MDE1219 - Bampfylde Copper and Iron Mine, North Molton (Monument)


The mines operated between the 17th and late 19th centuries, except for a period in the late 18th and early 19th Century. Copper slag recovered from the site also provided a date of the 15th or 16th Century.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

Bampfylde Mine. Series of copper shafts and adits in Mole Valley. Great pit tip. Stonework of the mining machinery and adit entrances survives. Remains of the old Heasley cornmill. Richer ore than in cornish mines and lumps of almost pure bornite, malachite etc. Have been identified here. 19th century workings were extensive. Waterpower used for pumping. Private mineral railway in use in 1870s. Handicapped by flooding. [1] 'Bampfylde Copper Mine (Disused)' shown on Ordnance Survey map. [2] 'Bampfylde Mine (Disused)' shown on Ordnance Survey map. [3] Copper working on three principal east to west lodes. Main workings are Hands Shaft (MDE21409), No 4 Shaft (MDE21229), Engine Shaft (MDE21231) and Bampfylde Shaft (MDE21419). Copper working documented in North Molton in 1346 and c1528. Precis of mine workings given from 1696 to c1880. Model of dressing machine in Exeter Museum. Shafts currently being filled in as part of exploration by John Rottenbury of Alswear. [4] B2, Bampfylde Mine, see Britannia and Poltimore, North Molton. Plan R86C. Copper and iron barytes reported by Sir A Russell. Shaft about one thousand foot deep. Gold reported. [5] SS 738328. Bampfylde Mines at Heasley Mills were extensively mined for copper in the 17th and early 18th Century. After being abandoned before 1778 and then reopened about 1815 they were finally closed down in the 1880s. [6] Shafts and adits of a number of east to west veins, situated on either side of the Mole Valley. Worked for copper and gold. Brief history given. [7] A very rapid visit confirmed that a number of the elements of the mine recorded by Dixon have since been substantially modified, partially by unqualified attempts at excavation. Particularly affected is the extensive area in the vicinity of 3/1, where a machine has been used, and also areas to the west of the road. Visit by Griffith and Bowman. [8] Bampfylde Mine, also known as North Molton Copper Mine or Westwood Mine in the 18th Century. Reference to 'Prince Regent Mine' appears to refer to reopening in 1808 to 10. [9] Copper mined since medieval times at Bampfylde but was later mined for iron. Late 19th Century remains provide a rare example of a processing complex, an elaborate water management system with at least 5 water wheels & high quality documentary and cartographic evidence. Provides the only example of a 19th Century crusher installed specifically to crush iron ore. [10] 1698 reference indicates that the mine consisted of 3 lodes running northeast to southwest. Shafts were narrow and wood lined, with a maximum depth of 35 fathoms. Hoisitng by hand gin and basket. There were no buildings or "jet d'eaus". No mention of adits. Ore was carried by packhorse to Barnstaple. [16] 1725 reference to "2 works. On both sides of the River Moule," run by the Bristol Company. Water engines had been erected by this time, one powered by a 30 foot waterwheel. The two portions of the mine were 30 fathoms and 40 fathoms deep. [17,22] The mine seems to have been disused by 1747-58, but was marked on Donn's 1765 map [30]. Exeter Flying Post reports opening of the mine belonging to Richard Bampfylde in 1764. A plan of 1772 shows the full extent of workings, indicating that most of the recent work had been in the east section. At this time the mine was approx 360 feet deep. It had clearly been worked in two halves, almost as separate mines, with ample evidence that the west section had once been extensively worked, but was by this time being cleared. Lyssons puts the date of closure of the 18th Century workings as before 1778. Mine reopened around 1802, but failed 1846. A new company formed in 1856. Described in 1862 as being 80 fathoms deep. Sold by auction in 1864. 1868 inventory lists a large house, cottages, offices and garden, smithy, carpenter's shop and changing houses. Jigging machine and picking table installed in 1870. Circa 1870 the mine was sold again. By 1874 it produced both copper and iron ore. Tramway constructed in 1873. Mine closed in 1882. 1888 Ordnance Survey plan shows all buildings on No 4 Shaft to have been dismantled, together with the valley bottom dressing floor. Hands Shaft appears to have been infilled. Buildings at mine centre remained intact, but were roofless by 1903. See Monument child records for individual elements. [18] Copper slag with some charcoal found at Bampfylde Mine in 2005. The charcoal within the slag found in the field to the east of the River Mole suggests smelting on the site from an early date. [24] Radiocarbon analysis of the charcoal element of copper slag from Bampfylde Mine gave a most probable (80%) date of 1420-1530. The 15th to 16th Century date makes Bamfylde Copper Mine an important site for the history of smelting in England. [26] Bamfylde Mines at Heasley Mills were extensively mined for copper in the 17th and early 18th centuries [19]. After being abandoned before 1778 and then reopened about 1815 they were finally closed down in the 1880s. The remains of the Bampfylde copper (and iron) mining complex are centred at SS 7390 3268. They occupy the steep sided and predominantly wooded and afforested valley of the River Mole (here flowing north