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The Roman level. When Pot Shaft was excavated, we were able to prove that this horizontal passage in Engine Vein connecting Pot Shaft to the workings was mined in Roman times, probably in the first century AD.  The passage is larger than mediaeval and 18th C workings and is neatly cut with large sweeping pick marks showing it was dug from the shaft (behind the dog) to the mine (behind the camera). 

The picture to the left shows a person standing in the Roman passage to give it scale.  Compare this with the picture to the below on the right.  To the right is a  view looking up the Pot Shaft showing the almost square cross-section but with the gentle twist which is believed to have arisen when the miners built stagings at regular intervals.  We think that the mining below each staging was continued by eye and not necessarily aligned exactly with the shaft above.  On the floor of the shaft, covered by mine spoil, were three planks which have given a very early carbon date for the shaft.

For comparison, we have reproduced a photograph on the right (supplied kindly by Martin Straßburger) that shows a Roman level in the Wallerfangen copper mines in Germany.  These were excavated in very similar Triassic sandstone.  The tunnel was driven away from the photographer.

Left is one of the shafts at Wallerfangen showing that the Romans were not too choosey about circular or square shafts.


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