BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NOVY KNIN GOLD DISTRICT AND THE KOCABA VALLEY AREA

The picturesque Kocaba river is also called the Snake River, because between two towns on their banks - Novy Knin and Stechovice with only about 10 km of a straight-lined distance the river meanders a distance of 19 km. The valley cuts through the central part of Vltava plateau, build by slightly metamorphosed complex of sedimentary and volcanic rocks of upper proterozoic age. Here and under the neighbouring hills gold lies concealed. The centre of this district is the town of Novy Knin, which recieved a royal charter as a mining town in medieval times.

The first miners in the area were the Celts. The evidence for this was presented by Professors Posepny and Barvir, who studied old workings and the Celtic gold coins treasure found in Stradonice near Beroun. The purity and composition of gold in these coins correspond well with that of native gold from Kramy, Chvojna and Libcice (964/1000). The first record of Novy Knin dates from the year 1186, when Margrave Konrad Ota of Znojmo came to meet the Czech Duke Bedrich and sign the treaty of union between Bohemia and Moravia. As time passed in the Kingdom of Bohemia, Novy Knin grew in importance, becoming a Royal Mining Town in 1330. Famous emperor Charles IV established vineyards in the area, and under the rule of his son, Wenceslas IV, the local mines Kamlova and Kryk were added together with the mines at Slojir in the Jilove district. These mines were largest providers of gold to the royal treasury. Development continued until July 1424, when the Hussite leader Jan Zizka of Trocnov burned the town Novy Knin to the ground. The mines were sacked and these shafts were destroyed and filled in.

In the year 1437 King Zikmund granted a new charter to the miners of Novy Knin but nobody knows how and when the town lost these rights. Around 1450, miners renewed the workings in almost all the mines. King George of Podebrady regained the lost mining charter of Novy Knin and once again mining flourished. In the archives of the Prague Mint we can find references concerning gold production from Novy Knin. For example, it is recorded that from March to June,1572, the local Burgomeister provided 850 g of gold ( approx. 27 1/2 oz.) to the mint and that in 1578 the Mlada Kamlova mine produced a gold bar of 83 g from 1 600 kg of ore, thus giving a grade of 52 g per ton. Similar records continue untill 1620 and the Battle of Bila Hora..

The 30 year war. Inter Arma Silent Leges. It didnīt matter which army had control of the region. Mercenary soldiers pillaged and stole what they could. The district became poorer and poorer and this went on until October 1634, when the army of General Baner burned the town and filled in the mines again. After this period of warfare only one third of the population remained in the area. The next new mining activity began again in 1634, and reconstruction of the town was started in 1660. This period of mining never achieved the same importance as that of the previous times, and by 1700 it had dwindled to insignificance.

The old dressing floors and mills along the banks of the Kocaba river (which served originally for crushing ore) were modified to mill grain and to saw timber, but the mines were never completely abandoned. From time to time attemps were made to reopen old shafts and adits and rework old dumps. In 1912 Count Sylva - Tarrouca founded a new mine on the Horice hill near Libcice. In 1914 a new adit was driven from the Kocaba valley at state expense. Not far away, another adit was driven in the early 1950s. This is now used by the Department of Thermodynamics of the Czech Academy of Science.

Now itīs a matter of speculation why mining in the region ceased; certainly there are still resources remaining beneath Vesely Hill situated nearby at Mokrsko, where the biggest gold resource in central Europe was discovered as a result of exploration during the period 1970 - 1990. This more than 100 t of gold reserves (approx. 3 226 000 oz.) is, however, part of a new chapter in the story of gold mining in this region