MSO12503 - 19th Century main shaft and adit at Wheal Eliza (Monument)


The main shaft and adit at Wheal Eliza Mine was in operation sporadically between 1846 and 1857. The shaft was used by William Burgess to dispose of the body of his daughter; it was later recovered and he was hanged in 1859.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

The main shaft and adit at Wheal Eliza mine (MSO6802). The site consists of a stone lined pit measuring 2 metres by 1.6 metres, with a gap to the south and the entrance to the adit on the north. This is 1 metre wide by 1.2 metres high, with a depressed arch. Two iron Y-shaped mountings about 1 metre apart stand 1 metre to the south of the entrance. There are wear grooves in the southern entrance. The adit runs for about 40 metres to the vertical, flooded shaft stated to be 300 feet deep by 1853. To the west of the entrance is a large spoil heap, revetted on the river side. [1-3] 6.4.1, SS 7847 3811. Wheal Eliza Main Shaft. In 1846 this shaft was sunk in the centre of a lode that had been exposed on the north bank of the River Barle. The mine captain was Oliver Matthews, who was replaced by Joseph Pryor in September, who found some "good stones of copper" about 5 metres down the shaft. The digging of a waterwheel that was brought into use in May 1847 (MSO12500) allowed the main shaft to be pumped by flat rods across the Barle and sinking was resumed. In 1849 work ceased for three months due to financial issues. By 1852 the shaft reached 65 metres and 91 metres by January 1853 without any significant amounts of copper ore excavated. In 1853 issues with the water pump prevented the mine being drained below 65 metres. Only small quantities of iron ore (not significant amounts of copper) were ever brought out and in September 1854 all work on site ceased. In 1856 the mine was involved in a lease to Schneider and Hannay, who pumped it out and prospected for iron ore but ended work early in 1857. In 1858, William Burgess murded his daughter and disposed of her body in this shaft. It was pumped out in December and her body was discovered. Burgess was convicted of murder and hanged in January 1859. 6.4.2, SS 7848 3811. Adit driven by Captain Pryor in 1846 to prove the north lode. Sited on the north bank of the river, 17.5 metres long, 0.76 metres wide and 1.8 metres high with an 11 metre cross cut 13 metres from the entrance following the lode to the east. There is a small pile of debris near the entrance damming the water in the level. [4] The 2018 MasterMap data depicts and labels the shaft at SS 7847 3811. It is within a fenced off area. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1>XY Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 35705, Site visit records, I Burrow, 19 July 1979. [Mapped feature: #34142 ]
  • <2> Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B.. 1980. Somerset Archaeology 1979. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 124. 136 (Measured Plan).
  • <3> Survey: SCC HBC 3.14.2.
  • <4> Report: Exmoor Mines Research Group. 1995. Report on the safety condition of disused mine workings on lands owned by Exmoor National Park Department and other lands nearby. 6.4.1 p16, 6.4.2 p16-17.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap.

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35705



Grid reference Centred SS 7846 3811 (44m by 58m)
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Aug 19 2019 3:43PM


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