The History of Mining
According to legend, the mercury in Idria was discovered in 1490 by a woodenware maker when soaking a tub in a spring near the present-day church of the Holy Trinity. Overnight, a heavy silvery liquid accumulated in the tub. The man took his find to the bishop’s town of Loka and showed it to a goldsmith, who quickly realized what it was. The news about the invaluable discovery spread quickly and the valley was soon flooded with miners from Friuli, Carinthia, and Tyrol, who began searching, digging, and washing the mercury-bearing rocks. A mining town emerged in the previously uninhabited valley. The origin of the name Idria is unknown and dates back to the pre-mining era. A similarity with the old Greek name for a water jug (Hydria) or mercury (Hydrargyros) appears to be coincidental.