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HER Number:MDV8073
Name:Atlas Tin Mine, Ilsington


Remains of the Atlas or Albion mine, which exploited both tin and iron are spread around the area of Smallacombe and Trumpeter to the west of Ilsington, near the head of the Liverton Brook within areas of enclosed pasture and unmanaged woodland. Evidence comprised shafts, a stamping mill, spoil dump and a burning house.


Grid Reference:SX 778 762
Map Sheet:SX77NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishIlsington
Ecclesiastical ParishILSINGTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX77NE104
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1441562
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77NE/27

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CALCINER (Constructed, Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • SHAFT (Constructed, Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • TIN MINE (Constructed, Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • WHEEL PIT (Constructed, Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV283197.

Des=photo in parish file. A photograph taken in 1974 by H. C. Ordish, shows the building which contained the calciners.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV283203.

Des=worksheet(griffiths, 1988). Atlas iron and tin mine. Three major sites where shafts are situated, these shafts are now sited in private gardens. The adit (see sx77ne/38) and processing area are other important sites shown in detailed plan and diagram on worksheet (griffiths).

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map, 108NE (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'Atlas Tin Mine (disused)', 'White's Shaft (disused)' and 'Old Shaft' marked on OS 6" (1906) map.

Reid, C., 1912, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. The Geology of Dartmoor. Sheet 338, explanation of sheet 338 (Article in Serial). SDV224987.

Diagram of workings.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 2443 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Ramsden, J. V., 1952, Notes on the Mines of Devonshire, 89 fig.1 (Article in Serial). SDV60737.

Mine A19 Atlas see Albion.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 200 (Monograph). SDV149229.

Various shafts, including some in the grounds of a private house near Lewthorne Cross were part of the Atlas Mine; worked in the mid-19th century for iron, and in years later for tin. One of these, White's Shaft, incorporated into a garden and grown over with shrubs, fenced around, is open, square, and said to be 64m deep. It was used by Albion Co., who worked the mine for about five years in the 1920's, when tin, copper, and arsenic were produced nearby in a copse are the concrete beds of the engine which worked the compressor at that time, plant and building having been removed. Also various dumps covered with trees.

Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 1981, Mines of Devon: North and East of Dartmoor, 138-139 (Monograph). SDV364319.

Atlas iron and tin mines created in 1858, extracting tin which was sent to Middlecot Wood for processing, and ironstone. In 1870's acquired with Smallacombe (SX77NE/37) by the Nature Iron Ore Company. Out of use by 1904. The shafts at this grid reference were Whites (SX 7786 7615), at least 39 fathoms (234', 71m) deep and Sarls, 35 fathoms (210', 64in) at SX 7791 7621.

Burt, R. + Waite, P. + Burnley, R., 1984, Devon and Somerset Mines (Article in Serial). SDV347761.

Output and owners given. Maximum employment was 37 people in 1889, falling to 8 in 1903.

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

Shaft visible and recorded.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1985, Steeperton Tor Tin Mine, Dartmoor, 118 (Article in Serial). SDV310154.

Richardson, P. H. G., 1992, The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913, 61-65 (Article in Serial). SDV323598.

The three mines of Albion, Atlas and Shallacombe were worked sometimes jointly and sometimes independently for iron, tin, ochre and umber, between the 1830s and 1920s.

Newman, P., 2006, Measured Survey Hidden Dartmoor: Peripheral Mines (Phase 1 Pilot) (Report - Survey). SDV351461.