to south), and cover approximatley 9 hectares. Documentary evidence suggests that copper was being mined here from the 14th Century [4]. Intense activity began at the end of the 17th Century. By 1724 workings existed on either side of the valley, and pumping was by water power. The mine is marked by Donn in 1765 [29]. There is a sectional drawing through the mine workings on the eastern side of the River Mole dated 1772 [33]. Work ceased shortly after this and the mine was only reopened in 1803-4. The 19th Century saw a continuing exploitation of the workings, by various companies. By mid-century an attempt was made to work the gold deposits within the copper lodes, but it proved uneconomic. The 1870s saw an increasing interest in iron production, and a corresponding fall in the levels of copper production. Copper production appears to have ceased altogether in 1880, and the North Devon Mining Co. was finally closed in 1885 [4]. The copper deposits are on three principal west to east lodes on either side of the valley. These were worked by a system of shafts and adits. Power was supplied by water from the 1720s onwards, and a system of leats brought water into the complex from the north and northeast (see MDE11438, MDE11503 and MDE11497). The remains of five wheel pits are visible at SS 7379 3281, SS 7379 3273, SS 7389 3279, SS 7392 3265 and SS 7392 3251. These were used variously for pumping and winding and for processing. In association with one of the pits (at SS 7392 3265) is a crusher house. It is a rectangular structure measuring 4.5 metres by 3.5 metres internally and standing to 5.2 metres in height. The walls are 0.8 metres thick, and there is a doorway 1.2 metres wide at the eastern end of the south wall. The wheel pit itself measures 9.5 metres in length, and is cigar shaped with a central width of 2.2 metreswhich tapers towards either end to 1.4 metres. It is 3.2 metres deep. The wheel pit at SS 7392 3251, at the southern end of the complex is probably associated with the exploitation of iron at Bampfylde in the 1870s. It is some 5.5 metres long, 1.4 metres wide and stands to 1.5 metres in height. Adjacent to it on the east side is a structure 3.7 metres square internally. It stands to a maximum of 2 metres in height and has a doorway, 1.2 metres wide, at the western end of the south wall. Immediately adjacent to it is a stockpile of iron ore. The iron workings associated with it are some 75 metres to the west [6]. The wheel was fed by a leat from the north, on the eastern slopes of the Mole valley (see plan). This was probably a continuation of MDE11497. The processing of the copper ore was carried out in the area around SS 7390 3265. All that now survives in this area are the remains of a series of rectangular ponds within a deep gulley (or lobby) running parallel with the River Mole, but separated from it by a massive embankment of spoil 4.5 metres high. To the east is a north to south roughly level area. A photograph taken in 1870 shows a number of buildings in this area, perhaps associated with the dressing of the ore [18]. A platform at SS 7393 3278 with traces of stone footings upon it is all that remains of this feature. To the south the River Mole occupies a cutting 2.5 metres deep for some 220 metres. The early Ordnance Survey editions show that this stretch of the river originally was connected only with the series of ponds already described. As such, therefore, it was probably built to act as a tailings pond for the complex. After the abandonment of the mines the River Mole presumably burst through from the course shown on the early Ordnance Survey editions and occupied the deeper artificial cutting. At SS 7387 3280 are the remains of the Mine Captain's house. This is depicted on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 25 inch mapping of 1886 [34], but is shown roofless by the 2nd Edition of 1906 [2]. The building survives as a complex of rooms and disjointed sections of walling nowhere higher than 0.9 metres, with heaps of collapsed masonry. On the western side of the River Mole and adjacent to the modern road at SS 7383 3275 are the remains of a possible row of rectangular structures measuring 28.8 metres by 4.1 metres, with walls standing to 0.8 metres. On the western side of the road at SS 7382 3273 are the remains of further structures overlaid by spoil or dumping. Only the eastern and extreme southern tip of the complex is visible. At SS 7383 3266 are the remains of a small rectangular building measuring 2.7 metres by 2.0 metres internally and with walls 1.4 metres in height and 0.6 metres thick. It is alleged to be a powder house. The remains of a former engine house are visible at SS 7357 3274. They consist of a rectangular block with walls surviving to a little above ground level, except at the north end of the eastern side where they are 2.5 metres high. A pair of stone lined pits 1.3 metres square, to the west are associated with the head gear for the shaft. The central part of the Bampfylde complex was surveyed at 1:1250, March 1993 [26-28] The shafts and several of the buildings associated with Bampfylde Mine are clearly visible on aerial photographs of the area which were examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Project in 2009. [30-32] An unsigned and undated painting of the Bampfyld Mine site. [35] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [36] The site was visited by the West Somerset Mineral Railway Association in March 2020. [37]

