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HER Number:MDV17240
Name:Streamworks on River Taw on Metheral Hill

Summary

Medieval and later streamworks situated on the River Taw and its tributaries, Steeperton Brook and Small Brook. The workings cover an area of 35 hectares and extend in patches from Taw Ford, one kilometre below the head of the river to a point 700 metres below the confluence with its major tributary, Steeperton Brook. Archaeological field surveys conducted in 1993 and 2003 found that the majority of the workings centred on the Taw are generally poorly preserved and irregular; the dumps have been reworked and there has been much encroachment by marsh. Two areas do, however, have good examples of streamworkings: an area of 15 hectares at Bow Combe, and 14 hectares north of Steeperton Tor. The former area comprises well preserved linear spoil heaps lying at an oblique angle to the present course of the stream. The revetments supporting the spoil heaps are largely intact while the cliffs marking the edges of this working are notably steep. The 14 hectares of workings forming the southern extremity of Taw Marsh at the foot of Steeperton Tor, though having been reworked, again display revetted linear spoil heaps and associated water channels this time running parallel to the River Taw. The eastern side is partly marked by a steep-sided gulley probably used to feed the edge of the workings with water taken from the Steeperton Brook. Two small islands of untouched deposits lie west of this channel within the workings. A further gulley (SX 68 NW 99) runs parallel to this slope. Several truncated leats, which served the streamworks are visible immediately outside the worked areas. These vary in width from 0.6 m to 1.5m wide and between 0.25m and 0.6m deep. Five tinners huts are situated within the streamworks.

Summary from record MDV27468:
Streamworks and spoilheaps visible on aerial photographs along both banks of Small Brook.

Summary from record MDV27698:
Well-preserved section of streamworking with linear spoil heaps lying at an oblique angle to the present course of the stream. The revetments supporting the spoil heaps are largely intact while the cliffs marking the edges of this working are notably steep.

Summary from record MDV42321:
Steeperton tor tin mine.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 621 894
Map Sheet:SX68NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
Civil ParishSouth Tawton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH TAWTON

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of an extensive area of medieval or later tin working on both sides of the River Taw at Taw Marsh as well as Taw Marsh Bronze Age reave on South Tawton Common
  • SHINE: Earthwork and structural remains of late 19th/early 20th century military observation post at Blackhaven Head, consisting of a stone-and-turf shelter
  • SHINE: Earthwork and walling remains of medieval or later streamworking along the Steeperton Brook as well as tinners' buildings and blowing houses

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX68NW84
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 966876
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NW/17/3
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NW/64
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NW/86
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SW/229
  • Pastscape: 966876

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (Constructed, Early Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1066 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • STREAMWORKS (Constructed, Early Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1066 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/3G TUD UK 138, 5438 (Aerial Photograph). SDV217995.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2082, 3279-81, 4379-80 (Aerial Photograph). SDV295065.

Osborne, F. M., 1979, The Church Wardens' Accounts of St. Michael's Church, Chagford 1480-1600 (Monograph). SDV252204.

Griffiths, F. M., 1982, Notes (Personal Comment). SDV253381.

(25/07/1982) SX61918973 Extensive signs of a tin working visible from opposite hill. Spoilheaps and general scatters of stone waste.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

SX61908792 Streamwork extending eastwards from the river, with clear banks radiating out. Further south it appears to be much more marshy. In the further south there is a scarp on the east side of the river. Visible on 1947 Royal Air Force aerial photography.
Streamworks and spoil heaps visible along both banks of Small Brook. Streamwork with scarp on the east side of the river at SX62838975. Extends northwards onto map sheet SX69SW. Visible on 1947 Royal Air Force aerial photographs.
This is an area of extensive tin working visible on the River Tw on the 1940s aerial photographs. Streamworks are visible with spoil heaps around SX61809015. Streamworks visible on both banks at SX6190 9140.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1985, Steeperton Tor Tin Mine, Dartmoor, 103, 1222 (Article in Serial). SDV310154.

Centred SX 6144 8853 Steeperton Tor Tin Mine. An area of extensive streamworking begins just below the ford (see sx68nw/23). This is likely to date in origin to the Medieval period.
Numerous references from 1487-1596 to Chagford tinners exploiting Taw Marsh (citing Devon Record Office documents).
A tinwork on Small Brook is recorded in 1562 (citing Osborne, 1979).

