Remains of copper mine, Penmaen Melyn, near St Davids
Here the coast path runs over a small area of levelled ground, with the foundations of a building on the seaward side. This was the location of the Treginnis copper mine.
It’s thought the mine existed by the 1820s. The presence of minerals here was recorded in 1839 by the eminent geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchinson in his book on the Silurian system. He didn’t mention the mine but the tithe map of 1840/41 shows two buildings here labelled ‘Cuba’ with a track leading to them, which certainly must have been mining related.
The mine was apparently worked intermittently until an accident in 1883. John Reynolds was being winched up the mine shaft, which was about 20 metres deep, when the rope jerked and he fell out of the “tub”, suffering fatal injuries. On his deathbed he claimed colleagues disliked him and would deliberately jerk the rope. Two men were charged with manslaughter but discharged. John left his wife Phebe and two children.
The 1888 OS map shows the mine as disused. There was an unsuccessful attempt to reopen the mine in 1907. The mineral mined was chalcopyrite, copper iron sulphide (CuFeS2) in a vein of quartz.
A little to the south is Pen Dal-aderyn, the Welsh mainland’s most westerly point. Here also is the narrowest section of Ramsey Sound, between the mainland and island opposite. It was notoriously difficult for mariners. Three men from the St Davids lifeboat died in 1910 while going to the aid of a stricken ketch in the sound, as you can read on our page about their memorial in St Davids.
About the name 'Pen Dal-aderyn':
The name appears to denote a headland where birds were caught. It was recorded as Pen dal aderyn in 1843 and Trwyn Talderyn in 1840. It almost certainly contains pen ‘head’, tâl ‘head, end’ and aderyn ‘a bird’, with one instance of trwyn ‘headland’ (or ‘nose’). Its precise sense is uncertain because pen, tâl and trwyn are close in meaning but it is possible that the headland was once called simply Tâl Aderyn – denoting a headland notable for birds. Pen may have been added later through confusion of tâl with dal ‘to catch’, influenced perhaps by the once common practice of catching birds and taking their eggs for consumption.
With thanks to Michael Statham, of the Welsh Stone Forum, and to Richard Morgan of the Welsh Place-Name Society/Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru