Sygun Copper Mine

Useful Information

Location: Beddgelert, Gwynant Valley, Snowdonia National Park.
From Beddgelert follow A498 east 2 km, turn right.
(53.018654, -4.081875)
Open: MAR to OCT daily 9:30-16.
FEB Half Term 10-16.
For details: 24 Hour Info Line Tel: +44-1766-510101..
Fee: Adults GBP 7.99, Children GBP 5.99, Seniors GBP 6.99.
Group discounts.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self-guided audiovisual tours
Bibliography: D. Bick (1987): A History of Sygun, 24 pp illus.
Chris Howes (2002): Sygun Mine for sale GBP 450,000, Descent (167) pp 4 & 7. (Page 4 is an advert. Page 7 is editorial comment)
Address: Sygun Copper Mine, Beddgelert, Snowdonia LL55 4NE, Wales, Britain, Tel: +44-1766-890595. E-mail: contact
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.


1836 prospectus was issued.
1841 Henry McKellar bought the mine.
1843 seventeen men were working in the mine.
1862 mine was no longer profitable.
1882 Henry Maudslay and Charles Kneebone took over the mine.
1897 Stanley Elmore registered as the owner.
1903 finally closed.
1907 plant and equipment transferred to Elmore's other copper mine at Glasdir near Dolgellau..
1958 site transformed into a Chinese village for a film.
1983 entrance tunnel to the main adit dug by hand.
1986 opened to the public.
1987 British Tourist Authority Come to Britain Award.
1988 Prince of Wales award as a tourist attraction.



The former copper mine shows the typical machinery of a 19th century mine.

The main sight of the mine tour are extraordinary colourful speleothems. The mine workings were abandoned in this part of the mine some 150 years ago, a time span which seems pretty short for huge speleothems to form. The stalactites are thin but more than a metre long. The usual calcite cave formations grow only 1 cm in 100 years. But the speleothems of Sygun Copper Mine are composed of ferric oxides, which form very fast growing speleothems.


Like most metal mines in Wales, it is said that the Romans were here first, although, todate, no evidence has been found. In 1836 a prospectus was issued and the mine worked for 6 or 7 years. In 1841 Henry McKellar bought the mine and in 1843 it is recorded that seventeen men were working in the mine. By 1862 the mine was no longer profitable but in 1882 Henry Maudslay and Charles Kneebone took over the mine. Still unable to make it pay they enlisted the help of Stanley Elmore and in 1897 he was registered as the owner and he built a mill for the Elmore Flotation Process. The mine still failed to make a profit and finally closed in 1903. In 1907 all the plant and equipment was transferred to Elmore's other copper at Glasdir near Dolgellau.

The site was transformed into a Chinese village in 1958 for the film, ”The Inn of the Sixth Happiness„ starring Ingrid Bergman.


Entry is via the Main Adit at the same level as the car park. This was excavated by hand in 1983, over 100 tons of debris was removed leaving a roomy 2 m high passage. Two guides took us in. There are a series of 5 pre-recorded commentaries in Welsh, English French and German. The first one was a bit long but they were over all, very good and informative. We had the obligatory blasting scenario where the bang went off, the lights went out, and the earth moved. This trip lasts about ¾ hour and is very ambitious with an ascent, up iron stairways for 46 m, which includes winding tunnels and colourful caverns. The tour exits via the Victoria Level, halfway up the mountain with breathtaking views of the Gwynant Valley and the surrounding Snowdonia range. The journey back down to the entrance reminded me of trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas, thick rhododendron bushes in full bloom on either side of the steep pathway.

The Visitors Centre offers refreshments and a wide range of souvenirs including a video of how the mine was reopened. There is also a series of interpretative displays in Netherlandish, Spanish and Russian. There is free parking, Riverside Walks and Picnic areas

Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.