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HER Number:MDV4250
Name:Tin Mill between Dry Lake and River Erme, Harford


Remains of a tin mill at the junction between Dry Lake and the River Erme which may have been a blowing-house or knacking-mill


Grid Reference:SX 639 633
Map Sheet:SX66SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishHarford
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishHARFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX66SW70
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66SW/13
  • Old SAM County Ref: 811
  • Pastscape: 442378

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TIN MILL (Constructed, Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Crossing, W., 1890 - 1891, Western Antiquary, 218 (Monograph). SDV154702.

Crossing, W., 1912 (1965), Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, 399 (Monograph). SDV320981.

Worth, R. H., 1940, The Dartmoor Blowing House, 248-249 fig.10 (Article in Serial). SDV154693.

Worth, R. H., 1941, Dartmoor: 1788 - 1808, 206 (Article in Serial). SDV160667.

Tin mill on the right bank of Drylake. Drylake (left lake). On the right bank of Drylake is a building which is either a blowing house or a knacking mill. Raised bank to conduct water to the wheel. No mortar or mould stone found. A lot of debris had to be excavated. Leat comes from the Erme, about 335m long, higher than is needed to feed the wheel, and water could pass over the wheel, or in the alternative direction to the Drylake, through a walled outlet. Water from this outlet was probably used for washing the pulverised ore. The mortar stone was found in the river close to the left bank below Lower Drylake, and may have come from here. Plan.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 195 (Monograph). SDV149229.

Remains of a probable blowing-house can be seen close to the junction of Dry Lake and the Erme.

National Monuments Record, 1969, NMR SX6463, 3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV165976.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1977, SX66SW70 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV165903.

At SX 6399 6336 are the remains of a blowing-house/knacking-mill measuring 4.5m by 6.0m internally with walling averaging 0.8m thick and 0.7m high. The north-east wall, cut back into the hillslope, is 1.9m high though little remains of the south-eastern wall. There are no visible remains of furnace, wheel-pit, mortar-or mould-stones. The condition of the blowing-house/knacking-mill has deteriorated considerably since Worth's visit.
Surveyed 1:10 000 on MSD.

Hankin, C. F., 1977-1979, Harford Parish Checklist (Worksheet). SDV149931.

(-/5/1976). The building has probably deteriorated since Worth's survey in 1940. Only two walls can be said to stand, the east wall against the bank and part of the shorter north wall. The west wall (nearest the river) is no more than a heap of rubble, overgrown with bracken in the summer months. The leat can be traced from where the wheel stood in the high bank of the east side, to the point upstream where the water was taken off the Erme, c.335m upstream (Worth's measurement).

Greeves, T. A. P., 1981, List of Doubtful Devon Tin Mills c1450-c1750, No.14 (Un-published). SDV336693.

Building with leat leading to it. Likely to have been a tin mill but status not proven.

Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV342809.

(05/06/1982) Field Monument Warden visit.

Greeves, T. + Robinson, R., 1984, Survey of the Lower Drylake Tin Mill (Plan - measured). SDV165899.

Site surveyed at 1:100 by Greeves and Robinson (26/6/1984).

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

Building visible on aerial photograph and recorded on map overlay.

Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I., 1995, The Tin Industry, Step 3 Site Assessments: Devon (Report - Assessment). SDV346887.

A Medieval or later stamping mill with walls surviving to a maximum height of 1.8 metres. There is a poorly defined wheelpit and an extensive leat system.

Greeves, T. A. P., 2017, Lodges and Mills: The Field Archaeology of Tin Accommodation, Stamping and Smelting on Dartmoor, 68, table 1 (Article in Serial). SDV363284.

Lower Dry Lake (SX 6400 6337) listed by Greeves as an early tin mill (pre-1750).

Newman, P., 2018, Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet) (Cartographic). SDV361913.

Newman, P., 2018, The Upper Erme Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, Appendix 1 (Report - Survey). SDV362921.

A probable tin mill, of medieval or post-medieval date, built into the foot of the escarpment, 24 metres from the River Erme on the eastern side of the river, where joined by the Dry Lake tributary. The well-built rectangular structure measures 5.7 metres by 3.7 metres, with walls a little over 0.6 metres thick. The eastern wall is in the best condition, forming a revetment against the scarp and standing to over 1.5 metres. The other three walls have collapsed, including the southern wall which is almost at ground level. The entrance was on the north side, where a further revetment extends from the building to retain the slope, described by Worth as a leat embankment, but unlikely given the absence of a wheelpit. The earthwork remains of a leat extend from the scarp above the building for 316 metres back to a bend in the River Erme, and would have supplied water to the waterwheel. However, no wheelpit can be identified associated with the structure and no artefacts, such as mortar stones or mould stones have been found at this site to authenticate its status as a tin mill. The building is surrounded by marshy ground and the interior is also very wet and marshy.

