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HER Number:MDV8752
Name:Great Wheal Eleanor tin mine, North Bovey


Also recorded as Easdon / Eastdown and is thought likely to have Medieval origins (1450-1600). Late 19th century historic shows a range of buildings and aqueduct. Remains consist of some undulations and the remains of a wheel pit in very boggy ground on Easdon, south-west of North Bovey village. Tin was produced mainly during the 1870s.


Grid Reference:SX 733 833
Map Sheet:SX78SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishNorth Bovey
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTH BOVEY

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX78SW23
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 445649
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78SW/29

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • EXTRACTIVE PIT (XV to XIX - 1401 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • TIN WORKS (XV to XVII - 1401 AD to 1700 AD (Between))
  • ADIT (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • BEAM ENGINE HOUSE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • BLACKSMITHS WORKSHOP (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • BUDDLE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • BUILDING PLATFORM (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • CARPENTERS WORKSHOP (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • CHIMNEY (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • DAM (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • DRESSING FLOOR (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • MINE BUILDING (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • MINE SHAFT (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • OFFICE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • RESERVOIR (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • STABLE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • TIN MINE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • WATER WHEEL (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • WATERMILL (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • WHEEL HOUSE (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))
  • WHEEL PIT (XIX - 1874 AD to 1884 AD (Between))

Full description

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

The late 19th century historic map shows 'Great Wheal Eleanor (Tin disused)', with a range of buildings, as well as an aqueduct, centred around SX7346783407. Openwork depicted to the south-west.

Collins, J. H., 1912, Observations on the West of England Mining Region, 86 (Monograph). SDV323594.

Crossing, W., 1912 (1965), Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, 223 (Monograph). SDV320981.

H. M. Stationary Office, 1929, Abandoned Mines (Monograph). SDV215700.

Ramsden, J. V., 1952, Notes on the Mines of Devonshire, 94, fig 1 (Article in Serial). SDV60737.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX78SW23, 6/5/1953 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV304968.

This mine (tin) has been worked within living memory. It would appear to be not earlier than 18th century and is comparable with many others in this part of the country. It is now derelict and grass-covered.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 210 (Monograph). SDV149229.

Great Wheal Eleanor tin mine; some undulations and the remains of a wheel pit in very boggy ground on Easdon, south-west of North Bovey village, are all that remain. Tin was produced mainly during the 1870s.

National Monuments Record, 1979, SF1508, 812 (Aerial Photograph). SDV346563.

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

Linear openwork visible on aerial photograph with an arm extending to SX73208341.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1990, An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking, 26 (Report - Assessment). SDV343684.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1991, Tinworking at Heathercombe, Manaton (Un-published). SDV280255.

Lodeworkings at Easdon / Great Wheal Eleanor likely to have Medieval origins 1450-1600.

Smith, N. J. L., 1992, Woodland Archaeological Survey December 1991 North Bovey Woodlands (Report - Survey). SDV360446.

Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.

Remains of the openwork depicted on the modern mapping, as well as remains at SX7348 8341.

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 22/06/2021 (Website). SDV364039.

