On the southern outskirts of Manchester a group of British cavers recently uncovered a series of artefacts inside a cobalt mine that had not been explored for centuries. Among the finds were leather shoes, clay pipes, and a mysterious inscription written in candle soot.
The astonishing treasures were described in a statement released online on July 12 by the National Trust, a charity dedicated to heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A 200-year-old ‘time capsule’
In the heart of England's Chesire region, where the village of Alderley Edge is located, cobalt mining was a lucrative business for many years. But as time went on, imports became cheaper than English cobalt, and a significant number of mines were abandoned in the early 19th century.
This was the case with the Alderley Edge mine, which is now a place for exploration and caving. It was during one of these expeditions led by the National Trust that a group of cavers came across personal items left by miners in a previously unexplored part of the mine.
Ed Coghlan, a member of the Derbyshire Caving Club, said in the National Trust statement:
To find a mine in pristine condition, together with such personal objects and inscriptions, is rare.
It is a compelling window into the past and to the last day when the mine workers stopped their activities.
A mysterious inscription on a wall corner
In addition to the leather shoes and clay pipes, the cavers found a bowl buried in a wall, which could be a sign of superstitious miners thanking the mine for its quality ore, the report said.
Even more disturbing, on a corner of the wall is an inscription, ‘WS’, and a date, ‘20 August 1810’. ‘Our research so far has not identified who this could be’ explains Ed Coghlan.
Was it just an individual wanting to say, ‘I was here’, or from a visit by a mine manager or estate owner, or could it have been to indicate the last day this mine was in use?
This inscription was not the only one found in this disused mine. Coghlan explains:
We found other more basic initials and numbers in what we believe were the ‘cribs’ or rest areas, as if someone had been learning and practicing their writing.
If you would like to visit these historic sites from a distance, you can take a short video tour of the mine by following this link.
This article was translated from Gentside FR.