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University strikes Gold

24 July 2012

University strikes Gold

The former Head of the Mining and Minerals Engineering Section in the School of Engineering has completed a publication on the restoration of the old Roman gold mine, on the Dolaucothi Estate at Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire in South Wales.

Worked by the Celts, the Romans and in the first half of the twentieth century, the Dolaucothi Gold Mine is now a prime example of Wales's industrial heritage. The general interest grown from the University's activities at the gold mine in the early years of restoration encouraged the development by the National Trust to open the mine to the public. Visitors can now pan for gold and experience an underground guided tour at the mines in Pumsaint.

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The abandoned Dolaucothi Gold Mine was the site of a Cardiff University field centre for 21 years from 1978. The staff and students of Mining and Minerals Engineering and Mining Geology undertook the first five-year phase of making the mine safe. In conjunction with the National Trust, various stages of development then led to the Gold Mine taking on the appearance of a 1930s vintage metalliferous mine and represented a working example of industrial conservation.

Within this developing scene, the University, the National Trust and Gwent College of Higher Education established a three-year Education Project. Part of this collaboration involved working with primary school teachers and children in the production of teaching resource materials based on the Welsh literary heritage and the Romans.

Dr Alun Isaac
Dr Alun Isaac

As Mine Manager for the duration of the lease held by the University, Dr Alun Isaac gained a unique insight into remarkable discoveries and practical experiences of the students. Since 2001 Dr Isaac has edited and published books by a number of authors that led on to the book on the Dolaucothi project. 'I found the process of writing on a subject that had occupied such a long and rewarding period of my life, to be absorbing and pleasurable,' comments Dr Isaac.

Dr Isaac's book, Dolaucothi Gold – A Vision Realised, provides an account of the gold mine project, from 1978 to 1999, detailing the unique partnership involving Cardiff University, the National Trust and the Pumsaint and District community.

'The story of gold mining at Dolaucothi is a fascinating one with its historic and cultural connections that reach from pre-Roman times to the present,' says Dr Isaac, 'From the initial search for a Field Centre to the realisation of the opportunities presented at the long-abandoned gold mine at Dolaucothi, a vision for educational attainment and preservation of cultural heritage was created.'

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The book will be launched this week (Friday 27thJuly) at the School of Engineering and Dr Isaac encourages visits to the mine to experience this unique history and celebrate the thirty years of archaeological and geological research conducted at the site. 'At the present time, approximately 750,000 visitors have experienced the interest and enjoyment of a visit to the Dolaucothi Gold Mine,' says Dr Isaac, 'This reflects the development of the early vision of an educational resource to its present status as a centre for lifelong learning, industrial conservation and tourism.'

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