MSO6802 - Wheal Eliza Mine (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
SS 7845 3811 Wheal Eliza (disused) (NAT).  Wheal Eliza Mine was active between 1845 and 1857. It was first worked for copper, then iron. Various trial adits were dug before two main shafts were excavated to a depth of some 300 feet. These were pumped out by machinery powered from a waterwheel on the south side of the river, which was present by 1846. This was powered by two leats running back up the valley. [2, 21] A survey of the surviving remains was undertaken by Burrow and Jowson in 1979 for the Exmoor National Park (see plan).  Wheal Eliza lies within the Barle valley at SS 7847 3812. It consists of several shafts, spoil heaps and a range of ruined buildings on the north side of the river. On the south side are the remains of two leats, a wheel pit and a tail race. The two parts of the complex are connected by a modern footbridge. (Suggested for large-scale survey later in West Exmoor Project). [4, 5] The earthwork remains and ruined buildings of Wheal Eliza (originally called Wheal Maria) can be seen clearly on aerial photographs. On the north side of the River Barle, platforms and rectangular enclosures are visible, along with the footings of several buildings, presumably the cottages built here for the miners, or the blacksmiths and carpenters shops and Account house, which were completed in 1846. On the southern slopes, the shaft itself can be distinguished, but the most prominent remains are those of the leats and tail race, both of which were constructed in 1847 as part of a water powered pumping system. Worked ceased at Wheal Eliza in 1854, but started again briefly in 1856. By 1858 the mine had been abandoned and the machinery sold. [6-9] An iron mine was situated either side of River Barle, several elements of the mine remain.  The mine was originally called Wheal Maria, which was then changed to Wheal Eliza. It was a copper mine from 1845-54 and then iron mine until 1857 although first activity may be may be from 1552. The workings were encouraged by the Knight family, but were not successful due to insufficient ore. A road was built along the river Barle to Simonsbath. [11-14] The site is under private ownership.  The main entrance to Wheal Eliza mine led to an adit and a shaft 100 metres deep. The entrance was stone lined. Nine miners were employed in the mine during 1851, with five of these living in the two bedroom cottage alongside (MSO12505). In 1858 the body of Anna Maria Burgess was discovered in the mine. Her grave can be seen at St Luke's parish church in Simonsbath (MSO10240).  SS 785 381. Wheal Eliza is the site of the first recorded mining in the Royal Forest of Exmoor. It may have been worked in the 16th Century; however, in 1846 it was opened by a group of businessmen from South Molton as a copper mine. By May the lode had been uncovered at the surface, with a shaft sunk on to it from the north bank of the River Barle. Later an adit was driven on to the north lode about 100 metres east of the shaft. A waterwheel was installed in May 1847. Very little copper ore was recovered and work paused in October 1849. After further capital was invested, work recommenced and several promising lodes were intersected but nothing came of these and work ended in September 1854.  The site was visited for management purposes in 2010.  Woollands discusses the events around the murder of Anna Maria Burgess, who was found at the bottom of the mine shaft after it had been pumped clear of water on 2nd December 1858. 
- <1> SEM7222 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1980. 1:10000 Map, 1980. 1:10000.
- <2> SMO5325 Monograph: Buchanan, C.A.and Buchanan, R.A.. 1980. The Batsford Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Central Southern England. Batsford.
- <3> SSO858 Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B.. 1980. Somerset Archaeology 1979. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 124. 134-36 (with plan).
- <4> SMO7329 Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 October 1994.
- <5> SEM7691 Report: Instone, E.. 1995. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Industrial Monuments Assessment, Step 3 Reports: The Iron Mining Industry.
- <6> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3455-56 (11 April 1947).
- <7> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 543/2821 (F62) 169-70 (27 April 1964).
- <8> SEM7230 Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. 132-35.
- <9>XY SMO7573 Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190. [Mapped feature: #38532 ]
- <10> SSO1 Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. I Burrow, Site visit notes.
- <11> SSO1774 Monograph: Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J.. 1970. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. David and Charles Limited. 2nd Edition. P. 172-78.
- <12> SSO1544 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 25" SS7838.
- <13> SSO1040 Monograph: Dines, H.G. 1956. The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Volume 2.
- <14> SSO708 Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7838.
- <15> SSO1 Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
- <16> SSO232 Unassigned: History Somerset County Council.
- <17> SSO338 Unpublished document: Notes by Burrow on history etc.
- <18> SSO224 Unassigned: Historic Environment Service HBC 1:500 3.14.2 and 3 (3.14.2 is in Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 124, 135).
- <19> SEM7893 Artwork: Bowditch, S.P.. 1982. Wheal Eliza Mine Reconstruction Drawing. Pen and ink.
- <20> SEM7894 Technical drawing: Unknown. Unknown. Wheal Eliza Mine Plan. Paper. Pen and Ink.
- <21> SEM7997 Monograph: Siraut, M.. Royal Forest, Exmoor: A guide to the Royal Forest of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority. 11, 30-1.
- <22> SEM7068 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. 3.
- <23> SEM8715 Unpublished document: Harley, M.. 2010. Disused Mine Workings within the Authority's Estate.
- <24> SEM8751 Monograph: Woollands, C.R.. 2011. The Wheal Eliza Murder: The true story of the cruel slaying of Anna Maria Burgess. OffTheBookShelf.com.
- <25> SEM8819 Technical drawing: Unknown. Unknown. Wheal Eliza Mine Plan. Paper. Pen and Ink.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 7840 3812 (870m by 690m)|
|Civil Parish||EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (11)
- Parent of: 19th Century cottage at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12505)
- Parent of: 19th Century main shaft and adit at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12503)
- Parent of: Post-medieval adit at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12504)
- Parent of: Post-medieval leat at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12501)
- Parent of: Post-medieval leat at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12502)
- Parent of: Post-medieval mine buildings at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12507)
- Parent of: Post-medieval sheepfold at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12508)
- Parent of: Post-medieval surface workings and adits at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12506)
- Parent of: Post-medieval tailrace at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12509)
- Parent of: Post-medieval trackway alongside Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MMO2905)
- Parent of: Post-medieval waterwheel at Wheal Eliza (Monument) (MSO12500)
Related Events/Activities (1)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=35004 (Original Monarch entry: 35004)
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO49
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10869
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE8
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35004
- Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33007
Record last edited
Mar 2 2020 12:49PM
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