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This walk: 2013-6-26. Norsworthy Bridge, C (County) stone, Norsworthy tin mill, tinners' fougou, Leathertor Farm, potato cave, River Meavy, Leather Tor Bridge, ancient ford, Riddipit Steps stepping stones, Riddipit Farm longhouse, Riddipit Tin Mill, 2nd potato cave - with luminous moss, mortar stone, adit, Riddipit Gert, Keaglesborough Mine, wheel pits, leat bank, Classeywell Farm, Kingsett Farm, feathers & tare stone, Norsworthy Farm.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Link to Google Satellite view of the area

 

Norsworthy Bridge, at the "far end" of Burrator Reservoir (from the dam), over the River Meavy.

 

An unusual feature, the letter "C" inscribed on a boulder (towards the front left area where the moss is removed) instead of on a proper "boundary" stone, at SX 56689 69346, signifying a County stone, 100 yards from the end of the bridge. These date from the Bridges Act 1803 (see down the article) which included: " ..... namely, the 'County Surveyor' of the County responsible for the upkeep of subject bridges, and the roads over them for 100 yards past the ends of the bridge ....." Prior to this, bridges were subject to the Bridges Act, 1530 and several others that have come and gone. The "C" stones must date from the 1803 Act: those on Dartmoor are listed on Legendary Dartmoor - The County Stones.

 

The inscribed letter "C" in close-up: the stone is now covered in moss.

 

Apparent practice stone showing several holes drilled by a "jumper" as used to make the holes for rock splitting by the tare and feathers method, that was introduced after AD 1800. The stone is located in the track, about 20 paces up from the road at Norsworthy Bridge, going to Crazy Well Pool (well before the turn-off to Leather Tor Bridge). The linked page includes a photograph of a "jumper".

 

The well known "blowing house" (actually Norsworthy Tin Mill, SX 5687 6958), on the main track after turning left up the track from Norsworthy Bridge, on the left bank (looking downstream) of the River Meavy. This site is described by Eric Hemery, High Dartmoor, page 126 .....

 

From Legendary Dartmoor - Tin Mills page .....

Norsworthy Bridge Mill SX 5673 6938 Pre 1750
Norsworthy Bridge Mill (B) SX 5687 6942 Pre 1750
Norsworthy Mill* - most easily visited SX 5687 6958 Pre 1750
Norsworthy Mill (B) SX 5674 6954 Pre 1750

Somewhere I noted another at SX 56720 69770.

An aside: "Another tinners' mill lies above the right bank 50 yards downstream, and can be found by following a wall which leaves the bank at right-angles. Nearby is a triple mortar stone." Source: George Thurlow (1993 & 2001) Thurlow's Dartmoor Companion, Peninsula Press, page 295. This must be the wheel-pit found at SX 56737 69548 (Norsworthy Mill B).

There is also the postulated Riddipit tin mill (blowing house) and the smaller wheel-pit (blowing house?) of Keaglesborough mine to consider, both seen later in this walk. The area is rich in tinning history.

It should be borne in mind that tin ore was crushed to a powder in stamping (or "knocking" or "knacking") mills. Knakke is an old Middle English word for "strike" or "crack". The powdered ore was smelted in blowing houses - crushing and smelting did not necessarily occur at the same location. Unless mould stones are found, it is safer to assume that these small houses were stamping mills, as often indicated by the presence of indented mortar stones. A paper by Tom Greaves, entitled Tin smelting in Devon in the 18th and 19th centuries, gives a lot of local detail.

 

The tin mill (seen from across the river), the access stile, at SX 56787 69590, is seen at top right in this photograph .....

 

Another view (again, from across the river), with the access stile at top left. Mortar and mould stones can be seen on the floor. There are also two stones used to accommodate axle bearings, one of which has a depression from rotational wear (Thurlow, p. 295).

 

General view of two mortar stones with multiple contact points, on which the ore was pounded by a water wheel-operated stamp or stamps .....

 

The two pairs of stamp impressions here suggest that there might have been a pair of stamps .....

 

A second mortar stone also shows a pair of stamping impressions ..... this may also be the stone referred to as showing signs of rotational wear in some books (see the reference to Thurber under the 3rd photograph below) , but it is square-cut as well .....

