By: Blonde Two
The Two Blondes were walking through the tin works at Eylesbarrow on Saturday. We have been there many times but this time I tried to take a bit more notice of my surroundings. There was clear evidence of streaming or using directed water streams to help with the collection of alluvial deposits (i.e. bits of tin) from river and stream beds. The mounds around Eylesbarrow although now grassy, show evidence of this. There were also some fenced off mine shafts. I have no idea how deep they were but do know that we have found at least one adit in the area – an adit is a horizontal hole dug into a hillside to drain water out of shafts above it.
If you pass one of these tine mining areas whilst up enjoying Dartmoor, take some time to have a look around you and see what you can find. If you have your map with you, have a go and adit hunting (it took us three separate attempts to find ours) or maybe you would enjoy a bit of girt navigation (girts are long man made holes in the ground). Around tinning areas, you often won’t just find evidence of the tinning itself. These tin men, I imagine, were hungry chaps and, if you look carefully, you will find the remains of tinners’ huts, man made rabbit warrens and even vermin traps. I like to imagine them all sitting around the fire, singing rabbity songs, eating rabbit stew and chewing rabbit bones.
It is hard to imagine a landscape that is so wild now being so inhabited and worked at one time. Tin mining was a big part of Dartmoor history though. From the 12th Century, right into the 20th Century. Man has left his mark on Dartmoor’s granite hills in many ways across history and Dartmoor has always managed to recover and become wild again. Despite it being a National Park, man (and Blonde) still manages to put a strain on the landscape; but have no doubt about it, if we should disappear tomorrow, Dartmoor wouldn’t take long to cover over any evidence of our ever being there.