Industrial archaeology of Dartmoor

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The industrial archaeology of Dartmoor covers a number of the industries which have, over the ages, taken place on Dartmoor, and the remaining evidence surrounding them. Currently only three industries are economically significant, yet all three will inevitably leave their own traces on the moor: china clay mining, farming and tourism.

A good general guide to the commercial activities on Dartmoor at the end of the 19th century is William Crossing's The Dartmoor Worker.



In former times, lead, silver, tin and copper were mined extensively on Dartmoor. The most obvious evidence of mining to the casual visitor to Dartmoor are the remains of the old engine-house at Wheal Betsy which is alongside the A386 road between Tavistock and Okehampton. The word Wheal has a particular meaning in Devon and Cornwall being either a tin or a copper mine, however in the case of Wheal Betsy it was principally lead and silver which were mined.

Once widely practised by many miners across the moor, by the early 1900s only a few tinners remained, and mining had almost completely ceased twenty years later. Some of the more significant mines were Eylesbarrow, Knock Mine, Vitifer Mine and Hexworthy Mine. The last active mine in the Dartmoor area was Great Rock Mine, which shut down in 1969.[1]


Dartmoor granite has been used in many Devon and Cornish buildings. The prison at Princetown was built from granite taken from Walkhampton Common. When the horse tramroad from Plymouth to Princetown was completed in 1823, large quantities of granite were more easily transported.

There were three major granite quarries on the moor: Haytor, Foggintor and Merrivale. The granite quarries around Haytor were the source of the stone used in several famous structures, including the New London Bridge, completed in 1831. This granite was transported from the moor via the Haytor Granite Tramway, stretches of which are still visible.

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