Friday, August 13, 2010

Ynys Môns 3 - Parys Mountain

A desert, I know now, forms not just where there is little rain but also where man has exposed what nature took pains to hide

This rock is rich in metal ore, and toxic, the colours indicating iron, copper and zinc.

There was a vast open caste mine here, and in the 19th century the miners were suspended by ropes and beat at the sides with mallets to dislodge the rock.

(the pit here is huge - to get an idea of the scale of this picture click on it and look for the car tyre in the bottom)

Women, known as the copper ladies, knelt for twelve hours at a time on this cobbled platform (now partly eroded away) and broke up the rocks to find the ore, a spotted yellow scarf covering their face and, on top of this, a little black hat.

Meanwhile, water from the mine, which was rich with with dissolved copper salts, was pumped into ponds containing scrap iron. The copper then displaced the iron (a chemistry classic) and precipitated out to produce a copper sludge which was then dried and smelted. The water, now containing salts of iron rather than copper was then channelled into precipitation pools for the iron salts to be deposited as yellow ochre, to be used in paints.

It all makes an eerie otherwordly landscape, popular for filming science-fiction. A pathway traces a circuit

stopping at points of interest: including this skeleton of a windmill, which once had five sails, and was used to pump the copper-rich water from the mine

and through whose vacant window-sockets can now be seen the new sails of the modern era.


Blogger aliholli said...

Fantastic photos, I love the first 3, pinky purpley landscape...gorgeous.

Sat Aug 21, 10:17:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Ali - have you been there? It's an amazing place and takes less than 2 hours to get there from Chester.

Sun Aug 22, 03:50:00 pm  

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