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Tinworks and other archaeological remains in the Meavy valley at Stanlake, Black Tor, Hart Tor and Cramber Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5278 / 50°31'39"N

Longitude: -4.0028 / 4°0'9"W

OS Eastings: 258141.000881

OS Northings: 71691.61192

OS Grid: SX581716

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.X3MM

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HN.QF2

Entry Name: Tinworks and other archaeological remains in the Meavy valley at Stanlake, Black Tor, Hart Tor and Cramber Tor

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1953

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020129

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24106

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

The monument includes a series of alluvial tin streamworks, an eluvial
streamwork, shafts, openworks, lode back tinworks, prospecting pits and
trenches, a reservoir, tin bound stone, a wheelpit, two stamping mills,
several leats, adits, tinners' buildings and caches. Amongst other
archaeological remains are two stone alignments, at least four cairns, a stone
hut circle settlement, an enclosure and a length of reave, all of prehistoric
date. Further remains of historic date include a hollow way and World War II
mortar emplacement.
These features and structures lie within the upper part of the Meavy Valley
within the Burrator Reservoir catchment area.
The alluvial streamworks are adjacent to the River Meavy and Hart Tor Brook
and survive as a series of well-preserved earthworks which suggest multi-phase
exploitation of the tin deposits. In broad terms the large dumps lying
parallel with the rivers are considered to be medieval, whilst the narrow
dumps lying at an angle are thought to represent post-medieval activity. The
layout of the dumps clearly illustrates the systematic manner in which the tin
deposits were exploited.
An area of eluvial streamworking earthworks at NGR SX57807202 represents
exploitation of tin detached from the nearby lodes which were later exploited
using opencast quarries known as openworks. At least eight discrete openworks
survive at this location and each includes a deep, steep sided gully. Another
openwork cuts into the lower slopes of Hart Tor at NGR SX57807169 and another
two slice into the hillside at the upper end of the Hart Tor Brook.
The monument contains at least 14 discrete areas of lode back tinworking.
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 a linear
series of deep pits, each associated with a spoil dump.
The final form of evidence relating to tin mining includes a small number
of shafts and two adits. Shafts are vertical or near vertical tunnels leading
from the surface to provide access to underground workings. At the surface
they include a substantial pit associated with a large spoil dump. Many shafts
were capped when abandoned and others may therefore survive hidden below their
cap. Associated with the shaft on the lower slopes of Black Tor are two
adits. An adit is a level tunnel driven into the hillside to facilitate
access, drainage and haulage of ore to the surface. The adits at NGR
SX57377151 survive as narrow gulleys surrounded on three sides by a low bank.
Spoil from the lower adit rests on top of earlier alluvial tin streamwork
earthworks.
Crucial to almost every activity within the tinworks was a supply of
water. Water was carried to where it was needed in artificial channels called
leats and sometimes stored in reservoirs. At least 17 separate leats survive
within the monument carrying water to a variety of different processes. Most
served prospecting trenches, others carried water to stamping mills, some
supplied streamworks and one supplied water to a farm. The use of water to
prospect for tin is known from contemporary documentary sources, but other
techniques were employed. Foremost amongst these was the digging of shallow
pits to locate and then examine the character of any lode encountered. Several
hundred of these pits exist within the monument and survive as small
rectangular or oval hollows each with an associated crescent shaped bank,
normally lying downslope of the pit.
Within or adjacent to the tinworks are a number of structures built
by the tinners to provide shelter or storage for tools and tin. Three of
these structures are large enough to have sheltered workers, whilst the two
smallest ones consist of small chambers built within earlier spoil dumps.
These structures are known as caches and would have been used to hide tools
and tin oxide.
The tin ore from the openworks, lode back pits, shafts and adits needed to
be crushed and dressed to release the cassiterite (tin oxide), also known as
black tin. Within the monument there are two stamping mills where much of the
ore mined from the tinworks would have been crushed and dressed. Both mills
are situated below Black Tor Falls. The mill on the eastern bank is built into
earlier streamwork earthworks and survives as a two roomed structure with the
walls standing up to 2.2m high with the door lintel remaining in its original
position. In each room, a mortar stone on which the ore was crushed by
mechanically driven stamps is visible. The wheelpit for the wheel that
powered the stamps is clearly visible on the northern side of the mill.
The mill on the western bank survives as a single roomed structure associated
with at least four mortar stones and two axle stones on which the wheel axle
rotated. Adjacent to this mill are a series of shallow linear depressions
which probably represent the site of a dressing floor where the crushed ore
was hydraulically separated to release the black tin.
Archaeological remains of prehistoric date also survive within the monument.
Foremost amongst these is a ritual complex including at least two stone
alignments and four cairns. The northern alignment is orientated from ENE to
WSW and includes a 122m long, double row of at least 93 upright stones, with
an average height of 0.32m. The spacing of the stones is irregular and the
distance between the rows varies between 1.5m and 2m. A cairn with an
encircling kerb stands at the ENE end of the double stone alignment. The mound
measures 6.8m in diameter and 0.4m high and the kerb includes 15 orthostats
forming a ring with a diameter of 9m. A slight hollow in the centre of the
mound suggests robbing or partial early excavation. The single stone alignment
lies to the south of the double row and is orientated approximately NNE to SSW
and includes a 56.4m long row of at least 16 upright stones with an average
height of 0.29m. The larger stones within this row lie towards the eastern
end, which is denoted by a cairn. This cairn measures 8m in diameter and
stands up to 0.8m high. A slight hollow in the centre of the mound suggests
that this mound has also been investigated. The third cairn lies 20m south of
the double stone alignment and includes an 8.8m diameter and 0.7m high flat
topped mound. A kerb of stones is visible around the eastern edge of the mound
and survives elsewhere around the circumference as a buried feature. A hollow
in the centre of this cairn suggests previous antiquarian interest in this
mound. The fourth cairn lies on the western side of the River Meavy and
survives as a 4m diameter mound standing up to 0.8m high. Both stone
alignments have seen limited damage as a result of medieval and post-medieval
tinworking. A 3m wide and 1.6m deep prospecting trench cuts the double
alignment and, further downslope, is a leat carrying water to tin stamping
mills at Keaglesborough. A streamwork runs past the lower end of the double
stone alignment, and may have truncated it.
A short distance south of the stone alignments is a substantial rubble bank
leading northward from the Hart Tor Brook. This bank forms part of a contour
reave that originally also extended for nearly 2km southward from this
monument. At NGR SX57387153 is a small enclosure defined by an orthostatic
wall whose eastern side has been removed by alluvial tin streamworking.
On the south side of the monument there is an enclosed stone hut circle
settlement which is situated on a north facing slope on the edge of the Hart
Tor Brook. The interior is sub-circular and measures 98m east to west by 70m
north to south with a 4m wide entrance on its west side. Within the enclosure
there are 11 stone hut circles, a tinner's building and traces of lynchets and
plots defined by low rubble walls. Attached to the outer face of the enclosure
on the south east side is a small field-plot.
All the stone hut circles were examined by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee
in 1896. This work recovered charcoal, pot boilers, rubbers, flint scrapers
and pottery.
Amongst structures of historic date not associated with tin extraction are
a mortar emplacement, field boundaries associated with Stanlake Farm and a
hollow way leading to a ford across the River Meavy.
The modern structures associated with the collection of water for the pipeline
carrying water to the Devonport Leat, the pipeline itself and the ground
directly above it, the associated service structures and the aqueduct carrying
the Devonport Leat across the River Meavy are all excluded from the
scheduling; the ground beneath all these features is, however, included.
The concrete take off at the confluence of the River Meavy and Hart Tor Brook
is totally excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and,
because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most
complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The
great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provide direct evidence
for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards.
The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites,
major land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as
later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes
in the pattern of land use through time.
On Dartmoor, tin streamworks represent intermittent tin working activity
dating from the medieval period to the 20th century. During this time
previously abandoned works were often brought back into production, while some
streamworks are still not exhausted, raising the possibility that they may
become viable once again.
Streamworks exploited tin deposits that had been detached from the parent lode
and redeposited by streams and rivers within either alluvial deposits in
valley bottoms or in eluvial deposits in shallow, steeper tributaries on
hillsides. The technique involved large scale extraction (which has left major
earthworks visible in the landscape) and the use of water to separate tin from
the lighter clays and silts which contained it. The water derived either from
canalised streams or reservoirs fed by specially constructed leats which can
be seen running for several miles along the contours of many hillsides. The
streamworks themselves survive as a series of spoil dumps, channels and
disused work areas which indicate their character and development.
Streamworking was particularly prevalent on Dartmoor, being by far the most
numerous and extensive type of tinwork on the moor. Remains are to be found in
most valley bottoms and on many hillsides, where they make a dominant
contribution to landscape character as well as providing unusually detailed
evidence for medieval industry. Streamworks on Dartmoor will be considered for
scheduling where they are well preserved and representative of the industry in
this area, or where there is a demonstrable relationship with medieval and
later settlement and its associated remains.

