Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where to find Welsh Gold?

Welsh Gold – there’s lovely!

The British Royal Family have been using Welsh Gold for their wedding rings since 1923. The custom began with the marriage of Elizabeth Bowes Lyn, the Queen Mother, to the Duke of York later King George VI.

More recently, Kate Middleton’s wedding ring was also made from Welsh gold.

However, Welsh Gold goes way further back in time than that. The Celtic chieftains and early Welsh Princes wore Welsh gold as a mark of rank, over 2000 years ago and it was prized by the Romans invaders who began mining it in 75AD.

Welsh gold was relatively easy to extract by hand because it forms like coal, in pure seams making it easy to see and process without advanced machinery.

Welsh gold is found in both North and South Wales and there are three gold mines in Wales today.

In North Wales, the gold producing region forms a narrow band that starts in Barmouth and reaches to Snowdonia.  Here you can find Gwynfynydd Gold Mines in Dolgellau and Clogau Gold Mine in Bontddu, near Barmouth.

There is only one gold mine in South Wales. This is Dolaucothi, near Pumpsaint Dyfed. This mine was operated by the Romans until 300AD and was subsequently abandoned until the 1800s and finally closed in 1938.

Today none of the welsh gold mines operate commercially. The Gwynfynydd mine stopped full production in 1998 and although it is believed that there is a high level of gold still to be found under the hills of Snowdonia, environmental issues prevent this happening.

The Clogau Mine used to be a high producing gold mine until it fell into neglect. It was bought by a private company called Midas Exploration in 2010 who aim to make it fully operational in the future but so far this has not happened.

The National Trust purchased Dolaucothi in 1941 and today you can visit the workings of the mine and buy gold pieces from the shop. Many visitors also enjoy trying their hand at gold panning