(16/12/2007) Great Wheal Eleanor tin mine. This mine is located on the north-east slope of Easdon Down, approximately 0.5km south-west of North Bovey. The 19th century remains are contained within an area of access land, now covered by woodland and scrub. Parts of the site are extremely boggy where water issuing from the abandoned adits has soaked into the hillside and some elements of the remains are inaccessible as a result. The date of abandonment in the early 1880s has meant that much of the site was still in existence when the Ordnance Survey 25-inch map, published 1886, was surveyed. The map shows Engine Shaft, the waterwheel, a large spoil heap, a reservoir, a dressing floor with three round buddles, the engine house, and various ancillary buildings.
Great Wheal Eleanor Tin Mining Company was formed in 1874 to work the site, probably attracted by the prospects of re-working the large openwork which already existed and may date from the 15th-17th century. This company was unusual in that it is the only one known to have worked the mine in the 19th century, without name changes or reorganizations. Following a complete lack of success the mine had closed by 1884.
The openwork consists of a linear V-shaped trench following an ENE-WSW alignment centred SX 7325 8323, approximately 350m long. The 1870s activity followed the same lode: shafts were sunk into the floor of the openwork and a deep adit level was driven westward from a point approximately 100m east of the openwork at SX 7346 8332. According to a contemporary section drawing which accompanies the abandoned mine plan of Great Wheal Eleanor (Devon Record Office AMP R220C), this adit extended for over 200m beneath the openwork. The adit portal is now blocked and a copious stream of water issues from it, however, there is a large spoil heap extending from it of 20-30m long and up to 3m high.
Engine shaft is marked by a conical pit surrounded by spoil contained within the openwork at SX 7329 8325. Additional shafts exist within the openwork both west and east of Engine Shaft.
Pumping was powered by a 40ft waterwheel housed in a wheelhouse at SX 7351 8341. The walls are robustly built in granite and 0.8m thick. The internal length is 12.8m (41.6ft) which would easily house the 40ft waterwheel recorded in the sale particulars of 1884 (Mining Journal, 04-MAY-1884). The wheelhouse widens in the centre, being 1.4m at the ends and approximately 2m at centre. The north side wall has survived slightly better than the south, though both have lost a proportion of stone. The south wall stands to height of 3.3m at its lower end, however the highest point of the structure is the north-east end, in which the exit lobby is housed, wall remaining to 4.5m in height. The lobby, at the base of the wall consists of neatly built arch with an opening of 1.3m wide and 1m high. Although some scrub is growing from the walls, the interior of the wheelpit is completely free of vegetation except for one tree, probably because it is permanently wet with a stream of peaty water running through it.
On the Abandoned Mine Plan (Devon Record Office AMP R220C) a flat rod system is depicted running from the north side of the waterwheel, south-west to an angle bob at the lower end of the openwork. It then ran straight up the openwork to the Engine Shaft. A dressed granite slab at approximately SX 7340 8327 marks the position of the angle bob. It seems unlikely that the waterwheel or pumping system saw a great deal of action as the section drawing accompanying the mine plan shows that a short level running off Engine Shaft was all that lay beneath the drainage adit and in need of pumping.
On the north side of the wheelpit a 1m-high revetment wall runs at right angles from it and meets with the end of the engine house. The revetment contained the stamps area behind it, the stamps being powered by the steam engine. The engine specification, as recorded on the sale particulars of 1884, was: ‘a 24-inch vertical beam stamping-engine with boiler and 16 heads of stamps' (Mining Journal, 04-MAY-1884).
The engine house which was built from large pieces of dressed granite, has completely collapsed but the stump, which probably represents the cylinder loading or platform on which the cylinder was mounted, has some set stones remaining in place and is measurable at 4.2m wide by 3.9m. The chimney was built into the south corner where the arc of its base may be seen protruding from one side. A 9m by 4m stone-edged platform extends from the front of the loading and is likely to have been the position of the flywheels which rotated the stamps axles.
An engine pond is depicted on the Abandoned Mine Plan, to the rear of the engine house but this has become completely silted and difficult to trace. However, its source of water was a portal just up slope to the west. Behind the portal is a short rock-cut adit which fills with water overflowing down the hill.
Water to turn the waterwheel was stored in a very large reservoir 70m south-west and uphill from the wheelpit. The reservoir has been formed by digging a hollow into the hillside and using the removed material to form a massive L-shape dam on the downslope side. The hollow is now heavily silted and the whole feature is covered by dense undergrowth. The surface of the water was approximately 30m long by 8m at the narrow end but much wider at the other, currently covered by undergrowth. The dam is approximately 2.5m high. Water was diverted via an outlet in the bank along a timber launder, directly on to the waterwheel. The source of water appears to have been only the spring issuing from the Deep Adit to the south.
A range of buildings are depicted on both the 1st edition Ordnance Survey maps and the Abandoned Mine Plan. The ruined office is located to the north of the reservoir and is the only one of the ancillary buildings to be constructed from stone. This was a rectangular structure set obliquely against the slope with internal dimensions of 7.6 by 1.8m. The current height of the walls is 0.8m and although the interior contains some tumbled stone, it seems likely that the upper portion of the walls may have been built from timber. The position of the entrance is currently obscured.
North of the office (SX 7243 8343) is a range of roughly rectangular earthwork platforms on which a range of fully timbered buildings once stood. The smithy and the drying house were on the upper platform of 16m long, and just below was the carpenter's shop and stables.
A number of additional features are known to have existed at the site including a range of three round buddles, just below and north-east of the stamping mill, with a building attached. This area is now totally overwhelmed by boggy ground but a pile of dressing waste which stands above the bog is all that remains (citing Newman, P., 16/12/2007, English Heritage Field Investigation).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 210.
SDV215700Monograph: H. M. Stationary Office. 1929. Abandoned Mines. Abandoned Mines. Unknown.
SDV280255Un-published: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. Tinworking at Heathercombe, Manaton. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV304968Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX78SW23. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. 6/5/1953.
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. 223.
SDV323594Monograph: Collins, J. H.. 1912. Observations on the West of England Mining Region. Observations on the West of England Mining Region. Unknown. 86.
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. 26.
SDV346563Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1979. SF1508. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 812.
SDV359962Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV360446Report - Survey: Smith, N. J. L.. 1992. Woodland Archaeological Survey December 1991 North Bovey Woodlands. Dartmoor National Park Authority. Digital.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 22/06/2021. [Mapped feature: #130788 ]
SDV60737Article in Serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1952. Notes on the Mines of Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. A5 Hardback. 94, fig 1.

Associated Monuments

MDV8789Parent of: Openwork on north Easdon; part of Great Wheal Eleanor Tin Mine (Monument)
MDV66236Parent of: STAMPING MILL in the Parish of North Bovey (Monument)
MDV26991Related to: Fossilised reave system between Bowden and Langdon, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV119983Related to: Mining remains in Easton Down Woods (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7411 - North Bovey Woodlands archaeological survey

Date Last Edited:Jun 22 2021 9:56AM