New guided tours taking visitors through 4,000 years of Welsh history have been launched at some of Britain’s earliest metal mines near Aberystwyth, never before opened to the public.
Mid Wales Mine Adventures is the brainchild of graduate and local mining expert Ioan Lord, 20, who wants to create local and national interest in the mines which have been worked for copper, lead and zinc since the Bronze Age.
Now, for the first time in their history, some of them are being made accessible to the public through guided tours led by Ioan. These tours take visitors into areas which have been untouched since the departure of the last miners more than a century ago.
Born and bred in the area, Ioan published his first book on Mid Wales’ mining industry in 2018 –‘ Rich Mountains of Lead: the Metal Mining Industry of Cwm Rheidol and Ystumtuen’.
When he’s not exploring mines, the Welsh History with Archaeology graduate of Bangor University works as a guard and locomotive fireman on Vale of Rheidol Railway and as honorary curator at industrial museums at Corris and Llywernog Silver-lead Mine near Ponterwyd.
He established Mid Wales Mine Adventures earlier this year to encourage interest in the area’s mining heritage and to promote this aspect of Welsh history through guided trips over the dramatic landscape and into the mine workings themselves.
“I have always been astonished at how little attention is given to Mid Wales’ metal mining industry,” he said. “At least 10 mines in Mid Wales were started in the early Bronze Age, over 4,000 years ago and the industry’s lack of appreciation and representation is unbelievable.
“The surface and underground tours are aimed at anyone who has an interest in history, underground exploration or those looking for something different to do in the area. They will make accessible this integral part of Welsh history and culture, as well as providing a memorable experience for visitors and tourists to the area.”
The guided tours will introduce visitors to the spectacular man-made caverns and landscape of one of Wales’ forgotten industries and celebrate the lives and legacies of hundreds of families who worked the labyrinth of underground passages which contain artefacts and old equipment.