(Formerly known as 'the MHTI in the Harz')
In September 2003 the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland visited the unique mining area of the Harz in Germany. Iron, silver, copper, lead and zinc were intensively mined, milled and smelted in the Harz mountains from the 10th century, helped by the abundance of water and wood.
Exploring the historic mining remains is like stepping into the pages of Georgius Agricola's "De Re Metallica". First we visit the Oberharzer Bergwerksmuseum in Clausthal-Zellerfeld, with many models and artefacts collected from the area. In the reconstructed 1787 mineshaft building of August Caroliner Schacht, Andreas Ravens demonstrates some of the techniques including a 'rescue kibble'. Nearby is a superb animated man engine glockenspiel.
At the preserved Schachtanlage Kaiser-Wilhelm II we are supplied with suitable clothing to explore the ancient tunnels of the Oberharzer Wasserregal, built to supply power to hundreds of mine waterwheels and now providing drinking water and hydroelectric power.
The HQ of Harz mining from 1731 was the Clausthal Amtshaus, where we are shown the ornate boardrooms and historic artefacts including a visitors book signed by James Watt!
At Sankt Andreasburg, we visit Grube Samson of 1521 which has huge underground waterwheels on display including a reversing wheel for winding; and a man engine which is still used by engineers to inspect a hydroelectric generator 190m below!
90km South-East in the former DDR "East Germany" is Röhrigschacht mine where we descend 283m in the cage then catch the miners train for an 800m trip to the working face, a seam of copper-shale only 40cm high!
Der Rammelsberg UNESCO World Heritage Site has been mined continuously for over 1000 years. We are shown underground waterwheels used for winding and pumping and taken a long way beyond the tourist route to see astonishingly beautiful 12th century coffin levels stained all imaginable colours by the rich mineralisation.
Thomas Moritz shows us around the nearby town of Goslar which was built on the wealth of Rammelsberg and the many elegant medieval buildings show this very clearly.
Thanks to John Morris, Martin Critchley and Karen Többe for organising the visit, and to all the participants; to the staff of the mining museums; and particularly to Franz-Josef Rölleke, Helmut Radday, Volkmar Trunz, Justus Teicke, Lothar Lohff, Jochen Klähn, Erich Hartung, Hans-Georg Dettmer, Thomas Moritz & Brigitte Moritz-Heublein and all their colleagues for their enthusiastic help, showing us around and bringing the unparalleled mining heritage of the Harz to life. Glück Auf!
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The images on this page are taken from the video.