Breathtaking legacy of ancient metallurgy
Quite simply one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in the British Isles! Copper was extracted here from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and it was widely suspected that it had also been mined during prehistoric times. Then in 1987, during landscaping works on the Great Orme, a network of ancient tunnels and mine workings was found that radically changed our views of prehistoric British society. Thought to be at least 4000 years old, the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines is the largest of its kind ever discovered. It is estimated that around 1800 tonnes of copper were extracted here.
When added to tin, copper forms the alloy bronze, a much harder metal than either copper or tin. Bronze is able to hold a sharp edge, making it suitable for the manufacture of tools and weapons. The presence of copper on the Great Orme would have enabled the early communities of Wales to acquire wealth through trade in both the raw materials and manufactured products of this industry.
Despite its international importance, the excavation and development of the site has been privately funded by Great Orme Mines Ltd for the past 25 years, until funding was made available from the Our Heritage project to extend the visitor Centre. Take a tour of this fascinating and unique place – prepare to be left speechless as you enter the great underground cavern. The tour also allows you to see untouched Bronze Age galleries. You will not be disappointed.