At Dracot Cerne is good quantity of vitriol-oare, which with galles turnes as black as inke.
About the beginning of the raigne of King James the First, Sir Walter Long [of Dracot] digged for silver, a deep pitt, through blew clay, and gott five pounds worth, for sixty pounds charges or more. It was on the west end of the stable: but I doubt there was a cheat put upon him. Here are great indications of iron, and it may be of coale; but what hopes he should have to discover silver does passe my understanding. There was a great friendship between Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Long, and they were allied: and the pitt was sunk in Sir W. Raleigh’s time, so that he must certainly have been consulted with. I have here annexed Sir James Long’s letter.
“Mr. Aubrey, I cannot obey your commands concerning my grandfather’s sinking of pitts for metalls here at Draycott, there being no person alive hereabouts who was born at that time. What I have heard was so long since, and I then so young, that there is little heed to be taken of what I can say; but in generall I can say that I doe believe here are many metalls and mineralls in these parts; particularly silver-oare of the blew sort, of which there are many stones in the bottome of the river Avon, which are extremely heavy, and have the hardnesse of a file, by reason of the many minerall and metalline veines. I have consulted many bookes treating of minerall matters, and find them suite exactly with the Hungarian blew silver oare. Some sixteen or eighteen yeares ago in digging a well neer my house, many stones very weighty where digged out of the rocks, which also slaked with long lyeing in the weather. I shewed some to Monsieur Cock, since Baron of Crownstronie in Sweden, who had travelled ten yeares to all the mines in North Europe, and was recommended to me by a London merchant, in his journey to Mindip, and staied with me here about three weekes. He told me the grains in that oare seemed to be gold rather than copper; they resembled small pinnes heads. Wee pounded some of it, and tried to melt the dust unwashed in a crucible; but the sulphur carried the metall away, if there was any, as he said. He has been in England since, by the name of Baron Crownstrome, to treat from his master the King of Sweden, over whose mines he is superintendant, as his father was before him. The vitriol-oare we find here is like suckwood, which being layd in a dry place slakes itself into graine of blew vitriol, calcines red, and with a small quantitie of galles makes our water very black inke. It is acid tasted as other vitriol, and apt to raise a flux in the mouth. Sir, yours, &c.
August 12, 1689. J. L”. ___________________________________
“In the parish of Great Badminton, in a field called Twelve Acres, the husbandmen doe often times plough up and find iron bulletts, as big as pistoll bulletts; sometimes almost as big as muskett bulletts”. Dr. Childrey’s Britannia Baconica, p. 80. ["Britannia Baconica, or the Natural Rarities of England, Scotland, and Wales, historically related, according to the precepts of Lord Bacon”. By Joshua Childrey, D.D. 1661. 8°.]