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit, S. Probert (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(10/08/1993) Centred SX 61938965. Approximately 35ha of streamworking remains on the River Taw and its tributaries, Steeperton Brook and Small Brook, within Dartmoor Forest Parish. The workings extend in patches from Taw Ford 1km below the head of the river to a point 700m below the confluence with its major tributary, Steeperton Brook. The majority of the workings centred on the Taw are generally poorly preserved and irregular; the dumps have been reworked and there has been much encroachment by marsh. Two areas do, however, display particularly good examples of streamworkings: 15ha at Bow Combe, centred
SX 61758766, and 14ha, centred at SX 61908980, north of Steeperton Tor. The former area possesses well preserved linear spoil heaps lying at an oblique angle to the present course of the stream. The revetments supporting the spoil heaps are largely intact while the cliffs marking the edges of this working are notably steep. The 14ha of workings forming the southern extremity of Taw Marsh at the foot of Steeperton Tor, though having been reworked, again display revetted linear spoil heaps and associated water channels this time running parallel to the River Taw. The eastern side is partly marked by a steep-sided gulley probably used to feed the edge of the workings with water taken from the Steeperton Brook. Two small islands of untouched deposits lie west of this channel within the workings. A further gulley (SX 68 NW 99) runs parallel to this soe 50 to 75m further up the slope of Metheral Hill.
The remains of several truncated leats are visible immediately outside the worked areas. The leats vary in width from 0.6m to 1.5m wide and between 0.25m and 0.6m deep. In most cases their sources and destinations are unclear though it is certain that they served the streamworkings.
Five tinners huts (SX 68 NW 29, 31, 37 and 85 and SX 69 SW 72) lie within the streamworked area. All are broadly rectangular single roomed structures though one (SX 69 SW 72) is slightly larger, better constructed and reminiscent of a blowing house or stamping mill. There is, however, no ground evidence to confirm this interpretation.
The remains of Knack Mine (OS 1:10,000, 1988) (Monument HOB UID 619188) overlie a small area of streamworks on the Taw immediately west of Steeperton Gorge. Numerous documentary references to workings on the Taw and Small Brook between 1487 and 1594 are cited by Greeves (1981).

Probert, S. A. J. + Newman, P., 2003-2004, Measured survey North Dartmoor Military Range Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey, S. Probert (Report - Survey). SDV350801.

(24/10/2003) These remains are as described in 1993.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV217995Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/3G TUD UK 138. Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5438.
SDV252204Monograph: Osborne, F. M.. 1979. The Church Wardens' Accounts of St. Michael's Church, Chagford 1480-1600. The Church Wardens' Accounts of St. Michael's Church, Chagford 1480-1600. Unknown.
SDV253381Personal Comment: Griffiths, F. M.. 1982. Notes. Not Applicable.
SDV295065Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2082. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3279-81, 4379-80.
SDV310154Article in Serial: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1985. Steeperton Tor Tin Mine, Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 117. 103, 1222.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV350801Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Newman, P.. 2003-2004. Measured survey North Dartmoor Military Range Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. 28-2004. Unknown. S. Probert.
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown. S. Probert.

Associated Monuments

MDV132813Parent of: Tinner's hut in area of streamworking on Steeperton Brook (Monument)
MDV132819Parent of: Water channel on Taw Marsh (Monument)
MDV128742Related to: Circular shelter close to enclosure, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV103566Related to: Enclosure north-east of Steeperton Gorge (Monument)
MDV4389Related to: Former clapper Bridge north of Knack Mine, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV7746Related to: Tinners' hut in streamworking along Steeperton Brook (Building)
MDV128741Related to: Tinners' hut in the Small Brook streamworks, South Tawton (Building)
MDV7747Related to: Tinners' hut within streamworking west of Steeperton Brook (Building)
MDV13007Related to: Tinner's hut, Steeperton Brook (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project
  • EDV8679 - Okehampton Range: Management Survey
  • EDV8291 - Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey
  • EDV8695 - Survey of Okehampton North Dartmoor Military Range
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Apr 27 2022 10:20AM