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HER Number:MDV25903
Name:Beckamoor Combe tin streamwork

Summary

An extensive and well-defined streamworks located between Cox Tor and Little Staple Tor. It extends southwards from SX5353 7570, but was not investigated south of SX5350 7500. It consists of a broad cutting, up to 4.5 metres deep, with near vertical sides. Within the cutting a complex of well-defined parallel water channels and spoil heaps represent the remains of extensive tin streamworking activity. Streaming appears to have continued here until at least 1860.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 537 747
Map Sheet:SX57SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishWhitchurch
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishWHITCHURCH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 57 NW 129
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57SW/72
  • Old SAM Ref: 22234
  • Pastscape: 919028

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • STREAMWORKS (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD to 1860 AD (Between))

Full description

Greeves, T. A. P., 1976, Merrivale Bridge Mine, Wheal Fortune & Staple Tor Sett, 1806-1887 (Article in Serial). SDV358455.


National Monuments Record, 1982, NMR SF2112, 1307, 1312 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345548.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Streamwork along river on east slope of Whitchurch Common. From SX53747471 to SX53457500. Cut through by the Grimstone and Sortridge leat.
Streamwork in valley between Cox Tor in the west, and Great, Middle and Little Tors, in the east. From SX53517500 in south, to approximately sx53557550 (northern borders to streamwork indistinct on 1946 vertical aerial photographs).


Wilson-North, R., 1991, Beckamoor Combe streamworks (Report - Survey). SDV269071.

An extensive and well-defined streamworks located between Cox Tor and Little Staple Tor. It extends southwards from SX 5353 7570, but was not investigated south of SX 5350 7500. It consists of a broad cutting, up to 4.5 metres deep, with near vertical sides. Within the cutting a complex of well-defined parallel water channels and spoil heaps represent the remains of extensive tin streamworking activity.
Streaming appears to have continued here until at least 1860.
See Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments in England Cox Tor Survey (1/2500 scale).


Gerrard, S., 1992, The Beckamoor Combe Streamwork Survey, 6 (Article in Serial). SDV269075.

Fine examples of the breast can be seen at A on the plan, while short lengths of stiling are still visible at B. The remains of tyes are abundant throughout the streamwork, but particularly fine examples survive at C.
The distribution of the waste banks at D indicates systematic working of the tin deposit by work areas aligned approximately north-east by south-west, while in the southern half of the streamwork the dumps are aligned north-south. Further work is required to confirm the reasons for this difference, but at present it is believed that the gradient of the hillslope is probably responsible, in the northern part of the streamwork the hillslope is steeper and therefore the tinners created work areas at an angle to the contour to compensate for this.
Abundant evidence for sophisticated water control was found. A series of at least five reservoirs to the north and west of the streamwork. Evidence for the leats leading to the tinwork survive very well on the west side where the two lowest reservoirs supplied water to four leats. Elsewhere short lengths of leat survive, though because of later activity not enough remains to allow identification of their original routes.
A small number of prospecting pits survive. A number of tinners' buildings were noted. The uppermost at E is a well preserved rectangular drystone structure with an entrance in the west wall. Another at F survives less well and was probably earlier in date. The area at H is relatively devoid of waste dumps probably due to 19th century reworking, and a large pit at I may also belong to this period. The earthworks in the south part of the streamwork are less clearly defined than those in the centre because, as exploitation continued upstream (i.e. north), some of the tailings were deposited in the lower reaches of the streamwork causing the earlier earthworks to be partly obscured.
Plane table survey at 1:500.


Newman, P., 1994, Fieldwork and survey at Beckamoor Combe 1994, 9-10 (Article in Serial). SDV236243.

Tinwork extends for 2.5 kilometres. A link has been found between the lowest known reservoir to the north of the road and the deep water channel just south of the road on the western side of the tinwork as well as subsidiary channels.


Gerrard, S., 1996, The Early South-Western Tin Industry: An Archaeological View, 67-83 (Article in Serial). SDV337901.


Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Area of streamworks depicted on the modern mapping. Map object based on this source.


English Heritage, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

The monument, which falls into six separate areas of protection, includes two eluvial streamworks and an earlier, prehistoric, coaxial field system, together with a range of other archaeological remains situated on Whitchurch Common.
The larger eluvial streamwork is 1.2km long while the part of it surviving within the monument extends from NGR SX53517572 to SX53797464. This streamwork survives as a substantial gully measuring up to 4m deep and 130m wide. In the bottom of this gully are a series of parallel banks representing spoil from the extraction process and the fossilised positions of the work areas known as tyes. Analysis of these banks has revealed at least six distinct phases of exploitation. Water, so necessary for the extraction of the eluvial tin, was carried to the site in a series of leats. It was stored in reservoirs close to the tinwork before being fed through another group of leats to the streamwork itself. Within the streamwork at its upper end is a small tinners' building complete with doorway and fireplace. The second streamwork lies to the west of the first one and survives as a 150m long gully containing a few parallel banks. This streamwork is earlier than the large one and in later years two reservoirs were constructed within it to serve the eastern tinwork.


