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HER Number:MDV8195
Name:Owlacombe Beamwork


Medieval and later tin workings situated to the north of Owlacombe Farm comprising an openwork up to 40 metres wide and 10 metres deep. Later activity within the site took place intermittently between 1688 and 1909. The Beam Mine (also known as Wheal Beam) to the north-west of the road at Owlacombe was worked later than the 18th century open cut; records from the 1840s indicate production. It was taken over in 1857 with all the other local setts, becoming part of Owlacombe Mines (Ashburton United).


Grid Reference:SX 766 733
Map Sheet:SX77SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishAshburton
Ecclesiastical ParishASHBURTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX77SE6
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 445209
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SE/15/5
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SE/214

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BEAMWORK (Constructed, Early Medieval to Edwardian - 1066 AD? (Between) to 1909 AD (Between))
  • TIN MINE (Constructed, Early Medieval to Edwardian - 1066 AD? (Between) to 1909 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Late 19th century historic map shows 'Owlacombe Beams', disused at this time, some structures and mine shafts also indicated.

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

(Owlacombe Beams: published at SX 7655 7338 on O.S. 6" 1906).

Amery, J. S., 1924, (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants, 50 (Article in Serial). SDV315287.

In a petition dated 1688 Richard Strode of Newham claimed the ownership of a tin works called Owlacombe Beam within Ashburton Stannery.
The Owlacombe set was worked in recent times as lode workings and as such had produced 348 tons of black tin up to 1909.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1824, 3163-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352344.

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

B8 Beam; see Owlacombe. Plan r 224 a. M. R. O. Tin.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX77SE6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV315283.

(20/05/1960) A considerable area, centred at SX 7685 7335, in which are overgrown tips, shafts and ruined buildings asociated with the tin working. The buildings are modern and nothing of the 17th century industry is identifiable.

Burt, R. + Waite, P. + Burnley, R., 1984, Devon and Somerset Mines, 6 (Article in Serial). SDV347761.

Beam. SX767734. Produced 2.0 tons of tin in 1854, valued at £139.60.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1990, An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking, 25 (Report - Assessment). SDV343684.

Owlacombe Beam. One of most impressive openworks within enclosed land on south-east Dartmoor. Documented in the 17th century, and probably earlier. At risk from woodland management and dumping.

Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I., 1995, Monuments Protection Programme: The Tin Industry Step 3 Site Assessments, Devon 52 (Report - non-specific). SDV357946.

A Medieval and later beamwork up to 40 metres wide and 10 metres deep. The site was probably in use until the 17th century.

Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 2005, Mines of Devon, 121-122 (Monograph). SDV282410.

A number of setts totally nearly a mile square have been developed under the name of Owlacombe Mines or, later, Ashburton United. The oldest workings, traditionally dating from the 17th century, lie in a plantation bordering the north-west side of the road from Owlacombe Cross to Sigford Bridge. Here before the introduction of blasting and by manual labour alone a mass on tin-bearing ground was excavated in an open-cutting 1,200 feet long, 30 to 40 feet deep and from 50 to 100 feet wide, the formation being drained by an adit brought up beneath it from the neighbouring stream. Seen today as a tree-lined gorge the site still provides a surprising example of early mining in Devon, despite a recent attempt, fortunately stopped, to fill it in completely.
Near the bottom of the stockwork the ore body contracted in width, exposing two parallel well-defined lodes which at a later period were developed by shaft mining. During the 1840s, the Beam Mine (known as Wheal Beam at that time) was worked by four partners said to have raised £6000 worth of tin stuff from the relatively shallow depth of 31 fathoms below adit. The machinery consisted of a 40 by 40 foot wheel which in addition to drawing the water drove 12 heads of stamps, the latter connected to the wheel by a sweep-rod, ‘plumocks’ and 90 fathoms of 2.5 inch iron rods.

GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Gorge within plantation can be traced roughly from the aerial photograph. Map object partly based on this source.

Ordnance Survey, 2018, MasterMap 2018 (Cartographic). SDV360652.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV282410Monograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 2005. Mines of Devon. Mines of Devon. Paperback Volume. 121-122.
SDV315283Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX77SE6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV315287Article in Serial: Amery, J. S.. 1924. (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 56. Unknown. 50.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV343684Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1990. An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking. Digital. 25.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
SDV347761Article in Serial: Burt, R. + Waite, P. + Burnley, R.. 1984. Devon and Somerset Mines. The Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom. Paperback Volume. 6.
SDV352344Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1824. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3163-4.
SDV357946Report - non-specific: Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I.. 1995. Monuments Protection Programme: The Tin Industry Step 3 Site Assessments. Monument Protection Programme. Foolscap. Devon 52.
SDV360652Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap 2018. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #108185 ]
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

MDV8190Related to: Owlacombe Mine, Ashburton (Monument)
MDV51807Related to: Small quarry in woods at Owlacombe, Ashburton (Monument)
MDV120767Related to: West Beam Mine, Owlacombe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 27 2022 4:51PM