MSO7002 - Hangley Cleave Iron Mine (Monument)


Iron workings at Hangley Cleave begun by 1854, abandoned in 1857. The remains of spoil heaps, openworks, adits and shafts are visible as grass-covered features.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

'Old iron mine' is marked with associated earthworks on the 1978 Ordnance Survey map. [1] SS 7443 3649. Remains of iron working at Hangley Cleave. Hangley Cleave [2] or Hangley Cleeve [3] was one of the places where older workings were evident [3] and by 1854, by means of trenches, holes and cuts into hillsides, the existence of deposits of ore in this area was proved to Frederic Knight's satisfaction. The surface indications of a vein running roughly east to west were of a very favourable character. Operations, began by the Dowlais Iron Company of Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, about March 1856, were by 'patching' or open work along the vein which on the surface was about 4.5 metres wide [4]. Westward it proved to be nearly 2 metres thick, but eastward it quickly faded out. To drain the vein a drift was begun (about 115 metres to the north at SS 7444 3661) but when it struck the vein at a depth of 12 metres it had narrowed to under 2 metres. A shaft was sunk at this point (SS 7443 3649) and 1200 tons of rich brown hematite was raised at a cost of £700 before the vein petered out. Operations were abandoned in August 1857. The remains of the workings are still clearly evident about 460 metres above Ordnance Datum on a gentle rough grass-covered north-facing slope to the north of the road between Two Barrows and Kinsford Gate. The remains, all grass-covered and all with associated spoil heaps, consist of the open worked east/west vein, the north/south adit and drift, together with another adit or drift some 200 metres due east of the main shaft (about SS 7461 3646). The actual adit entrances and shaft have been blocked or caved in so it is not clear where their exact entrances were. Fragments of old tram rails are laid on the surface near to the shaft. It is not clear which are the earlier workings refered to. No survey action has been taken as most of the site is depicted, annotated Iron Mine (Disused), on the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map of 1890 (3), but it does require a large scale survey at a future date. [2-5] Surface mining features, consisting of a trench, ‘lode-back pits’, i.e. extraction pits that follow the surface outcrop, or ‘back’ of a lode, and 19th century features were identified at Hangley Cleave by the Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor preliminary survey. [6] Surveyed at 1:1000 scale, February 1999. [7-9] The remains of the iron workings at Hangley Cleave, consisting of openworks and associated spoil heaps, are clearly visible on several aerial photographs of the area. A complex drainage system can also be seen surrounding the working area, however there is no indication of tramlines as described above. It is possible that the linear drainage system has been misinterpreted as tramlines. [14,15] Hangley Cleeve was part of the Dowlais Iron Co works. It was in operation from 1856 to 1857, although earlier workings are evident. The adit was driven 194 yards, but there were little reserves. 1200 tons was raised at a cost of £700. [16] In 1853 Frederick Knight had several costean trenches dug across Exmoor to search for iron ore and in 1854 Blackwell and Rogers made several trials in the area, including at Hangley Cleave (SS 74 36). 5.2.1, SS 7440 3669. Llewelyn reported finding a lode 4.5 metres wide at this place. As a result, the Dowlais Company commenced work here in 1856 when George Martin ordered a search to be made for the Hangley Cleave lode by patching. The opencast trench followed the vein to the west where it was nearly 2 metres thick but it pinched out to the east. An adit was begun at SS 7440 3669 to drain the patchings and the lode was encountered about 12 metres below the surface but what remained was not thought to be worth following, so the adit was carried on towards the boundary of the take (c.150 metres away). No more ore was found and it was abandoned in August 1857. In total about 1200 tons of ore were brought out of the mine. The adit was thought to be about 220 metres long but much had collapsed and the entrance was blocked in 1995. A shaft may have been sunk onto the adit at SS 7441 3655. It was blocked in 1995. [17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [18]

Sources/Archives (19)

  • --- Unpublished document: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2024. Exmoor Local Heritage List assessed by the Panel on 21 February 2024.
  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. Ordnance Survey plan. 1:2500. SS7436.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890, Devon 11(10).
  • <3> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. P.121-147, Map on P.132.
  • <4> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P.147.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 October 1995.
  • <6> Report: Juleff, G.. 1997. Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor: Preliminary Survey. P.30, Table 1.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R., Jamieson, E., and Riley, H.. 1999. Hangley Cleave Iron Mine/pencil survey. 1:1000. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <8> Technical drawing: Jamieson, E., Wilson-North, R., and Riley, H.. 1999. Hangley Cleave Iron Mine Ink Survey. 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Riley, H., Wilson-North, R. + Jamieson, E. 17/02/1999.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF LHL CPE.UK.1980.4446 (April 1947).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. HSL/UK/71-167 75/7606 (September 1971).
  • <12> Monograph: Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J.. 1970. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. David and Charles Limited. 2nd Edition. P.184-185, 189-190.
  • <13> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7436.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96559 11-12 (7 May 1996).
  • <15> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189.
  • <16> Monograph: Siraut, M.. 2013. A Field Guide to The Royal Forest of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority. 11.
  • <17> 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. Exmoor Mines Research Group. 3, 5.2.1 p11.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 909533, Extant 29 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW28
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 1269352
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 909533
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33017



Grid reference Centred SS 2745 1366 (224m by 266m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Mar 4 2024 5:14PM


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