HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV6576
Name:Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat

Summary

The leat was probably first constructed in 1793 and subsequently extended on two occasions to bring water from the East Dart and North Teign to the Birch Tor and Vitifer mines. It follows the contours and thus takes a contorted route of about 7 kilometres.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 633 820
Map Sheet:SX68SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 763393
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/24
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (Constructed, XIX - 1830 AD to 1830 AD)

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2149, 4313 (Aerial Photograph). SDV282746.


Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 205 (Monograph). SDV149229.

The Vitifer Mine Leat was constructed in 1830 to bring in water from the East Dart. It is approximately 7 miles in length. Either at the same time or a little later the flow was supplemented by water led in from the North Teign. Like some of the other leats it is crossed at a number of places by simple stone clapper footbridges. The point of intake of the East Dart is at SX625812, on the north bank of the river near Sandy Hole. Contouring the hillsides the leat takes a tortuous north-easterly course, continuing south of Sittaford Tor before being joined by its tributary from the North Teign. Presently it swings to the south and passes under the Two Bridges-Moretonhampstead road (B3212) less than a mile south-west of the Warren House Inn. It then flows into the Vitifer area, after which the water eventually finds its way to the West Webburn and back to the Dart at a lower point.


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

Vitifer Mine Leat. Constructed in around 1830 to lead water from the East Dart and North Teign to the Vitifer Mine. Runs 11.3 kilometres, SX65008281to SX68078110. Visible and recorded, but not drawn east of SX67338058 because it would get confused with streamworks and other features in this area; besides, it is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:10560 map anyway.


Greeves, T. A. P., 1990, An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking (Report - Assessment). SDV343684.


Fletcher, M. J., 1990, Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In (Report - Survey). SDV276254.

Within Great Stannon Newtake, this is now a dry and silted channel. It was augmented by the Whitehorse Leat (PRN 59418) which joins it at SX64028272. It follows a sinuous course across the newtake from the boundary wall (SX63478157) along the steep valley slope and across a narrow watershed (SX 64078272) into Fernworthy Forest (SX 64858281). It re-enters the newtake at SX65698193, crosses a second narrow watershed (SX 65578152) to the newtake wall (SX65748112). It is, on average, 1.7 meters wide and 0.6 meters deep with a strong stony bank on its downhill side. It is particularly impressive on the steep slopes (SX63648200) where, in places, it is 2.4 meters and 0.8 meters deep.
A second, less substantial leat follows a more or less parallel course but a few metres higher up the slope. It eventually joins the main leat at SX65558169 in the south-east corner of the newtake. Perhaps the lower leat was dug to replace the upper leat which may have become silted and damaged.


Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 144243 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visit 1997. At SX64398277 a length of the leat was seen cutting through the reave 610 metres south-east of the Grey Wethers stone circles.


Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 159-161, Map 35 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Leats depicted on Butler's map.


Newman, P., 1992, Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation (Report - Survey). SDV352719.

Site visit 10th December 1992. The Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat (SX62518118 - SX68078109) follows a sinuous course across the newtake from the boundary wall (SX63178157) along the steep valley slope and across a narrow water shed (SX64078272) into Fernworthy Forest (SX64858281). It re-enters the newtake at SX65699193, crosses a second narrow watershed at SX65578152 to the newtake wall at SX65748112. It continues to a point where it meets the Walla Brook 20 metres south of the B3212 at SX67588100. The leat follows a direct route across the lower slopes of Merripit Hill between the Stannon Wall at Statts Brook at SX66698081. At this point, it adopts the course of the brook for 120 metres before turning to the east at SX66758071. It then follows the contour of the lower slopes of Water Hill. Here the leat channel runs through an area of intensive tin-working and earth and stone embankments have been constructed to convey the leat across four separate openworks at SX67158048, SX67358061, SX67388076, and SX67408070.
It is well preserved with cleanly cut vertical sides and a depth of up to 2.0 metres in places The average width is 2.0 metres and a bank of upcast material on the downslope side measures 3.5 metres wide by 1.0 metres high. The leat's two sources were the East Dart River and the South Teign, via the Whitehorse Leat. It served the waterwheels at the Birch Tor and Vitifer, and Golden Dagger Mines. A branch of the leat which diverges at SX66268109, supplied water to Wheal Caroline Mine.


