escape in times of heavy rainfall. Even so, the description 'violently'  and the comparison with Wookey Hole would still seem inept. One other  possibility is that he was not referring to the Ogof itself but rather to the  hill, around the sides of which are a few small springs which probably flow with  strength in wet weather.

In 1795, Mechain mentions "... the 'Ogov' or cave about which the  neighbouring peasantry abound with fairey legends". This is perhaps based on a  genuine local belief, since lead miners throughout the country were always  somewhat superstitous and believed in mythical creatures called 'Knockers'.  These were said to live underground and, if treated with respect, led the miners  to good ore. Alternatively, those miners who were not respectful could meet with  a nasty end!

It is often the case that locals who have not ventured underground greatly  increase the size of workings in their imagination. They often take two  completely unrelated entrances and assume that they connect underground. This  seems to have led to a belief that the Ogof was a huge maze and Bingley wrote in  1804 "... The windings of this cavern are very numerous and intricate. Some  years ago, two men of the parish endeavouring to explore it were so bewildered  by it's mazes that, when they were discovered by some miners who were sent to  search for them, they had thrown themselves on the ground in despair of ever  reaching light".

It was explored by Dovaston in the early 19th century and he relates "...  Superstition, ever prone to people in darkness with the progeny of imagination,  has assigned inhabitants here, such as Knockers, Goblins and Ghosts; and the  surrounding peasantry aver, with inflexible credulity that the aerial harmonies  of Fairies are frequently heard in the deep recesses. ... Tradition says this  labyrinth communicated by subterraneous paths with Carreghova Castle; and some  persons aver that they have gone so far as to hear the rivers Vyrnwy and Tanat  rolling over their heads, and that it leads down to Fairyland".

A further legend was described in a periodical of 1878 "... A writer in  Brayley's 'Graphic and Historical Illustrator' signing himself 'Vyvyan',  contributes four interesting chapters on the 'Popular Superstitions and Customs  of Wales'. In one of these he says, 'Many marvellous traditions are afloat in  the Principality regarding caves; one in North Wales is supposed to extend for  an endless distance under ground, and was invested with a character of so  fearful in nature, that it was reported that any person venturing within five  paces of it's mouth would infallibly be lost. In consequence, the immediate  vicinity remained untrodden by the foot of man for a long series of years; and  it was said that animals had also so great a dread of approaching it that a fox  with a full pack of hounds in full cry at it's brush, has been known to turn  short round with his hair bristling with terror, and run into the midst of his  canine enemies, rather than encounter the horrors of that wild and yawning  recess; and that the dogs shrunk away and could not be prevailed upon to touch  him in consequence of the infernal odour which he had imbibed from his near  vicinage to the powers of darkness. Several human beings were believed to have  been lost within it's 'ponderous and marble jaws', one of whom was an old  minstrel, who fell a victim to a rash bet on the subject. He danced towards the  cave, till he came within the limits of it's charmed circle, when he was  suddenly seized by an invisible power, and hurried away for ever from the gaze  of man'. Where is this cave?".

Another correspondent replied a few weeks later and claimed that the site was  that of the Ogof Cave on Llanymynech Hill. He went on to say "... The entrance  is large, solitary and dismal in appearance and would naturally inspire with  terror some of the superstitious. It was allowed to have been the abode of the  fairy, who became the wife of King Alaric, whose palace is said to lie at the  bottom of Llynclys Pool. As a proof that persons were afraid to explore the  maze, until the middle of the last century, several human skeletons were then  discovered entire, with articles of the chase, battlefield and the household, in  addition to a number of coins. Even in the present day I have not known any old  inhabitant, who in his youthful days has ventured far into the passages. ... It  should have been mentioned that the main passage is said to extend beneath the  village, passing near the Cross Keys {Guns} Hotel cellar. An old blind fiddler  is said to have penetrated thus far, and was heard from the cellar, performing  upon the violin".

The same journal published a further account in 1896 "... The Roman Cavern in  Llanymynech Hill, called Ogo, has been long noted, as the residence of a class  of the fairy tribe, of which the villagers relate many surprising and  mischievous tricks. They have listened at the mouth of the cave, and have  sometimes even heard them in conversation, but always in such low whispers, that  their words have never been distinguishable. The stream that runs through it is  celebrated as being the place in which they have been heard to wash their  clothes and do several other kinds of work".