 

A largely buried mould stone (possibly not, because of the long slot; Thurlow, p.295) into which molten tin was cast into ingots to be taken to (Plympton, the nearest?) stannary town for assay and taxing .....

 

A cavity in the mill wall.

 

Looking for the reputed water wheel axle bearing stone that shows signs of rotational wear (but this stone was "square-cut?). Source: George Thurlow (1993 & 2001), Thurlow's Dartmoor Companion, Peninsula Press, pages 294-295.

 

Double mortar stone, against which the dropping stamps pounded the tin ore, on the river bank ....

 

A mortar stone, well-used, in the River Meavy.

 

The famous Dartmoor Treacle Mine, seen across the recently cleared Meavy valley, previously hidden. It is requested that we do not disabuse Wikipedia of their fond belief that this place is fictitious ................  

Alternatively, the fougou (Cornish for "cave" or vooga in "Devon") at SX 56721 69774: a tinners' cache, dug into a bank where they would keep tools overnight to save carrying them long distances. It is located directly below Leathertor Farm (and its public path signpost - visible above, against a tree) and can be viewed from the Norsworthy Bridge-to-Leather Tor Bridge track at SX 56772 69746.

 

If you get lost in the dark after clicking below - press your browser back icon, or backspace key or Alt + back arrow keys at the same time .....


 

Fougou internal view, note the granite slabs forming the roof, making this a man-made cave (for tools) rather than the more usual potato cave, the latter normally being dug into growan. Anyway, there is a traditional potato cave just up the track at Leathertor Farm.     

 

Leathertor Farm (left), and its potato cave (right) .....

 

Leathertor Farm, at SX 56686 69809, first mentioned 1362, first recorded 1511 (maybe earlier), last used 1924. Some occupants were also tinners. Source: Paul Rendell (2007) Exploring Around Burrator, The Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, pages 20 and 55.

 

About 50 metres down the road towards Leather Tor Bridge, at SX 56717 69812, a potato cave, 32 x 7 x 8 ft high. It is described by Eric Hemery, High Dartmoor, page 126. It would have been used for storing root crops, including potatoes and swedes - no doubt for their pasties! A photograph was taken inside this cave on 22nd July 2011.

 

Leather Tor Bridge, at SX 56885 69960. Walkhampton Parish Council decided on 20th June 1833 to build a bridge over Riddipit Stream (nowadays, the River Meavy) at this spot (this is the site of the Riddipit Steps stepping stones crossing place). At the next meeting the following month (25th July) it was resolved to accept a tender from George Worth and Wm. Mashford for 26.10s. The seven stepping stones of the old Riddipit Steps are still to be seen, four in situ and three displaced by floods. Alongside the steps is the even older ford. Source: Eric Hemery, High Dartmoor, page 126. Apparently, this was the last clapper bridge to be built on Dartmoor (Johnies Meanderings, 20th August 2012).

 

Leather Tor Bridge (right, 1833), the old ford (Bronze Age? centre) and Riddipit Steps (stepping stones, Medieval e.g. 1564, the age of Riddipit Farm, left). The stepping stones are seen better in the next photograph - note the triangular light-coloured stone on the left, in the water (and in the next photograph) .....

 

The remains of the seven Riddipit stepping stones, four are in place but three are moved by flood water.

 

Looking down the River Meavy from Leather Tor Bridge, the stepping stones are clearly seen.

 

The ruins of Riddipit Farm longhouse, beside the track - the corners are indicated by the "V" symbols; the house measures 24.4 x 5.33 metres (80 x 17.5 feet), measured using a 50-metre tape.. There appears to be a lintel structure in the lower (downhill) end wall, perhaps as drainage from the shippon i.e. the end where animals were housed. First recorded 1564, abandoned by 1871 when the enclosures were incorporated into Leather Tor Farm. Source: Paul Rendell (2007) Exploring Around Burrator, The Dartmoor Company, pages 31 and 57 ......

 

Looking up the slope with a 6 ft 4 ins figure halfway up the longhouse to show the scale .....

 

A slit window, still intact, in the lower end wall between the two "V"'s in the second previous photograph .....

 

Closer view of the window .....

 

Riddipit Farm longhouse, from the stile at SX 56989 70090 .....

 

Riddipit Tin Mill right beside the track, at SX 57020 70162 .....

 

Presumed mortar stone, with a shallow impression from a tin stamp.

