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HER Number:MDV66635
Name:Trial Pits at Wheal Katherine Tin Mine


Several areas of trial pits around Wheal Katherine tin mine which was also known as Crane Lake


Grid Reference:SX 608 685
Map Sheet:SX66NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66NW/213/22
  • Old SAM Ref: 34468
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TRIAL PIT (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 157318 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visited on 9th May 2002. Prospecting trench 20 metres west of Plym Ford, forming part of Wheal Katherine tin mine. Pit 4 metres wide and 1.6 metres deep with some material upcast on the south side but most removed by water. At the southern end is a linear mound which measures 6 metres wide by 1.1 metres high. The prospecting trench diverts around both sides of this mound. Grass, heather and rushes.).

Newman , P., 1999, Eylesbarrow (Ailsborough) Tin Mine, 5 Figure 4 (Report - Survey). SDV352201.

Many trial pits identified on the earthwork plan at Wheal Katherine. Early tin working in this area was documented from the 16th century but dated from at least the 12th century if not in the Prehistoric era.

Newman, P., 1999, Eylesbarrow (Ailsborough) Tin Mine, Figure 4 (Article in Serial). SDV231130.

English Heritage, 2005, Industrial Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV346396.

Areas of trial pits shown on survey.

English Heritage, 2014, National Heritage List for England, 1021056 (National Heritage List for England). SDV355683.

Monument includes structures and earthworks associated with Wheal Katherine Tin Mine situated on the lower south facing slopes of Eylesbarrow overlooking the River Plym. Tin extraction within the area later to become known as Wheal Katherine probably dates back to at least the 12th century, although it is not until the 16th century that specific documentation is known. Some of the earthworks visible within the monument will certainly be the result of mining activity before the better documented phases of the 19th century. Wheal Katherine was worked both independently and at times as part of its bigger neighbour, Eylesbarrow Tin Mine. In 1817, three years after work commenced at Eylesbarrow, Wheal Katherine opened, but by the 1830s it formed part of Dartmoor Consolidated Mines, whose major concerns were at Eylesbarrow. Over the following years the mine was managed by various companies before closing finally in 1856.
A number of different types of earthworks and structures relating to tin extraction and processing survive within the monument. Amongst the earliest are two areas of streamworking, both of which have been truncated by later mining activity. The streamworks were formed during the extraction of tin deposits using water to separate the heavy tin from the lighter silts, sands and gravels. Once the streamworks were abandoned, the tinners turned their attentions to the lode tin within the area. The first stage was extensive prospecting using both pits and trenches. Large numbers of these features survive within the vicinity of the tin work. The pits were excavated solely by hand but the trenches were formed by using both shovels and running water. The water was brought to the area in leats and stored in reservoirs. Once the lodes had been identified they were extracted using different mining techniques. Foremost among these was the use of opencast quarries known as openworks to extract the lode tin and these survive as deep, steep sided gullys trending approximately east to west. The second form of evidence relating to mining survives as series of deep pits and these are known as areas of lode back tin working. This form of exploitation consists of deep pits being cut onto the back of the lode with the tin ore encountered being raised to the surface. When extraction became difficult the pit was abandoned and a new one opened elsewhere on the lode. The resulting archaeological remains include linear series of deep pits each associated with a spoil dump. The final form of mining is represented by five particularly large pits called shafts and an adit. These would have been dug to reach the tin ore below the depth accessible by openworks and lode back pits. These features probably belong to the 19th century extraction phase.

National Monument Record, 2014, Pastscape, 1063879 + 1063881 (Website). SDV355682.

Crane Lake – NMR 1063879
Earthwork remains of a tin mine and associated tinworks including tin processing which was documented in 1792. The mine subsequently changed its name to Wheal Katherine and was part of Eylesbarrow Mine. An archaeological field survey in 1994 recorded a range of features which included openworks, reservoirs, leats, pits and shafts covering an area of 20 hectares. Two openworks were surveyed, these measured up to 25 metres in width and 8 metres in depth. Both were well preserved with sharply cut sides and were supplied by water from the reservoirs by a series of leats and channels. Several hundred pits were also recorded. These ranged in diameter from 3 metres to 15 metres and were up to 1.5 metres deep.
Wheal Katherine - NMR 1063881
Remains of a tin processing works at Wheal Katherine which formed part of Eylesbarrow tin mine set and was operational until 1856. An archaeological field survey in 1994 located structures including a stamping mill, dressing floors and buddles.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV231130Article in Serial: Newman, P.. 1999. Eylesbarrow (Ailsborough) Tin Mine. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 57. Paperback Volume. Figure 4.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 157318.
SDV346396Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Industrial Survey Information. English Heritage. Digital. [Mapped features: #98243 ; #98244 ; #98245 ; #98246 ; #98247 ; #98248 ; #98249 ; #98250 ; #98251 ; #98252 ; #98253 ]
SDV352201Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 1999. Eylesbarrow (Ailsborough) Tin Mine. English Heritage Survey Report. A4 Spiral Bound. 5 Figure 4.
SDV355682Website: National Monument Record. 2014. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 1063879 + 1063881.
SDV355683National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2014. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Website. 1021056.

Associated Monuments

MDV61849Parent of: Wheal Katherine Tin Mine (Monument)
MDV66533Related to: Openwork Gully at Wheal Katherine Tin Mine (Monument)
MDV64740Related to: Streamworks at Wheal Katherine Tin Mine (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6239 - Eylesbarrow (Ailsborough) Tin Mine

Date Last Edited:Sep 23 2016 3:25PM