Various, 2018-2020, PALs Condition Recording forms, UE-31 (Worksheet). SDV362781.

(14/02/2019) SX 6400 6335 Recorded by volunteer condition assessor. Condition assessed as good. The east wall and half of the north wall, cut into the hillside, stand to a height of 2.0m or more (it is not clear where ground level is because of tumbled stones covering the floor). The other two and a half sides of the building have been taken down to less that 0.5m. These are now completely overgrown with sphagnum moss and course grasses and reeds are beginning to encroach.

Various, 2018-2020, PALs Condition Recording photographs (Photograph). SDV363073.

Photographs taken in February 2019.

Ordnance Survey, 2019, MasterMap 2019 (Cartographic). SDV362729.

'Blowing House (remains of)' shown on modern mapping as a small rectangular building at the junction between Dry Lake and thr River Erme.

Historic England, 2019, National Heritage List for England, 1002609 (National Heritage List for England). SDV362730.

The monument includes a tin mill situated on the northern bank of Dry Lake close to its confluence with the River Erme. The tin mill survives as a small rectangular drystone building measuring up to 5.5 metres long by 3.8 metres wide internally. The walls survive differentially and measure up to 0.7 metres wide and 1.9 metres high although in several places they are considerably lower. The building is terraced into the slope. The eastern end of the north wall is thicker and may be slightly raised for a launder to take water to the wheel pit which is preserved as a buried feature. A leat leads towards the building from several hundred metres upstream off the River Erme. A mortar stone was found in the bed of the River Erme some distance downstream and is thought to have come from this building. However, no mould or mortar stones are currently visible in or around the structure. The tin mill lies within an extensive area of tin working.

Greeves, T. A. P., 2019, Supplementary information on the Upper Erme Valley 2018 survey (Un-published). SDV363283.

First visited on 16.9.1971, detailed follow up visit 29.7.1975. Planned at 1:100 (Greeves and R. Robinson, 26/06/1984) Noted that there was ‘Still no absolutely conclusive evidence of its status as a mill but NB the kink in the leat where there is a slight stone platform built out towards the mill. Also the leat cannot have served any other useful purpose than for a mill, so Greeves is inclined to accept this as a definite mill site.’

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 195.
SDV149931Worksheet: Hankin, C. F.. 1977-1979. Harford Parish Checklist. Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV154693Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1940. The Dartmoor Blowing House. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 72. 248-249 fig.10.
SDV154702Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1890 - 1891. Western Antiquary. Western Antiquary. 10. 218.
SDV160667Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1941. Dartmoor: 1788 - 1808. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 73. Unknown. 206.
SDV165899Plan - measured: Greeves, T. + Robinson, R.. 1984. Survey of the Lower Drylake Tin Mill. 1:100.
SDV165903Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1977. SX66SW70. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV165976Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1969. NMR SX6463. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3.
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.
SDV320981Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1912 (1965). Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 399.
SDV336693Un-published: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1981. List of Doubtful Devon Tin Mills c1450-c1750. Unknown. No.14.
SDV342809Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Unknown.
SDV346887Report - Assessment: Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I.. 1995. The Tin Industry, Step 3 Site Assessments: Devon. English Heritage Report. Unknown.
SDV361913Cartographic: Newman, P.. 2018. Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet). GIS ShapeFile. Digital. [Mapped feature: #122411 ]
SDV362729Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2019. MasterMap 2019. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV362730National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2019. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1002609.
SDV362781Worksheet: Various. 2018-2020. PALs Condition Recording forms. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital. UE-31.
SDV363073Photograph: Various. 2018-2020. PALs Condition Recording photographs. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV122886Related to: Dry leat channel near Dry Lake, Harford (Monument)
MDV28124Related to: Small area of tin streamworks to the south of the River Erme, Cornwood (Monument)
MDV13210Related to: Streamworks along Dry Lake and Left Lake, Harford (Monument)
MDV13224Related to: Tin streamworks along the valley of the River Erme, Cornwood and Harford (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley

Date Last Edited:Nov 23 2020 4:00PM