MDE20893 - Britannia Mine / Prince Regent Mine, Higher Mines Wood (Monument)


Britannia mine. At work for copper in the late 1840's. Opened up for gold and copper 1852-53. Probably also called prince regent mine. The gold was found over the iron and copper lodes. The mine closed early due to lack of financial support.

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Full Description

Britannia Mine. At work for copper in the late 1840s. Opened up for gold and copper 1852-53. Probably also called Prince Regent Mine [1]. The gold was found over the iron and copper lodes. The mine closed early due to lack of financial support. [2] Detailed history given. See child records for individual elements. [3] Copper working in early 19th Century. Opened for gold and copper 1852-3. Gold working failed in 1854. Not worked again. [4] The main area of Britannia Mine is shown within land parcel 1182 on the Tithe Map for North Molton. It is described as "Cottage and Rock Wood", part of "Cotty's Buckingham's and Lower Place" Estate, owned by Lord Poltimore and leased and occupied by John Dee. The cottage itself is not depicted on the map. [5] The 1st and 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey maps show elements of the mine. The area is labelled Higher Mines Wood. [6,7] Modern MasterMap data again labels the site as Higher Mines Wood. No earthwork features are depicted apart from a stream that begins at SS 7456 3354 and heads south to join the River Mole. [8] The remains of a copper mine complex in Higher Mines wood are centred at SS 7451 3369, and cover an area of 1.4 ha. They lie mostly in deciduous woodland on the northwest and west facing valley slopes of a tributary of the River Mole. The remains consist of a number of shafts and pits, a possible building, leats and a wheel pit. The site has been confused by the construction of a massive cut into the natural hillside to facilitate access to forestry plantations. This operation has destroyed the principle processing areas and has resulted in material being pushed over and largely obscuring the wheel pit. At SS 7449 3356 are the remains of a possible building. The structure measures 4.2 metres by 1.5 metres internally and has walls 1 metre wide and 0.6 metres high. It is cut slightly into the natural slope on the east side. At SS 7457 3355 are the remains of an arched opening, largely obscured by dumping, which represents the end of a wheel pit. The remainder of the stucture has been totally lost beneath the dump. Nevertheless a rectangular structure approximately 18 metres in length is depicted on the 25 inch 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1889. The leats approach the mine complex from the northwest. Two principal leats exist, the lower one now being cut obliquely by the modern road. They are 1.2 metres in width and have been cut 0.9 metres into the natural slope. Both are now truncated by the modern forestry cutting at their southeast end. The upper leat is joined by a third channel flowing northwestwards. It is not clear how this functioned, but it may have collected surface run off from the steep valley sides and channelled it into the upper leat. Three principal shafts survive at SS 7448 3358, SS 7453 3355 and at SS 7452 3358. A fourth shaft, at SS 7454 3359, has now been destroyed by the later forestry cutting and platform. Surveyed at 1:2500, March 12th 1993. [3,9] Copper mine of the 1840s reopened as a gold mine (Britannia Gold Mine) from 1852-4. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Article in serial: Claughton, P.F.. 1973. The Metalliferous Mines of North Devon and Exmoor. Plymouth Mineral and Mining Club Journal. 4, Part 1. 7.
  • <2> Article in serial: Beer, P.. 1972. 16th report of the Geological Section. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 104. 197-9. 199.
  • <3> Monograph: Dixon, D.. 1983. Mining and the Community in the Parishes of North Molton, South Molton, Molland and Twitchen, Devonshire. 130.
  • <4> Report: Claughton, P. F.. 1993. A List of Mines in North Devon and West Somerset. 120.
  • <5> Map: 1841. North Molton Tithe Map and Apportionment. Land parcel 1182.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <8> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 6 April 1993.
  • <10> Report: Instone, E.. 1995. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Industrial Monuments Assessment, Step 3 Reports: The Iron Mining Industry. The Minor Metals Industry Volumen 2, Devon 4.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 917407, Extant 1 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7451 3356 (135m by 194m)
Map sheet SS73SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (14)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 19861
  • Devon SMR: SS73SW/2
  • Devon SMR: SS73SW/43
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE11442
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 SW16
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 917407

Record last edited

Dec 1 2021 4:16PM


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