 

The big potato cave at SX 57104 70336. RN Worth (1967) Worth's Dartmoor, David & Charles, page 417, describes it as a potato cave (always dug into growan) but Eric Hemery (1983) High Dartmoor, Robert Hale, London, page 129, argues that it shows signs of corbelling (as used in beehive huts, never seen in potato caves) and is in fact a cache (or vooga / fougou) for miners' tools from the Keaglesborough (Kekelles Burrowghe) Tin Mine .....

 

The entrance .....

 

Non-flash photograph of luminous moss or goblin's gold (presumably Schistozega pennata) - note the large stone near the front and just right of centre, for the following photographs. Source: Norman Baldock & John Walters (2008) The Wildlife of Dartmoor, pages 115 and Index .....

 

Luminous moss - flash photograph .....

 

As previous photograph, further zoomed ..... YouTube movie of luminous moss .....

 

Luminous moss, close-up .....

 

As previous photograph: the moss has round, lens-like cells that reflect light, presumably to maximise what little light there is in dark places, so as to maximise the photosynthetic process by which it produces sugars for energy to power its life processes.

 

View from the rear of the cave, natural light .....

 

As previous photograph, manipulated flash light.

 

White-topped post marking the adit in Riddipit Gert (of Keaglesborough Mine), at SX 57212 70065 ..... the easiest access is via SX 57241 70042 .....

 

Adit entrance, this seems to be partially blocked by a fallen stone .....

 

Another view .....

 

Internal view, gated for safety reasons to keep casual explorers from entering this slightly dodgy hole in the ground. The photograph was taken by reaching the camera as far as possible past the fallen stone - this boy does not do dodgy holes in the ground!

 

Leather Tor, SX 563 700, elevation 380 metres (1246 feet) with the sun coming out from the clouds.

 

Wheel-pit (filled-in), at SX 57287 70092, looking down the slope, below the main wheel-pit of Keaglesborough Mine (next photograph).

Hemery (p.128) discusses the whereabouts of a blowing house in this area "This enclosure, overplanted and above the head of Riddipit Gert, is north of the Raddick-Norsworthy Lanes junction; the relics it contains confirm the documentary evidence that Keaglesborough blowing house was situated here rather than at the riverside". Somewhere around SX 57365 70073? Could it be the photograph above, it is in the same area? It can also use the tail race water from the main water wheel that probably drove the stamps to crush the ore?

 

Keaglesborough Mine main wheel-pit, looking up the slope, at SX 57375 70116 ..... the only known date for the mine is it's closure in 1810 (Hemery, p.128).

 

As previous photograph, looking down the slope ..... showing the wheelpit and tail race running towards the smaller wheel-pit.

 

Standing between the wheelpit and its tailrace, with Leather Tor, left, and Sharpitor, right (SX 560 703, elevation 410 metres (1345 feet) behind .....

 

Our happy band of explorers.

 

Leat bank, looking down the slope, just above the main wheel-pit (which is just across the wheel ruts).

 

The leat bank in the middle-distance, running to the right, with the leat itself running in from bottom right: Peek Hill is seen at the right.

 

Broken double mortar stone alongside the track to Crazy Well Pool, at SX 57512 70034 .....

 

When raised, it proves to have been a double-sided double mortar stone.

 

Classeywell Farm, SX 5809 7005, first mentioned 1565 (recorded 1575), abandoned by 1873. Last used 1910-1914 (the land of several old farms was used again around the time of WW1).  Click the image to see a larger version.

 

Classeywell (alternatively, Claceywell and Clazeywell) Farm .....

Aside: "An unfinished quern ......... Hemery was of the opinion that this stone, laying in the court of the deserted farm site, is an unfinished quern, broken during manufacture. Perhaps it was merely a small mortar." Source: George Thurlow (1993 & 2001) Thurlow's Dartmoor Companion, Peninsula Press, page 223. Today, we i.e. Mike, found it ..... 

 

The stone is located within the enclosed or courtyard, just inside its downhill wall.

 

Classeywell Farm .....

 

Classeywell Farm .....

 

Classeywell Farm .....

 

Classeywell Farm .....

 

Classeywell Farm .....

 

Classeywell Farm, looking up the entrance track with the top corner of Raddick Plantation visible in the background.....

 

Sheep creep in a field wall, at SX 58011 70053.

