Historic Environment Record images

MSO6802 - Wheal Eliza Mine

ENPHER Number:MSO6802
Name:Wheal Eliza Mine
Type of Record:Monument
Grid Reference:SS 7840 3812

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record caveat document.


Wheal Eliza mine was active between 1845 and 1857, working copper, then iron. The complex is visible as a series of shafts, spoil heaps, ruined buildings, two leats, a wheel pit and a tail race.

Monument Types

  • COPPER MINE (AD 19th Century - 1845 AD to 1854 AD (Unclassified))

Designated Status: none recorded


SS 7845 3811
Wheal Eliza (disused) (NAT). [1]

Wheal Eliza Mine was active between 1845 and 1857. It was first worked for copper, then iron. Various trial adits were dug before two main shafts were excavated to a depth of some 300 feet. These were pumped out by machinery powered from a waterwheel on the south side of the river, which was present by 1846. This was powered by two leats running back up the valley. [2, 21]

A survey of the surviving remains was undertaken by Burrow and Jowson in 1979 for the Exmoor National Park (see plan). [3]

Wheal Eliza lies within the Barle valley at SS 7847 3812. It consists of several shafts, spoil heaps and a range of ruined buildings on the north side of the river. On the south side are the remains of two leats, a wheel pit and a tail race. The two parts of the complex are connected by a modern footbridge. (Suggested for large-scale survey later in West Exmoor Project). [4, 5]

The earthwork remains and ruined buildings of Wheal Eliza (originally called Wheal Maria) can be seen clearly on aerial photographs. On the north side of the River Barle, platforms and rectangular enclosures are visible, along with the footings of several buildings, presumably the cottages built here for the miners, or the blacksmiths and carpenters shops and Account house, which were completed in 1846.
On the southern slopes, the shaft itself can be distinguished, but the most prominent remains are those of the leats and tail race, both of which were constructed in 1847 as part of a water powered pumping system.
Worked ceased at Wheal Eliza in 1854, but started again briefly in 1856. By 1858 the mine had been abandoned and the machinery sold. [6-9]

An iron mine was situated either side of River Barle, several elements of the mine remain. [10]

The mine was originally called Wheal Maria, which was then changed to Wheal Eliza. It was a copper mine from 1845-54 and then iron mine until 1857 although first activity may be may be from 1552. The workings were encouraged by the Knight family, but were not successful due to insufficient ore. A road was built along the river Barle to Simonsbath. [11-14]

The site is under private ownership. [15]

The main entrance to Wheal Eliza mine led to an adit and a shaft 100 metres deep, the entrance was stone lined. Nine miners were employed in the mine during 1851, with five of these living in the two bedroom cottage alongside (MSO12505).
In 1858 the body of Anna Maria Burgess was discovered in the mine, her grave can be seen at St Luke's parish church in Simonsbath (MSO10240). [21]

<1> Ordnance Survey, 1980, 1:10000 Map, 1980 (Map). SEM7222.

<2> Buchanan, C.A.+ Buchanan, R.A., 1980, The Batsford Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Central Southern England (Monograph). SMO5325.

<3> Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B., 1980, Somerset Archaeology 1979, 134-36 (with plan) (Article in serial). SSO858.

<4> Wilson-North, R., Field Investigators Comments, RCHME Field Investigation, 12 October 1994 (Unpublished document). SMO7329.

<5> Instone, E., 1995, English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Industrial Monuments Assessment, Step 3 Reports: The Iron Mining Industry (Report). SEM7691.

<6> Royal Air Force, 1946 -1948, Vertical Aerial Photography, RAF CPE/UK/1980 3455-56 (11 April 1947) (Aerial photograph). SEM6707.

<7> Various, Various, Vertical Aerial Photograph, RAF 543/2821 (F62) 169-70 (27 April 1964) (Aerial photograph). SMO4068.

<8> Burton, R.A., 1989, The Heritage of Exmoor, 132-35 (Monograph). SEM7230.

<9> 2007-2009, Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE (Archive). SMO7573.

<10> Burrow, I, Site visit notes (Unpublished document). SSO830.

<11> Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J., 1970, The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest, P. 172-78 (Monograph). SSO1774.

<12> Ordnance Survey, 1978, 25" SS7838 (Map). SSO1544.

<13> Dines, H.G, 1956, The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England (Monograph). SSO1040.

<14> Western Archaeological Trust, 1980s, Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey, 7838 (Survey). SSO708.

<15> Somerset County Council, Various, Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records (Unpublished document). SSO1.

<16> History Somerset County Council (Unassigned). SSO232.

<17> Notes by Burrow on history etc (Unpublished document). SSO338.

<18> Historic Environment Service HBC 1:500 3.14.2 and 3 (3.14.2 is in Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 124, 135) (Unassigned). SSO224.

<19> Bowditch, S.P., 1982, Wheal Eliza Mine Reconstruction Drawing (Artwork). SEM7893.

<20> Unknown, Unknown, Wheal Eliza Mine Plan (Technical drawing). SEM7894.

<21> Siraut, M., Royal Forest, Exmoor: A guide to the Royal Forest of Exmoor, 11, 30-1 (Monograph). SEM7997.

Related records

MSO12504Parent of: Post-medieval adit at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12505Parent of: Post-medieval cottage at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12501Parent of: Post-medieval leat at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12502Parent of: Post-medieval leat at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12503Parent of: Post-medieval main shaft at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12507Parent of: Post-medieval mine buildings at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12508Parent of: Post-medieval sheepfold at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12506Parent of: Post-medieval surface workings and adits at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12509Parent of: Post-medieval tailrace at Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MMO2905Parent of: Post-medieval trackway alongside Wheal Eliza (Monument)
MSO12500Parent of: Post-medieval waterwheel at Wheal Eliza (Monument)

Other References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO49
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10869
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE8
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35004
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33007
Date Last Edited:Nov 6 2013 9:58AM


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