MSO7477 - Kennisham Hill Pit (Monument)


Operated by the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company, the mine had been worked before 1867 by a drift and long adit. It was closed in 1883 and the engine house was demolished in 1978. It is now visible only as earthworks.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

"Kennisham Hill Pit, disused" is marked on the 6" 1962 map. it was one of the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company works. It had been worked before 1867 by a drift 150 ft deep and a long adit which emerged 350 yards to the east. The lodes were wide but the ground was soft and so needed much timbering. Little development until 1873 when a new drift (Curtis's - SS96303608) was sunk which connected with the original adit and reached l00ft by 1874. Ore was carried to Langham pit by means of an aerial cableway called "The Flying Machine". It was closed soon after but repoened in 1879, when it saw its greatest output; Curtis drift reached 468ft. A tramway was laid to Gupworthy Station, the trams being pulled by horses. The mine was finally closed in 1883, with the engine house being demolished in 1973. It had a rotary beam engine which did the pumping and the winding with one winding drum. [1-2] A water adit and well preserved entrance to the mine, inscribed "G. Collins Kennisham mine" are at SS96853595. [3] Engine house demolished 1978 but recorded. [4] There are earthwork remains visible of the mine workings. [7-9] A single granite block (former cylinder anchor stone) from the original engine house lies within a flat clear area adjacent to the designated picnic site, approximatley 200 metres to the east of the former Engine House. [10] The pumping and winding engine house was a copy of that at Burrow Farm. It became unsafe and was demolished in 1978, not 1973 as mentioned above. The building was surveyed in 1960 but the survey has not yet been published. [11-13] The mine was visited by the Russell Society in August 2015. Within the limited time period during which the Russell Society members were able to examine the mineralogy of the dumps (2.5 hours) seven minerals were definitely confirmed, with one “probable” and two “tentative”. Much more field work will be required to get a fuller understanding of the mineralogy. More sites will need to be sampled and detailed chemical analysis in the laboratory will be required. It is hoped to plan a return visit sometime in the future to resume this work. [14] Nothing survives of the engine house, and the shaft has been filled in. The area of the shaft head is surrounded by a smoothed spoil heap. To the east (and to the west) are a series of conjoined pits forming a linear trench, running approximately west-north-west to east-south-east. They run continuously for about 200 m east of the shaft head, and sporadically for 200 m to the west. These may represent mining operations predating the documented activity in the 19th century. Investigated as part of RCHME's East Exmoor Project and surveyed at 1:2500 scale. [15-17] 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 (18)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. SS93NE.
  • <2> Monograph: Sellick, R.. 1970. The West Somerset Mineral Railway and the Story of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines. David and Charles Limited. Second. 40, 44, 46, 51-2.
  • <3> Monograph: Bryant T.C. 1980. The Hollow Hills of Brendon. 5.
  • <4> Article in serial: Aston, M and Murles, B.J. 1979. Somerset Archaeology 1978. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 122. 146.
  • <5> Article in serial: Anon. 1981. Kennisham Hill Engine House. Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society Journal. 3. 40.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society. 26.07.77. Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society to Somerset County Council 26.07.77 - destruction of engine house. Correspondence re: demolition, at SCPD.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 3339-3340 (April 1947).
  • <8> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 9635-6.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3339-3340.
  • <10> Report: The Hartley Conservation Partnership + David Sekers Consulting Partnership. 2004. West Somerset Mineral Railway Conservation Plan. P.26.
  • <11> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Report on Proposed Low-Key Visitor Access to Industrial Sites on the Brendon Hills. P.16.
  • <12> Technical drawing: Jones, M.. 1960. Plans, Elevations and Section Drawings of Somerset Mines..
  • <13> Report: Coate, S.. The Brendon Hills Iron Industry. P.5.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Plant, S.. 2016. The Russell Society Newsletter: Number 68.
  • <15> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1999. Kennisham Pit/pencil survey. Unknown. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <16> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1999. Kennisham Pit/ink survey. Unknown. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <17> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 March 1999.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1128112, Updated 25 April 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 9698 3582 (1571m by 564m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS93NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (8)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11389
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 93 NE60
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1128112
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33745

Record last edited

Apr 25 2022 9:33PM


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