The tinworks and other archaeological remains in the Meavy Valley at Stanlake,
Black Tor, Hart Tor and Cramber Tor survive well and together represent an
important insight into the character of upland exploitation. In particular,
the wide variety of tin prospecting, extraction and processing sites represent
a very special collection of sites connected with the early tin industry.
The stone rows are a rare survival nationally and, together with the cairns,
provide an illustration of the nature and intensity of ritual and burial
activity on the Moor.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Gerrard, G A M, The Early Cornish Tin Industry, (1986), 165-166
Baring-Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Third Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 28, (1896), 191-192
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 9
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 18
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 19
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 26
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 9
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 17
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 13-14
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 10' in Hart Tor Tinworks, , Vol. 10, (1998), 13-15
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 9' in Hart Tor Stone Rows and Cairns, , Vol. 9, (1999), 9
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 9' in Hart Tor Stone Rows and Cairns, , Vol. 9, (1999), 11
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 9' in Hart Tor Stone Rows and Cairns, , Vol. 9, (1999), 13
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 6' in Stanlake Alluvial Streamwork, , Vol. 6, (1998), 21
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 6' in Stanlake Alluvial Streamwork, , Vol. 6, (1998), 7
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 6' in Stanlake Alluvial Streamwork, , Vol. 6, (1998), 8-10
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 6' in Stanlake Alluvial Streamwork, , Vol. 6, (1998), 10
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 23
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 23
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 29
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 9
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 14
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 18
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 19
Gerrard, S, 'Meavy Valley Archaeology - Site Report No. 3' in Black Tor Falls Tin Mills, , Vol. 5, (1997), 7
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE19,
Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)
Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
Lethbridge, D, (1997)
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE3619,

Source: Historic England

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