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The Cwmystwyth Mines[/caption]
It is extraordinary suddenly to see, driving along a narrow track of a road between towering mountains as I did yesterday, on both sides of the road the crumbling skeletal remains of the vast Cwmystwyth Mines: suddenly all the greenery was gone and everything was black, even the hills that were the backdrop to the buildings. It was an eery, sad place that looked as if it could be another world. Mining has taken place there since the Bronze Age, of silver, lead, copper and zinc, and only ceased in the early 1900s; it was dangerous work, and most miners failed to live beyond 32, dying of acute lead poisoning.
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The road from Rhayader to Aberystwyth[/caption]
It was a hard life altogether there, for not only was the occupation filthy and dangerous but the remote mountainous location in the middle of nowhere meant farming was difficult, food scarce and the climate inhospitable: the community there would have been cut off for many months of a harsh Welsh winter, and survival would have been challenging for many reasons.
As I paused and looked at the desolate, blackened remains, ghosts walked. It was easy to see, in the watching silence where no birds sang, the shades of the men women, children and animals who worked and walked the place over thousands of years, to hear the industrial clamour desecrating the peace and beauty of one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and to feel the suffering of such a life but also the joy of a close-knit, interdependent community.
While the Cwmystwyth Mines were all to do with matter, there was a spiritual dimension to them too, of course, and this was proven with the discovery just ten years ago of the Ban Ty'nddol sun-disc, the earliest gold artefact ever found in Wales. Over four thousand years old, it was used in funerary ritual, and it is evidence that more than mining took place there. So many ghosts and memories……..and I wonder how many people who drive past or stop to look, are among those ghosts?]]>