Rescorla's works, Trewellard Bottoms, Geevor.  HES.
 

 

 
The World Heritage Site Areas
 

[location maps] [historic landscapes] [sites & monuments] [interactive GIS mapping]

 

The inscribed Site consists of the most authentic and historically significant surviving components of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape from the period 1700 to 1914. This cultural landscape is a testament to the profoundly important process of pioneer metal mining, to its industrialisation, and to the innovations which occurred here and had a fundamental influence on the mining world at large during the nineteenth century.
 

The Areas now inscribed as a World Heritage Site

There are ten areas (A1-10) in the inscribed Site whose landscapes represent former mining districts, ancillary industrial concentrations and associated settlements. They share a common identity despite having developed separately from one another. Where they border the sea, their boundary extends only as far as the Mean Low Water Mark (as defined by the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey) this being the legal limit as far as the statutory planning responsibilities of local authorities is concerned.
 
 

Map gallery

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Map showing the distribution of the Areas which together comprise the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site


Defining a mining landscape and World Heritage Site

The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site is a complex one, taking as its theme the broad impact of the revolution within mining technology which took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries within Cornwall and west Devon. Those effects were not by any means limited to mining sites alone - for we feel we can prove that they were responsible for a whole-sale transformation of a substantial proportion of the landscape of a region which had formerly been predominantly rural, yet which rapidly developed an industrial and transport infrastructure, within which new towns and many smaller settlements quickly developed to house a burgeoning, specialist population. The rural landscape did not remain unchanged either: swathes of open, common land were enclosed for agriculture, at first for smallholdings, where miners and their families supplemented their incomes by working a few hectares, but increasingly for new farms to feed a rapidly-growing urban population. New, too, were the town houses of the developing professional classes and the grand estates of newly-wealthy entrepreneurs and landowners.

Plotting these effects one upon the other using our GIS (Geographic Information System) across the map of Cornwall and west Devon has allowed us to evaluate the total landscape impact of this period and to identify those areas where not only were these effects most marked, but where survival of what was once typical across most of the mining districts of Cornwall and west Devon is at its best. Time has, of course, taken its toll - two centuries on, some mines which were once bywords for fabulous wealth have returned to heathland within which a few fragmentary walls and overgrown spoil dumps alone hint at some different kind of history; some have been swallowed by urban development and survive only as road names; some of the rich copper ports, abandoned long ago, have become hidden under woodland; the tramways which were once the throbbing arteries of the transport system slowly narrowed into barely passable, often overgrown paths. Until a few years ago, mine buildings nearly two centuries old were routinely demolished for building stone.

But not everywhere. The engine house has long, and for good reason, been an icon of Cornwall and the region has long been famous for the spectacular and often unexpected conjunctions of nature and past industry - engine houses built to last no more than a few decades still punctuating the skyline, or clinging to precipitous cliffs; valleys so transformed by industry that seemingly every square metre is filled with fragments of walling, abandoned ponds and leats, chimneys, areas of unusual vegetation or none at all; clusters of exceptionally well-preserved industrial buildings marooned within what appears to be timeless rural landscapes. Yet the connections are there, if you know how to look for them - for Cornishmen were rarely only miners.

In some places the evidence for this wholesale transformation of the landscape has, for one reason or another (and the reasons are as varied as the landscape of Cornwall and west Devon) retained its essential integrity, and it is possible to visualise how these areas looked and functioned a century and more ago. Equally, there are historically important sites which, for a variety of reasons are isolated from these core areas, and yet which still retain their essential character. These, too, are crucial to our , as are the places where miners lived, worshipped and played, the institutions established by the new technologists where they met to exchange new ideas in engineering, science, politics and philosophy and the sites where the effects of industrial activity have created important ecological and mineralogical sites.

It is also important to acknowledge that the physical effects of Cornwall and west Devon's transformation of hard rock mining technology were not confined to Cornwall and west Devon. With the spread of technologies and the development of an increasingly mobile workforce, Cornish machinery, ideas and culture spread across the globe. Regional architectural styles were also exported world-wide, in many cases on arrival being adapted to indigenous local traditions and materials; in others they survived remarkably intact, as for instance in some of the Cornish mining colonies established in the New World.

 

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