Silver Mines


Rue Pré du Gué, 79500 Melle


The silver mines were exploited from the 7th to the 10th century and gave Melle a capital importance because, besides being the largest silver mine of the empire, the city also possessed one of the largest monetary workshops.

Corresponding to about twenty miles of galleries dug by man on several levels, the mines were exploited by the blasting technique due to the hardness of the rock. Vertical stakes were lit in the galleries, to make the stone explode. Silver galena was extracted there, which contained more lead than silver (on average, one gramme of silver per kilogramme of crude ore).

The mines ceased all activity at the end of the 10th century due to a lack of wood and were then rediscovered in 1830 because of the exploitation of a stone quarry.

 As part of a public commission, in 1989, Knud Viktor created "Eclats d'argent" (Silver Shards), a sound trail crossing all the mining galleries and now open to the public.

 




Partially accessible to people in wheelchairs or with reduced mobility