Emilianusstollen


Useful Information

Location: St. Barbara, Wallerfangen.
(49.330378, 6.679802)
Open: MAY to OCT once per month.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 4.
[2022]
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: D=1 h. Deutsch - German
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Landkreis Saarlouis, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 4-6, 66740 Saarlouis, Tel: +49-6831-449, Fax: +49-6831-427.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1976 Saarbergwerke AG secures the rear gallery area with a steel lining.

Geology

Azurite 2CuCO3.Cu(OH)2, locally also called Bergblau (mountain blue) forms a deposit called St. Barbara in Wallerfangen/Saar. The Saartal (Saar river valley) is situated at 180 m above sea level cutting into the plateau of the Saargau (340 m asl), the Buntsandstein (Lower Triassic) has a hard layer called Voltziensandstein, which is 20 m thick and forms an escarpment. This layer also contains the Lettenlagen, layers with a high clay content, as well as the so-called Bröckelbänke. Azurite is embedded in these two layers in low concentrations, mostly in the form of so-called soup lenses, but also as concretions up to the size of a fist.

Description

The Emilianusstollen (Emilianus tunnel) is a copper mine from the Roman period, the only direct evidence of underground ore mining in Central Europe from the Roman period. In general, the number of Roman-era mines north of the Alps is quite small. There are, however, some quarries as well as underground millstone quarries. The copper mineral azurite, famous for its blue colour, was mined in the Emilianus tunnel. It is still used today as a pigment for paint and became famous in later times under the name Wallerfanger Blau (Wallerfangen Blue).

There are actually two Emilianus tunnels, the upper and the lower one, the upper one is open to visitors. It has been converted into a show mine and has electric light. The galleries were named after a Latin inscription a few metres next to the gallery mouth of the Upper Emilianus gallery. It was written into the outcropping sandstone and is the only known mining inscription from the Roman Empire.

"INCEPTA OFFICINA EMILIANI NONIS MART".
The adit was begun by Emilianus on 9 March.

This is interpreted as a reference to the completion of a deadline. Apparently, a certain entrepreneur named Emilianus had acquired the concession to open this mining operation and started it on time. As early as Roman times, azurite was mined for its colour, not as a copper mineral. The blue pigment brought more than ten times its copper value. However, it was further processed into Egyptian Blue or cuprorivaite (CaCuSi4O10). This multiplied the value even more.

The azurite lenses from Wallerfangen contain a lot of mica and other clay minerals, which in turn have a high aluminium content. However, both azurite and cuprorivaite do not contain aluminium, and the high aluminium content is a characteristic of the Wallerfangen deposit. It can therefore be clearly detected in the blue colours of Roman buildings if they originate from Wallerfangen. In this way, it could be proven that it was used in many ways.