Mining and antiquities on Dartmoor

Effectively this is a follow on from my previous post from the same day’s walk here.  The photos in the previous one were orientated around the scenery on the day and this one covers some of the antiquities and remains in the Headland Warren area generally.  Walking south from Birch tor this was the view to the east towards Hameldon and Grimspound with the fog still rolling around.

Crossing the head of Chaw gully which is an old open tin mine on the edge of Headland Warren I arrived at the stone rows on Challacombe Down.  There are multiple rows of stone here and both Hemmery in High Dartmoor and Worth in Dartmoor describe it as a triple stone row.  To me it did lookss like there were more rows than this but I guess I am wrong.

From this image taken a little further up the rows it certainly looks like there are at least four rows of stones here.  The rows run for around 150 metres.  Birch Tor can be seen on the far right.

This is the “blocking stone” which appears to terminate the rows at the head of one row.  It is quite a large stone compared to most of the others.  While the stone is the subject of the photo to the right of it the ancient village of Grimspound can be clearly seen as a circle on the hillside.  The tor to the left of the stone is Hookney Tor and below that on the left are some open tinners working disused for many years now.

This shows a small part of the open tin workings that are called Chaw Gully.  The workings here (and there are many in the area) are some of the deepest open cast workings on the moors.  The two named mines which used shafts  lower down in the valley were worked loosely between 1750 and 1930 so this area was being mined prior to that.  It is remarkable what was achieved with tools that would seem very primitive by our standards today.

This is the remains of a building associated with the Golden Dagger mine which lies a little south of the Chaw Gully open works.  There is little doubt that tin has been extracted from the area for many years but the mine was first mentioned around 1851 (according to Tom Greeves).  In 1892 41 people were employed there and the mine was at its peak then.

The photo above is taken from just above Golden Dagger mine looking back up towards the open workings of Chaw Gully whose lines can be seen slightly right of centre.  The tor to the left is Birch Tor.

I walked back up the valley following the stream until I got to some of the remains of Vitifer mine.  Vitifer (and Birch Tor mine ) was definitively mentioned in 1750 and by 1796 40 men were employed there (Tom Greeves) .  The mine appears to have been one of the more prosperous one on the moors and there are quite extensive remains visible including some old mine shafts.  It seems likely that the work here ceased around 1925.

The stream in the valley here was used as motive power for both the mines mentioned as well as previous open cast working.  Now on what was still a cold frosty day it was rather more decorative – a pleasant end to a good walk.

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