Visit to Ecton Hill – Bronze Age Copper Mine
On a glorious summer evening in the middle of a very wet summer, Knutsford SciBar visited Ecton Hill copper mine.
It was a very interesting evening with some eye opening concepts in the mine – like digging a mine with no lights or candles. Candles had been invented but were too expensive. The miners had to use the sparks from the hammer blows on the chisels for light – rather them than me!
First we walked up the hill to the engine house with the opportunity to examine some of the spoils left by the miners and, at the top, the magnificent view of the Manifold valley.
We then went into the depths of the mine itself.
Out again, and down to a local pub for a pint, in the best traditions of the SciBar. Then home to Knutsford for an excellent curry. A very enjoyable evening !
Why is Ecton so important and historic?
From Bronze Age times, the copper and lead deposits on Ecton Hill were worked for over 3500 years, ceasing in 1891. During this time fortunes were made and lost. In the 18th century the Duke of Devonshire made a profit of over £300,000 – said to have financed the building of the magnificent crescent in Buxton. Total ore production (mainly of copper ore) is estimated at over 100,000 tonnes.
The whole area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the Ecton mine itself is an underground SSSI. The rock exposures at nearby Ape’s Tor provide outstanding opportunities for the study of geological structures, which can then be seen again underground in Salt’s Level.