At the eastern end of the site are the remains of an amphitheatre, built by the Romans to keep the troops at the garrison fit and amused. From the air, the various features are easy to interpret, but while I was studying the Google Earth view I couldn't help but notice another feature, one that cuts brutally across the eastern corner of the site with no regard for history. It didn't take long to realise that I was looking at the remains of a tramway. Following it in a south-easterly direction, it strides cross-country with the conviction that only Victorian capitalism could show, having scant regard for Roman or any other remains.
|Slabs at the side of the tramway, looking towards Tomen-y-Mur beyond the trees.|
|A slab bridge on the tramway|
|Waliau below the modern pit.|
The lower workings were obviously of some age as the waste was well covered in lichen. There appear to have been two lower adits, now obliterated by later working. Further away, down the hill, another opencut leading to an adit is disappearing back to nature. There are ruined structures all over the site, some of which may have been launder supports, others weigh houses; it's difficult to tell.
The modern quarry pit seems to be yielding some very good quality slate. From a recce of the hillside above the pit , it seems that untopping has taken place, exposing some chambering and a low adit which must have originated somewhere close to the access road, now lost. From a distance, the rock strata in the pit makes an interesting study.
I wanted to try and find the remains of a couple of dams and some more workings on the hillsides above the pit, but Graig Wen had donned his full war gear and was threatening us with hostilities of a very damp nature. Suffice to say that the area will reward further study by those who appreciate old industrial remains, and for the energetic, the road past the quarry carries on for a good few miles towards Bwlch-y-Llu, the now gated gold mine above Cwm Prysor.
* Gazeteer of Slate Quarrying in Wales, Alun John Richards, 2007, ISBN 1-84524-074-X
|The barracks, looking towards the modern pit.|
|A view of the tramway and barracks from one of the older pit workings. Tomen-y-Mur is on the right distant horizon.|