Gold mining in Wales
All cultures and aeons of human history have used gold as its most valuable resource, its scarcity bestowing wealth on those lucky enough to come across it. When the Romans ruled Britain between the first and fifth centuries AD, they would have looked to control its resources, including gold.
Dolaucothi mine in Carmarthenshire was seized upon by the Romans as a useful source of empire's most precious wealth, but they weren't responsible for opening it. It was the neolithic Britons, those of the late Bronze and Iron ages who opened Dolaucothi, perhaps as early as 600 BC.
The Romans used slaves for the hard manual labour of extracting the gold deposits and it is thought that serious excavation commenced in 75 AD. The gold was destined for the Imperial Mint in Lyon.
It is not clear for how long the working at Dolaucothi by Romans and their slaves went on for and records do not show working there by the Saxons or their successors in the centuries following the Romans' exit of Britain in 410 AD.
It was during the 17th or 18th centuries that mining recommenced at the site on a small scale but it was in the 19th that there was expansion beyond the original open cast.
Shafts were sunk into the rock, culminating in a shaft to a depth of 140 metres (460 ft). A large amount of ore was extracted during the 1930s, but after World War Two the mine was no longer used for commercial enterprise. Cardiff University held the lease to work the mine or field training until 1999.
The National Trust now own Dolaucothi and it is open to the public.