Sources/Archives (37)

  • <1> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Site visit, Youell, 1972.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1888-1914. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 6 Inch Map. 1:10560. 1906, 15NW.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1963. 6 Inch Map: 1963.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Claughton, P.F.. 1989. Mining sites in North Devon, Bampfylde.
  • <5> Article in serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1952. Notes on the Mines of Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. P. 89, Fig 1.
  • <6> Article in serial: Slee, A. H.. 1938. Some Dead Industries of North Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 70. 127. P. 127.
  • <7> Article in serial: Claughton, P.F.. 1973. The Metalliferous Mines of North Devon and Exmoor. Plymouth Mineral and Mining Club Journal. 4, Part 1. P. 7.
  • <8> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Site visit, FM Griffith and Bowman, 1994.
  • <9> Report: Claughton, P. F.. 1993. A List of Mines in North Devon and West Somerset. P. 115,119.
  • <10> Article in serial: Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Recording the Iron Mines of Exmoor. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South West-Britain. Mining History: bulletin PDMHS. 13, Number 2. 137-42. P. 137-42.
  • <11> Article in serial: Beer, P.. 1972. 16th report of the Geological Section. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 104. 197-9. P. 198-9.
  • <12> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7332A, SS7432A..
  • <13> Aerial photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF/CPE/1980.3380. CPE/UK.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: MAM. 1977. MAM/12/052.
  • <15> Report: Dixon, D.. 1978. Report of visit to Bampfylde Copper Mine. Site visit.
  • <16> Collection: Unknown. unknown. Translation of Thomas Cletscher's Relation of the European Mines in 1696. Rhys Jenkins Papers. Record Office Collection.
  • <17> Collection: Unknown. Unknown. Translation of J. Kahlmeter's relation of the English mines in 1725. Rhys Jenkins Papers. Record Office Collection.
  • <18> Monograph: Dixon, D.. 1983. Mining and the Community in the Parishes of North Molton, South Molton, Molland and Twitchen, Devonshire. 233.
  • <19> Monograph: Vancouver, C.. 1813. A General View of Agriculture.
  • <20> Monograph: Claughton, P. F.. 1992. The Combemartin Mines.
  • <21> Article in monograph: Willies + Cranstone. 1992. Medieval Silver-Lead Mining in Devon. Boles and Smeltmills.
  • <22> Report: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper: Brass: Tin). 1, 13. P. 1, 13.
  • <23> Article in serial: Claughton, P. F.. 1992. The North Molton Copper mine; riches in the west. North Devon Heritage Journal. 4. 6. P. 2-7.
  • <24> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Correspondence, T Dunkerley, 2005.
  • <25> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Correspondence, T Dunkerley, 2005.
  • <26> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R., Sainsbury, I., and Newman, P.. 1993. Bampfylde copper and iron mining complex/pencil survey . 1:1250. General: Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <27> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I., Wilson-North, R., and Newman, P.. 1993. Bampfylde copper and iron mining complex/ink survey . 1:1250. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <28> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 6 April 1993.
  • <29> Map: Donn, B.. 1765. A Map of the County of Devon.
  • <30> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF 106G/UK/1420 3442-43 (15 April 1946).
  • <31> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3380-81 (11 April 1947).
  • <32> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 SW. MD002194.
  • <33> Unassigned: Blake, J.. 1722. "A section of the Eastern Part of the West Wood Copper Mines at North Molton".
  • <34> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <35> Technical drawing: Unknown. Unknown. Bampfyld Mine.
  • <36> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35097, Extant 1 December 2021.
  • <37> Article in serial: Gannon, P.. 2020. Mining Adventures. The Old Mineral Line Newsletter. 9. November 2020, 1-2. 1-2.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS73SW/3/1
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 1581
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 33710
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46112
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46852
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46853
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46856
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46857
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 46867
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 708
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 709
  • Devon SMR: SS73SW/3
  • Devon SMR: SS73SW/65
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20062
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO66
  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 SW8
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35097



Grid reference Centred SS 7378 3270 (703m by 571m)
Map sheet SS73SW

Finds (2)

Related Monuments/Buildings (29)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Nov 30 2022 10:05AM


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