Both of these mines are within the grounds of Hawkstone Park (north of Shrewsbury), and although the park is open to the public only the cave system on Grotto Hill is accessible.
A major feature of Hawkstone is the Terrace an escarpment of Grinshill Sandstone (Triassic Keuper Sandstone), partly covered by Waterstones, with a detatched block of Grinshill Sandstone at the north-western end forming Grotto Hill.
Low grade mineralisation can be found both on the Terrace and Grotto Hill, but evidence for major mineralisation is lacking. Due to the lack of faulting in the area, these workings are generally considered to be trials.
Local legend suggests that the grotto on Grotto Hill, along with a shaft on the nearby Castle Hill were Roman copper mines. The discovery of a Roman villa at Weston and a hammer-pick at Hawkstone are not thought to be conclusive evidence for Roman mining activity. However, in line with recent discoveries of pre-Roman materials in Llanymynech Copper mine a few miles south of here, it should be noted that bronze weapons have been found locally - so the sites could have been an early British forts or look-outs.
Underground features on the Terrace and Grotto Hill include:
- A 3m deep shaft (NGR: SJ 587 292) connected to a 2.5m long level,
driven to the south-east, this connected to a 6m long, south to south-east
level which opened out onto the Terrace, where abundant traces of azurite
and malachite could be found. Sadly this feature was filled-in, in
- A grilled shaft on top of the Terrace, approximatly 1.8m diameter
in dense undergrowth.
- The Grotto 'cave' system - on top of Grotto Hill (NGR: SJ 572 298), where the mine workings were enlarged and converted into a 'folly'. in Victorian times (it has now been converted into "King Arthur's Labyrinth").
Malachite and barite can be seen in the rocks from the Grotto. The Club used the Grotto and hillside for field testing the underground location device, successfully plotting the boundaries of the underground chambers.
It is thought that the workings at Hawkstone date from the 1600's or early 1700's, before the park was purchased by the Sir Rowland family in 1737. Hill brought in folly builders - who seem to have used part of the mine workings!
Sir Rowland Hill created an amazing range of follies around the park, with caves, cliffs, narrow rock clefts, monuments, towers and dramatic cliff paths. Over the past few years the park and its follies (designated a Grade I landscape by English Heritage) have been carefully restored, and re-opened to the public.
Hawkstone Park and Follies is open to the public and visitors can explore nearly 100 acres of hilly terrain (including Grotto Hill and the Hermits Cave). A typical tour can take about 3 to 4 hours.
For more details about the park, opening times, admission charges, or advanced bookings, visit their web site at www.hawkstone.co.uk
Credits - Thanks to:
Hawkestone Park for allowing access to the Grotto and other areas.
Report: Kelvin Lake