Freemining of Iron

Clearwell Caves is a working mining museum where for thousands of years ochre and iron ore have been mined. The impressive caverns are natural, but have been extended by miners to create a subterranean network to explore. This project will help visitors to understand the history of the mines and their place in the Forest by providing interactive interpretation in a variety of formats.  Current mining concentrates on ochre to produce red, yellow, purple and brown powders used as artist's pigment. There is an opportunity to learn more about the process of extracting ochre as part of training for future Freeminers.

How to Get Involved:


  • You could be a mining trainee, learning where and how to extract ochre.
  • If your family used to be iron miners you may be able to tell their stories and add to the history of Forest of Dean iron mining.
  • You may be able to assist in researching the history of the iron mines and help create new interpretive displays.

If you would like to get involved in this project, please contact

Forest Voluntary Action Forum tel:  01594 822073  email:

Before November 2016 this project will:

  • Run taster sessions for potential trainee miners
  • Create and collate draft material for displays and an interpretive audio tour.

From 2017 - 2022 the project will:

  • Create displays above and below ground to show the development of local iron mining, iron making and Freemining, using video, touch screen and static displays.
  • Provide audio interpretation / commentary on handsets for visitors
  • Improve access  and interpretation for visitors to the working ochre processing area
  • Train at least 2 people with the potential to become Freeminers in ochre mining and processing techniques

Project lead:

Jonathan Wright  Tel: 01594 832535  e:mail:

Freemining of Iron