The final written record of legends appears in 1896 and refers to Ned Pugh  "... Ned then asserted that he could walk from the Ogo to the Lion Inn at  Llanymynech. He was not believed, and then he made a wager that he would on the  following Sunday, play a tune, at the usual time that the choir sang, that he  should be heard by all the congregation in church. His boasting challenge was  taken up. On the following Sunday Ned went to the entrance of the Ogo on the  hill carrying with him his harp and he disappeared into the Ogo. As the time  came on for the choir to sing, everyone was intently listening for the sound of  the harp, and sure enough out of the earth proceeded it's sounds. The people  distinctly heard a tune, which the singers took up and when they had finished  the harpist too ceased. The poor man though never emerged out of the Ogo. The  tune in consequence was called 'Farewell Ned Pugh'.

extract from "Mines of Llanymynech Hill", David Adams & Adrian Pearce,  SCMC Account No.14

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UNDERGROUND REMAINS

1. Approx 1750 - entrance passages? Present location Shrewsbury School. Two  iron picks possibly of Roman date. One was just over 9 inches and the other  nearly 14 inches long. The latter had been longer but a considerable proportion  of the pointed end had been broken off. From the weight of the iron, the handles  appear to have been very short.

2. Approx 1750 - entrance passages? Present location unknown.
a) entire  human skeletons
b) culinary vessels
c) hatchet
d) Roman copper  coins
e) bracelet of glass beads, found on the arm of one of the  skeletons
f) battleaxe.

3. Approx 1750 - in a cave 'a distance from the Ogof'. Present location  unknown. Bones of a man, woman, dog and cat.

4. Approx 1775 - entrance passages? Present location unknown. Gold bracelet  around wrist of a skeleton.

5. Before 1810 - Found by J.Dovaston. Present location unknown. Roman coins  including an Antoninus & Faustina (149-156 AD).

6. Before 1822 - washed down hillside. Present location unknown. Finger bone  with ring on it. 8. 1849 - in a trench adjacent to Ogof. Present  location unknown. Two large human skeletons and battle axe of mixed metal but  sharp at the edge.

9. Before 1855 - Present location unknown. Roman coins of Vespasian (69-79  AD).

10. Before 1877 - entrance passages? Found by quarrymen. Present location  unknown. Several skeletons with very large hands.

11. 1877 - Agony Crawl? Found by J.Fewtrell. Present location unknown. Large  bones, apparently human.

12. Before 1879 - Present location unknown. Twenty Roman copper coins dating  from the early Emperors to a tolerably late period of Imperial sway in Britain.

13. Before 1937 - Present location unknown. Single bladed iron pick.

14. June 1962 - Mandible Chamber. Found by J.James & C.Lears. Present  location Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury.
a) piece of black burnished ware of  Romano-British type
b) human lower jawbone, possibly young female
c) two  whetstones similar to ones found in the forum at Viroconium.

15. August 1962 - Mandible Chamber. Found by T.Morris. Present location  Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury. Human femur 9.25 inches in length.

16. February 1963 - Mandible Chamber. Found by C.Lears & R.Meeson.  Present location Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury. Bones & black burnished  ware.

17. February 1964 - Shaft Chamber. Found by C.Lears. Present location Rowley  House Museum, Shrewsbury. Piece of black burnished ware cemented into stack of  miners' deads.

18. April 1964 - Mandible Chamber. Found by P.Griffiths. Present location  Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury. Human clavicle, incomplete tibia & remains  of sheep.

19. December 1964 - Burial Chamber. Found by various SCMC members. Present  location Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury.
a) 2nd century black burnished  ware
b) incomplete human lower jawbone, possibly elderly person
c)  quantity of human teeth
d) various human bones
e) Roman copper coins of  Faustina (149-156 AD).

20. December 1964 - Burial Chamber. Found by I.Forrest. Present location with  finder. Bone pin 3.75 inches in length, 0.1 inch in diameter, carved at both  ends and coated with remains of blue glaze.

21. December 1964 - Burial Chamber. Found by I.Forrest, P.Payne &  P.Renney. Present location with finders.
a) piece of terracotta unglazed  pottery
b) pottery fragments with black glaze
c) pieces of pipe stem and  inscribed bole of clay pipe
d) bones of mammal, possibly dog
e) various  human bones. (These were examined by Prof Harrison of Liverpool University and  declared to be from a person aged 18-20).

22. March 1965 - Burial Chamber. Found by I.Forrest, P.Payne & P.Renney.  Present location with finders.
a) various human bones
b) base and side of  terra cotta pot
c) pieces of black glazed pottery
d) 1 oz fragment of  black flint
e) piece of clay pipe.

23. November 1965 - Shaft Chamber. Found by Oswestry schoolboy. Present  location National Museum of Wales. 33 Roman silver coins.
- Antony  [legionary] (30 BC)
- Vittelius (69-70 AD)
- Vespasian (69-79 AD)
-  Titus (79-81 AD)
- Domitian (81-96 AD)
- Nerva (96-98 AD)
- Trajan  (98-117 AD)
- Hadrian (117-138 AD)
- Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD)
-  Faustina (149-156 AD)
- Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).

