Alluvial tin streamwork in Lydford Woods


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017248

Date first listed: 15-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Alluvial tin streamwork in Lydford Woods
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Brentor

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Lydford

National Grid Reference: SX 49517 83732


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

On Dartmoor, tin streamworks represent intermittent tin working activity dating from the medieval period to the 20th century. During this time previously abandoned works were often brought back into production, while some streamworks are still not exhausted, raising the possibility that they may become viable once again. Streamworks exploited tin deposits that had been detached from the parent lode and redeposited by streams and rivers within either alluvial deposits in valley bottoms or in eluvial deposits in shallow, steeper tributaries on hillsides. The technique involved large scale extraction (which has left major earthworks visible in the landscape) and the use of water to separate tin from the lighter clays and silts which contained it. The water derived either from canalised streams or reservoirs fed by specially constructed leats which can be seen running for several miles along the contours of many hillsides. The streamworks themselves survive as a series of spoil dumps, channels and disused work areas which indicate their character and development. Streamworking was particularly prevalent on Dartmoor, being by far the most numerous and extensive type of tinwork on the moor. Remains are to be found in most valley bottoms and on many hillsides, where they make a dominant contribution to landscape character as well as providing unusually detailed evidence for medieval industry. Streamworks on Dartmoor will be considered for scheduling where they are well preserved and representative of the industry in this area, or where there is a demonstrable relationship with medieval and later settlement and its associated remains.

Despite agricultural activity and afforestation, the alluvial tin streamwork in Lydford Woods survives well and contains information concerning the developing technology associated with the exploitation of valley bottom tin deposits. Of particular interest, is the evidence for the reuse of disused tyes as dumping areas for dressing wastes.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an alluvial tin streamwork situated at the foot of a steep sided valley formed by the River Lyd. The streamwork contains a range of well preserved earthworks which suggest multi-phase exploitation of the tin deposits. The southern limit of the streamwork is denoted by the River Lyd, whilst most of the northern edge is defined by a wide channel which lies immediately next to the Bridestowe/Brentor parish boundary bank. The area between these two prominent features includes a large number of distinctive parallel linear earthworks which represent the dumps from alluvial streamworking. The dominant alignment of these dumps is north east to south west, meaning that most lie approximately at right angles to the River Lyd. There are however, three distinct areas where the dumps lie approximately parallel with the river. A programme of survey, excavation and augering has revealed the general sequence of events and identified areas where waste slimes from the dressing process were dumped. The forest tracks leading through the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground below is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 28698

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gerrard, S, Lydford Woods alluvial tin streamwork, (1997)

End of official listing