Gerrard, S., c.1993, Beckamoor Coombe Streamwork (Un-published). SDV223124.

Beckamoor Coombe Tin Streamwork. Nine phases identified:
Phase I: This is the prehistoric phase of activity in the area. There is no evidence that the tinwork was being exploited during the prehistoric period. Area formed part of large field system at this time.
Phase II: This represents the first identifiable period of streamworking at Beckamoor Coombe. No precise dating available or extent of the activity. At the southern edge, phase IV re-working has removed earthworks of phase II, as have phase VII re-workings in vicinity of 'h' (see plan). For majority of its surviving length this phase probably survives to original width, as do its leats at upper end.
Phase III: survives almost completely, though truncated at the southern end by VII. Small building at upper end is built atop a waste dump. Waste water from this phase was carried in a channel down the west side. Many of the leats supplying nearby phase II truncated at this time.
Phase IV: clearly defined area damaged only by phase VI re-working at southern end and a drainage channel associated with V. Waste water was carried in a channel along west side. No surviving trace of leat system.
Phase V: small scale exploitation of deposits to the east. The leat system and drainage channel are clearly visible. Short-lived phase with only 3 or 4 work areas established before abandonment. Drainage gully cuts phase IV and is cut by phase VII.
Phase VI: The re-working of the deposits lying in the lower part of tinwork was carried out with aid of two reservoirs situated on the hillside to the west of the tinwork. These collected water which was then carried by leats to the tinwork. The work areas and waste dumps associated with this phase of re-working clearly cut Phase II and Phase IV streamworks.
Phase VII: Three areas of limited re-working and prospecting have been observed during this phase. The northernmost example is the most extensive, surviving as large, relatively flat low-lying area from which earlier dumps have been removed. Two small structures, which probably represent the bases for buildings survive within the northern part of this area. The central area includes a small number of prospecting pits dug into the side of Phase II and Phase VI earthworks. The third area includes a cross-shaped flat-bottomed pit surrounded by waste dumps. The size of this feature strongly suggests that it was more than a prospect, and it may represent a re-working which did not develop. This phase represents the last phase during which any tin extraction was carried out, and may be mid-19th century.
Phase VIII: A leat tapping water from the valley formed by the disused streamwork and another leading across the tinwork on an embankment form the features dating to this period.
Phase IX: The two features identified as belonging to this, the last phase are a small gravel quarry at the southern end of the streamwork and a Second World War mortar emplacement situated on its western edge. The quarry was probably associated with the construction of a causeway across the streamwork at the time when the present Princetown to Tavistock road was constructed . Prior to this the road was probably no more than a track and passed through the streamwork about 100 metres further to the north. The mortar emplacement includes a circular stone and earth bank surrounding an internal area. Three small sharp sided pits are situated immediately outside the structure and may represent possible ammunition pits. This feature has a fresh appearance on the 1946 Royal Air Force aerial photograph of this area and is one of about 40 such structures that occupy the lower slopes of Cox Tor and Little Mis Tor. Many of these structures have been previously identified as stone hut circles.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Un-published: Gerrard, S.. c.1993. Beckamoor Coombe Streamwork. A4 Stapled + Digital.
  • Article in Serial: Newman, P.. 1994. Fieldwork and survey at Beckamoor Combe 1994. Dartmoor Tin Working Research Group Newsletter. 7. Unknown. 9-10.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Report - Survey: Wilson-North, R.. 1991. Beckamoor Combe streamworks. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Unknown.
  • Article in Serial: Gerrard, S.. 1996. The Early South-Western Tin Industry: An Archaeological View. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in. 13, Number 2. A4 Paperback. 67-83.
  • Article in Serial: Gerrard, S.. 1992. The Beckamoor Combe Streamwork Survey. Dartmoor Tin Working Research Group Newsletter. 3. Unknown. 6.
  • Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1982. NMR SF2112. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1307, 1312.
  • National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • Article in Serial: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1976. Merrivale Bridge Mine, Wheal Fortune & Staple Tor Sett, 1806-1887. Plymouth Mineral and Mining Club Journal. 6.3. Photocopy + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV25907Related to: Grimstone and Sortridge Leat (Monument)
MDV56615Related to: LEAT in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)
MDV25902Related to: Leat on Whitchurch Common (Monument)
MDV61745Related to: Longhouse below leat on Whitchurch Common (Building)
MDV63575Related to: QUARRY in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)
MDV22779Related to: TINNERS RESERVOIR in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)
MDV51197Related to: TINNERS RESERVOIR in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)
MDV51198Related to: TINNERS RESERVOIR in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)
MDV51199Related to: TINNERS RESERVOIR in the Parish of Whitchurch (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:May 9 2016 4:21PM