24. April 1966 - Mandible Chamber. Found by D.Evans. Present location with  finder. Head of human femur.

extract from "Mines of Llanymynech Hill", David Adams & Adrian Pearce,  SCMC Account No.14

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During the four months up to the end of Sepember 1997, members of the Shrewsbury  Underground Exploration Group have made several finds in the Ogof's Mandible  Chamber that could bring us a step nearer to finally dating the mine.

Along with many others, l have for a long time suspected that the Ogof  predates the Roman occupation period. Until June of this year stone tools, the  initial pointer to a possible Bronze Age working, have never been discovered in  the mine or, if they have, it has never become common knowledge. It should be  stated at this point that the Ogof is a scheduled site under the control of  CADW. Although it is an offence to dig in the mine, there is plenty of evidence  to suggest that digging has been going on quite recently. Not only is  archaeological evidence being destroyed but any finds made are disappearing into  private collections without being recorded. Having said this, without illicit  digs the first group of stone tools would not have been found.

On a visit to the Mandible Chamber in June along with Gareth Owen, Patrick  Owen and Russell Hill, we recovered four stone tools near to the floor groove in  the old entrance adit. They were subsequently removed for safe keeping and were  carefully cleaned, weighed and recorded. I have, for my own records, given each  stone a reference number. It is these numbers that will be used here.

HS.l/1 : 0.8 kg. A small maul which has been modified to accommodate a better  grip during use. Being micaceous sandstone, modification by rubbing on a hard  surface would have been an easy task. One end shows classic bruising and has  cracked through use. A flake has been chipped off the opposing end.

HS.2/1 : 0.2 kg . The smallest of this first group of stones. It is a round  pebble with bruising to each end. Is this stone a possible indication that  children worked in the Ogof'?

HS.3/1 : 1.2 kg. A flat stone heavily chipped on both edges. The one end  shows signs of heavy usage as flakes of the stone have been knocked off.

HS.4/1 : 6.1 kg. The largest and most versatile stone yet found. This stone  is peardrop shaped and very similar to one on display at the Great Orme Mine in  Llandudno. It has been used for grinding, as is evident on the underside.  Bruising to the sides indicate its use as a hammer and it has been suggested  that it may, due to its shape and marks it exhibits, have been used as a lap  held anvil.

All the stones in group one were handed over to the Clwyd Powys  Archaeological Trust shortly after discovery.

In July three more stones were recovered from the Mandible Chamber. This  second group are far smaller in size to the first group and, with one exception  , rather difficult to suggest what they may have been used for.

HS.5/2 : 0.25 kg. A flat axe shaped stone which may have been used as a  whetstone.

HS.6/2 : 0.25 kg. An interesting stone as it has been suggested that it shows  signs that it could well have started out its working life as part of a  Neolithic hand axe. Once broken in the Ogof, this flake appears to have been  used as a scraper.

HS.7/2 : 0.27 kg. A small hand sized micaceous sandstone pebble ground flat  on one end. It may have been used for grinding however being so small this would  seem unlikely.

In early September the Mandible Chamber yielded three further stones. They  are unfortunately rather similar to group two in that,apart from HS. 8 / 3, it  would be difficult to suggest their use.

HS.8/3 : 0.5 kg. A flat stone that fits into the hand so well it would most  certainly have been used as a maul. Straight groves on one face are possible  evidence that this stone was also used for sharpening some type of pointed  implement.

HS.9/3 : 0.21 kg. Although smaller than HS.7/2 it is somewhat similar in  shape. It would be hard to attribute specific use for this stone.

HS.10/3 : 3.25 kg. The second largest of the stones recovered from Mandible  chamber. Although a large piece has been broken off there are no markings on  this stone to give any clue to its use.

The discovery of these stones does not prove that the Ogof is a Bronze Age  mine but it is the closest connection with this period found there. It may be of  some significance that, although we have looked throughout the mine, the only  place where these stones have been found is in Mandible Chamber. Of the ten  stones we have recovered, six show clear evidence of having been utilised by  man. Any use that could have been made of the remaining four is not clear. I  must stress that all of the stones we have found were not buried, they were just  lying in the surface rubble.

extract from "Recent Finds in Llanymynech Ogof", Pete Owen, SCMC Annual  Journal No.5

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SURFACE REMAINS

There are no surface remains apart from some grassed over tips, a fenced open  shaft and an open adit entrance to the Ogof. To the north is an open 19th  century adit which leads to the bottom of earlier stope workings. South-west are  some smaller workings which are very difficult to find.

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