 

Approaching the ruins of Kingsett Farm .....

 

Kingsett Farm, SX 5768 6992, recorded in 1333 as Kingsette and paying taxes, The farm was bought from the Maristow Estate by Plymouth City Council, after which the farm was prohibited from keeping animals (a measure against polluting the new reservoir, opened in 1898). Sam Pearse and his family were given notice to quit, which they eventually did in September 1924, without compensation or any other help. Source: Source: Paul Rendell (2007) Exploring Around Burrator, The Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, pages 17 and 55.

 

Kingsett Farm, the main dwelling house .....

 

Aside: Stages of decomposition of local granite enabled the manufacture of high-quality ceramics i.e. using china clay. Less refined products were the building bricks marked Martin Lee Moor seen e.g. at the derelict site of Kingsett Farm. Source: George Thurlow (1993 & 2001) Thurlow's Dartmoor Companion, Peninsula Press, page 319.

 

A large beech tree at Kingsett Farm .....

 

The tree is located at SX 57676 69906 and has a measured girth (using a 50-metre tape) of 4.96 metres (16 ft 3.25 ins). Using the premise of 25 mm (1 inch) of increase in girth per annum in good growing conditions, this suggests an age of 195 years. If the tree is now "mature" and getting into old age, then it will not be growing so much, and in this case the tree could be well over 200 years old. Source: Paul Sterry (2007) Collins Complete Guide to British Tree, Harper Collins Publishers, page 24.

We have reported this tree to the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Hunt, the record can be seen by clicking on the following link .....

> http://www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/recording/tree?tree=e%2bgenVrjL02ySvGdG1oNHA  (the link is in full format because it seems not to work if edited into any short form).

Some other Woodland Trust links .....

Another old tree was seen on one of our walks on 7 November 2012 near Drakeford Bridge.

Followers of this web site may be interested in the record of a recorded ancient tree in the car park at Postbridge: Tree 110530

 

Kingsett Farm, panorama taken from in the farm yard, with the top corner of Raddick Plantation visible in the background (similar to the view from nearby Classeywell Farm).  Click the image to see a larger version.

 

Kingsett Farm.

 

Abandoned feathers and tare rock splitting attempt at SX 56982 69494, beside the main Norsworthy Bridge-Crazy Well Pool track i.e. Norsworthy Lane.

 

Another view .....

 

A line of abandoned, broken feathers and tares .....

 

A broken-off central tare with a broken feather behind - see Splitting Granite for an explanation.

 

Norsworthy Farm, SX 5685 6948, first recorded in 1384, abandoned between 1891 (occupied at that time by Thomas & Elizabeth Creber) and 1894. There are two dated stones nearby: (1) on a small island in the River Meavy, bearing 1840 and (2) on a large upright stone behind the buildings, bearing 184[1]. Source: Paul Rendell (2007) Exploring Around Burrator, The Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, pages 29 and 56. We haven't located them yet.

 

Norsworthy Farm, showing the track to Crazy Well Pool and Nun's Cross .....

 

Norsworthy Farm, another view .....

 

Norsworthy Farm, another view .....

 

Norsworthy Farm, a bit of an overview .....

 

Norsworthy Farm, a building on the left of the track where it turns off towards Leather Tor Bridge.

 

Trying to locate the old farm longhouse, the ruins are probably behind the photograph, judging by the summit of Leather Tor visible at top-left of the photograph and in the top-centre of the background .....

 

The summit of Leather Tor is marked by a "V" in both the photograph and the held photograph. The photograph is from The Dartmoor Archive, specifically here.  Photographs in the Archive are subject to a copyright agreement and the image shown here is done so by kind permission of The Dartmoor Trust Archive. 

 

The photograph is labelled Oct. 1894.

 

Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk. This map is larger than is normally offered on this web site, so as not to clutter some of the items of  interest that occur fairly close together.



© Crown copyright and database rights 2012  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.


 

This walk was reached by driving to Dousland, turning at the Burrator Inn crossroads towards Meavy, then left to Burrator Reservoir, continuing past the dam to the top end of the reservoir, over the small bridge (Norsworthy Bridge) and parking in that area, indicated on the map by the yellow cross.

 

Statistics
Distance - 5.47 km / 3.40 miles.

 

All photographs on this web site are copyright ©2007-2016 Keith Ryan.
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