(30/03/2006) The Atlas or Albion mine, which exploited both tin and iron are spread around the area of Smallacombe and Trumpeter to the west of Ilsington, near the head of the Liverton Brook within areas of enclosed pasture and unmanaged woodland. Smallacombe Cutting, an opencast iron mine sited to the NW of Trumpeter, was a separate enterprise. The mine was worked from at least 1858 and leased by a number of companies between then and 1926 (Brook Index for Ilsignton, West Country Studies Library). Surface evidence of underground activity consists of a series of shafts and two adits, all of which, including named shafts, are marked on OS maps of various dates. White's and Sarle's shafts are located in an area of private woodland to the north west of Loothorn or Lewthorn Cross. White's shaft (SX 7786 7615) the higher of the two has been capped but survives as a conical pit, surrounded by a moderate amount of spoil. Sarle's shaft (SX 7791 7620) remains open to a considerable depth. According to Hamilton Jenkin (1981, 138), Sarle's shaft was equipped with a 30-inch pumping engine, but remains of any associated structure has not yet been identified. A third small shaft is marked on the 25-inch OS map of 1905, approximately 25m south-east of Sarle's (SX 7788 7614) but no trace survives and it is likely to have been capped. Two adjacent, low rectangular concrete plinths (SX 7793 7623) with protruding threaded studs mark the position of machinery, possibly a winch, and are likely to date from the early 20th century episode of activity carried out by the Albion Syndicate. To the north of the shafts is an adit with a substantial spoil heap. This is sited in the corner of a field at SX 7790 7629 though is now covered by trees. In at a private garden is the site of a possible wheelpit at SX 7780 7642. This is marked as an elongated roofed structure on the 1886 OS 25-inch map but is possibly the site of a wheelpit marked on the abandoned mine plan in this vicinity. The structure has long since been adapted into a garden shed. A blocked level just north east of Trumpeter at SX 7793 7651, provided the main access to the mine. It was equipped with a tramway leading down to the dressing floors. The blocked portal, which has a stream of water issuing from within it, is currently covered by undergrowth. After leaving the adit portal, the course of the tramway may be traced as an earthwork for 130m east to the dressing floor on its north side at SX 7810 7650. The tramway continues for a further 75m beyond the dressing floor onto a large finger dump of spoil. The dressing floor and stamping mill is at the foot of the slope beneath the tramway and probably dates to the 1889 -1914 period of operation as it does not appear on the 1886 OS map. An intact stone wheelpit contained a waterwheel which powered a set of stamps on the west side. Rusting bolts protruding from the level area beside the wheelpit were the fixings for the stamps frame. No buddles survive but the area immediately north of the stamping mill has been disturbed by attempts to culvert the stream. The water supply for the wheel was a small spring in a field to the NW of the site. The water was collected in a reservoir, which is marked on OS maps at SX 7796 7669. Disturbed earthworks survive at this place amid dense scrub. The water was then conveyed along the top of a 115m-long embankment before continuing in a raised aqueduct, around an obtuse bend to avoid the burning house, finally to connect with the wheel. The burning house, where impurities were burned from the cassiterite before dressing, is the most important feature of the Atlas mines and is a unique example of its type in Devon, partly because it remains more or less intact. Detailed survey of this Listed building (SX 77 NE 3/274) is beyond the resources of the current project, but remains a priority. However, a reliable ground plan based on field measurements has been published by Richardson (1d). The building is not of a single phase and its present form certainly post-dates the 1886 map, which although showing the chimney, has the building oriented at 90º to the surviving structure, the layout of which does appear on the 1905 map. There are two burning chambers, one at each end of the surviving building, and a central section with a ground floor entrance. The burning chambers, consist of circular hopers built from stone, rather like a limekiln, encased in a square stone building with a space for a hearth beneath. Iron tie rods to strengthen the walls pass through the two chambers, connected to vertical flat iron braces on the exterior. Access to the top of the chambers was via an external stone staircase on the ends of the building. A chimney which served both chambers is a separate structure on the north side but connected by stone flues from the lower half of the chambers. The chimney remains intact to its full height though is affected by ivy growth as is much of the main structure.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 200.
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2443.
SDV224987Article in Serial: Reid, C.. 1912. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. The Geology of Dartmoor. Sheet 338. Memoirs of the Geological Survey. Unknown. explanation of sheet 338.
SDV283197Migrated Record:
SDV283203Migrated Record:
SDV310154Article in Serial: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1985. Steeperton Tor Tin Mine, Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 117. 118.
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.
SDV323598Article in Serial: Richardson, P. H. G.. 1992. The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913. British Mining. 44. A5 Paperback. 61-65.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). 108NE.
SDV347761Article in Serial: Burt, R. + Waite, P. + Burnley, R.. 1984. Devon and Somerset Mines. The Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom. Paperback Volume.
SDV351461Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2006. Measured Survey Hidden Dartmoor: Peripheral Mines (Phase 1 Pilot). English Heritage Survey Report. Unknown. [Mapped feature: #136382 ]
SDV364319Monograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 1981. Mines of Devon: North and East of Dartmoor. Mines of Devon.. Unknown. 138-139.
SDV60737Article in Serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1952. Notes on the Mines of Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. A5 Hardback. 89 fig.1.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8574 - Hidden Dartmoor: Peripheral Mine (Phase 1 Pilot)

Date Last Edited:Mar 28 2022 10:57AM