Great Orme Ancient Mines - History and Facts | History Hit

Great Orme Ancient Mines

Llandudno, Wales, United Kingdom

The ancient copper mines discovered below the Great Orme date back over 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Lily Johnson

05 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Great Orme Ancient Mines

The Great Orme Ancient Mines are a large complex of Bronze Age copper mines discovered below the Great Orme – a prominent limestone headland in Llandudno, Wales. With thousands of years of fascinating history to explore, the mines present a visit like no other and offer a rare glimpse into the world of ancient Britain.

Great Orme Ancient Mines history

Dating back over 4,000 years to the Bronze Age, it is thought that the Great Orme Ancient Mines were once Britain’s leading copper producers, reaching their peak productivity between 1700 BC and 1400 BC. This is evidenced by the fact that in around 1600 BC all other copper mines in Britain had been forced to close as they were unable to compete!

They remained in use until their abandonment in around 600 BC, following which they were later reopened by the Romans who utilised them at various times during the Romano-British period. The mines would again be used from the late 17th to the 19th centuries as the demand for copper rose, however in 1881 they were abandoned for the final time.

When the Great Orme Ancient Mines were accidentally uncovered in 1987, archaeologists found a huge underground complex thought to be the largest known prehistoric mine in the world. The 5 miles of tunnels discovered since these excavations are even thought to make up less than half of what remains to be found!

Great Orme Ancient Mines today

Today, visitors can explore the mines on a self-guided tour usually lasting around 45 minutes. Hard hats are issued as you descend two levels of the mine, experiencing what it may have been like for the ancient miners of Great Orme those 4,000 years ago. Make sure to wrap up warm, temperatures vary between 5-8 degrees celsius underground!

Above ground, the surface walk around the smelting shelter and open-cast mines give further insight into the fascinating world of ancient mining, while the visitors’ centre gives information on life in a Bronze Age village and features a number of ancient artefacts!

Getting to the Great Orme Ancient Mines

The Great Orme Ancient Mines are located in Llandudno, and are well-signposted from the A55 and all other approach roads into the town. There is parking at the site, while Llandudno train station is a 30-minute walk away.

The site can also be reached via the Great Orme Tramway, with the Halfway Station a 10-minute walk to the site, and the 26 bus service also stopping here.

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