Riley, H., 1995, Birch Tor and Vitifer Leat (Report - Assessment). SDV347553.

The upper portion of the Birch Tor and Vitifer mine leat was surveyed as part of the Dartmoor Royal Forest Project in December 1994. The now dry silted channel runs above the left bank of the East Dart River from the intake at SX62538118 to the edge of the Great Stannon Newtake at SX63448154, where it is as described by Fletcher (1990).


English Heritage, 2005, Leats Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV347529.

Course of the leat depicted on survey information. Map object based on this Source.


Dartmoor Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2010, Dartmoor Trust Leats Project 2009-2010 (Report - Survey). SDV347530.

Dry. (Note - several water channels within the mine site, some of which are clearly man-made). Other details: T:\Dartmoor Leats Survey / Q:\MAPDATA\HISTORIC\LeatsProject.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Map object based on this Source.


Newman, P., 2013, Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey (Un-published). SDV351708.


Newman , P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon, 60, Figs 2, 54 (Report - Survey). SDV351784.

The Birch Tor and Vitifer leat diverted water from the East Dart and North Teign on moorland west of Fernworthy to the Birch Tor and Vitifer mines over 4 kilometres to the south-east. Probably originally dug in 1793 it was extended on two occasions. Two sections of the leat run in parallel across the south-west sector of Fernworthy plantation. The lower leat is the larger here with an internal width of up to 2.0 metres and is visible for most of its course through the forest. The higher leat currently runs across open ground but is course is less visible where it has been disturbed by forestry tracks. Both leats comprise a flat-bottomed channel with very little silting with a mound of upcast material along the downslope side.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 205.
SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 159-161, Map 35.
SDV276254Report - Survey: Fletcher, M. J.. 1990. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In. Unknown.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 144243.
SDV282746Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2149. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4313.
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.
SDV343684Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1990. An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking. Digital.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV347529Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Leats Survey Information. English Heritage. Digital.
SDV347530Report - Survey: Dartmoor Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority. 2010. Dartmoor Trust Leats Project 2009-2010. Dartmoor Trust. Digital.
SDV347553Report - Assessment: Riley, H.. 1995. Birch Tor and Vitifer Leat. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In. Unknown.
SDV351708Un-published: Newman, P.. 2013. Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey. Digital.
SDV351784Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Digital + A4. 60, Figs 2, 54.
SDV352719Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 1992. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV104637Parent of: Parallel section of the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat in Fernworthy Forest (Monument)
MDV6638Related to: Birch Tor and Vitifer Tin Mine, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV6777Related to: Hut circle settlement 730 metres south-east of Sittaford Tor (Monument)
MDV27277Related to: Leat on Winney's Down (Monument)
MDV54593Related to: Opencast lode tinworking on Water Hill (Monument)
MDV6771Related to: Oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake (Monument)
MDV117785Related to: Pillow Mound at Headland Warren, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV27293Related to: Possible leat or bank on White Ridge (Monument)
MDV27294Related to: Reave 290 metres south-east of the Grey Wethers stone circles (Monument)
MDV27295Related to: The Whitehorse Leat, Sittaford (Monument)
MDV110058Related to: Weir on East Dart River to North of Broad Down (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6203 - Archaeological Survey of Fernworthy Forest
  • EDV7139 - Headland Warren and the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mines Survey (Ref: A1/20/2001, A1/34/2002)
  • EDV7389 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1996
  • EDV7410 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1992

Date Last Edited:Sep 17 2019 12:01PM