The British Geological Society has asked mining companies and enthusiasts to dig through their plans in an effort to unearth the oldest mining plan ever created in Britain.

The society wants to create a national database of non-coal mining plans dating before 1872, when it was mandatory to deposit mine plans to the UK’s Mining Records Office.

A variety of official collections, catalogues and indexes of non-coal mine plans are available, but these are part of the total holdings thought to be in excess of 40,000 documents.

There are more mine plans in existence than those officially on record, according to the society.

The Geological Society says that older mining plans are helping in identifying voids caused by underground mining activity, which could create future hazards to people and assets and reduce property values with ground movement.

The records could also help unlock secrets of past distribution and extraction of mineral resources.