Maison de la Mine à Locmaria-Berrien

Ancienne Mine de plomb argentifère d'Huelgoat

Useful Information

Location: 3 rue ti ker, 29690 Poullaouen.
(48.353695, -3.694910)
Open: JUN to SEP Wed-Sun 14-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Guided EUR 5.
Classification: SubterraneaMining Museum MineLead Mine MineSilver Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Maison de la Mine à Locmaria-Berrien, 3 rue ti ker, 29690 Poullaouen.
Association de Sauvegarde de l'Ancienne Mine, Mairie, Bourg, 29690 Locmaria-Berrien, Tel: +33-6-85-25-07-08. E-mail:
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.


1st century BC mine exploited by the Celts.
16th century mine reactivated.
1750-1866 heydays of the mine.
1991 Association de Sauvegarde de l'Ancienne Mine (ASAM, Association for the Protection of the Old Mine) founded.
JUN-2014 mining museum opened to the public.


The lead ore is a gangue, vertical cracks in the granite which were filled with ores by hydrothermal convection.


Maison de la Mine à Locmaria-Berrien (Mine House at Locmaria-Berrien) is a mining museum located in the small village Locmaria-Berrien. The small museum is operated by the Association de Sauvegarde de l'Ancienne Mine (ASAM, Association for the Protection of the Old Mine). THe mining museum is also called Espace Muséal Minier Albert Le Guern (Albert Le Guern Mining Museum).

The museum shows the history of the nearby ancient lead mines, which were first mined by the Celts in the 1st century BC, later by the Romans. This was possible as the ore in the hills was higher than the nearby valley which drained the mines. The mining started obviously from the surface in open casts. Its unclear if mining ended when the groundwater was reached or if it ended with the end of the Roman Empire. They were reopened for some time during the 16th century. The mining was above the level of the valley, the mines were drained by adits.

The heydays of the mine were between the 18th and 19th century. The mine was operated by the Compagnie des mines de Basse Bretagne which was founded in 1732. They were the owner of the concession, and exploited this deposit as well as that of Poullaouën located 7km to the east. When the mines were reopened around 1750, they were first operated by miners from Wales. Around 1760 the depth became the main problem, the valley was only 80 m deeper than the hill, below this level it was not possible to drain the mines with an adit. As a result, the mines were operated by miners from Germany, the Harz, the Erzgebirge and Bavaria. Both countries had a long tradition in mining, and the miners were very skilled, but the miners from the Harz had the knowledge to pump water out of mines. The main problem was pumping out the water, which was done with huge hydraulic machines. Like in the Harz, water power was used to drive pumps, this was high-end technology of that time. The huge canal system, the dams and locations where the wooden waterwheels were located are the only remains of the mines.

In 1770, the mining company employed 1300 people on the sites, and 400 off site, for transport of the ore, and for the production of charcoal for the furnaces. This made it the largest mine in the kingdom. The locals were only employed for unskilled labour. There were almost 20 shafts, several were 200 m to 300 m deep, and several kilometers of galleries were dug. In 1832, the mine was equipped with 2 coupled water column machines, with bronze lifting pumps, which weighed 16 tons. They were developed by the Alsatian engineer Junker, and drained the mines between 1832 and 1866. They were able to pump more than 5,000 m³ of water per day from a depth of 200 m.

The mine was reopened several times during the 20th century but without success. The last attempt was in 1934.

The museum is a good starting point for the site. But the former mining site with all the channels, lakes and other remains of the water management of the mine is located 2 km to the west. Follow the road to the west, through the hamlet Kerliou Vraz, about 300 m later take the second road on the right, which is unsigned. The site is located halfway between Locmaria-Berrien and Huelgoat. There is a trail that is marked and has explanatory signs at the most interesting stops. One of the highlights is a waterwheel with 6 m in diameter, which is actually only half the original size. There is also a model of a mine shaft headframe in the scale 1:5.