|In the Opencut|
We were mine-hunting, of course- and uncovered a few gems, which hopefully will appear here soon. We also discovered that the area had enjoyed a very different life from the role of holiday village that it mostly assumes nowadays. What we thought had been quarry buildings soon revealed themselves to have a rather more warlike aspect, helped by the notices here and there, warning walkers to keep to the path if they valued their limbs. All this was, of course, in the past...Bronaber camp itself is well documented and was at it's peak in the two world wars, closing in the late fifties, when it had a brief period of glory housing the workers for the nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd. It's an interesting subject, and I may return to it sometime.
So, we weren't thinking much about unexploded bombs when we set off, up an unsurfaced track into one of the wilder corners of this area. But, after a while, we noticed a burnt out area near the track , covered with slag. For some crazy reason, I thought it might be the site of a bloomery, although why, up here miles away from nowhere, I don't know. Once I had recovered from this aberration and started thinking sensibly, another, equally bizarre conclusion was the only one that seemed plausible. There was a fair quantity of molten steel which had melted into the ground and assumed the shape of the soil beneath it. Picking these rusted pieces of steel up I noticed how very heavy they were...the only metal this heavy, apart from lead, was some manganese steel I had tried to pick up at the shipyard, many moons ago. Scattered around were lumps of molten material like furnace slag, interspersed with hundreds of fuse bodies, shell cases, washers and other less obvious bits and pieces. I can only assume that an explosion had taken place, perhaps a large quantity of ordnance had gone off, and the resultant white heat of the concentrated blaze had vitrified the rock and melted the steel of the containers. Just a theory, of course, and if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know! I can only imagine the cost to the taxpayer of all that ordnance going bang, although I guess they were going to shoot it anyway. The other mystery is that the site was still bare of grass, presumably since the fifties?
|The Dol Gain Copper Trial.|
|Looking out from the Opencut|
|Copper leaching from the walls of the adit.|
|Petra's photo of filamentous fungus growing on a dead moth in the mine. https://mydododied.tumblr.com/|
The trek back to the road was wonderful, the views across to the Moelwyns in the distance the stuff of postcards and amateur watercolours. If only James Dickson Innes had come a little further West from the Arenigs and painted here. Skylarks were singing, too- and Petra noted the odd fact that when they are climbing, the song goes up...when they are descending the song goes down...
One last thing occurred to me as we walked back. Surely if ammunition had exploded, there would be a crater, and a wider area of damage? I am mystified!
It has come to light that the burnt area where explosives/cordite were thought to have been burned was cordite from Croesor, which was taken by Cooks/ICI to dispose of. The source mentions "A site on the old firing range behind Bronaber". This was in 1971. source: AditNow forum
Keith O'Brien's collection of old photographs of the military camp here