Dolaucothi Gold Mines - History and Facts | History Hit

Dolaucothi Gold Mines

Pumsaint, Wales, United Kingdom

The Dolaucothi Gold Mines are ancient Roman surface and underground mines located in the valley of the River Cothi, near Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire, Wales. The Romans made extensive use of water carried by several aqueducts.

Lily Johnson

14 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Glen Bowman via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

About Dolaucothi Gold Mines

The Dolaucothi Gold Mines are a collection of ancient Roman mines located in the valley of the River Cothi in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Today the gold mines are located within the Dolaucothi Estate and are owned by the National Trust.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines history

The Dolaucothi Gold Mines were first extensively mined by the Romans between 70 and 80 AD, with open-cast workings and several tunnels created to exploit the area’s gold veins.

This would have been achieved solely with picks and hammers, however the infamous Roman aqueducts were also employed to scour away the topsoil and wash the ore as it was dug out. The longest of these was about 7 miles long and ran from its source in a gorge of the River Cothi, to the hillsides above the modern village of Pumsaint.

A fort named Luentinum was established near the mine in around 78 AD, and would send its convicts and prisoners of war to work there as punishment – it was seemingly abandoned around 50 years later for unknown reasons however. Still, Roman activity seems to have remained in the area for many years, with pottery discovered nearby dating from at least the late 3rd century.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines today

Today the Dolaucothi Gold Mines are managed by the National Trust, who run guided tours around the site. Outside the mines, clear evidence of its usage may be seen on the landscape, including undulating woodland disturbed by the pits and trenches beneath and the many small hills made up of old spoil tips.

Inside, further evidence of the Romans’ use of the mine may be found. 2,000-year-old pick-marks can still be made out on the cave walls, as well as the remains of the aqueduct channels and adjoining water tanks.

The mines are a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and as the only known Roman gold mines in Britain they give a valuable insight into the Romans’ lesser-known exploits while in Britain.

Getting to Dolaucothi Gold Mines

The Dolaucothi Gold Mines are located near the village of Pumsaint in Carmarthenshire, Wales. They can be reached by taking the A482 road off the A40, and free parking is available at the site. The nearest train station is 8-miles away at Llanwrda, however public transport to the site itself is scarce, with the nearest bus stop at Caio Turn, a 35-minute walk to the site. The 289 bus service from Lampeter to Llandovery runs along this route.

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