From Dorset we travelled to the most south west corner of Britain. You might know or have been to Land’s End, but there were far more interesting things to learn about this corner of the world.
Cornwall might be famous for its seaside and its cream teas, but its original claim to fame is its natural resources. Cornwall is a place rich in metals – tin and copper in particular – and even as far back as the Bronze Age (more than 2000BC), everyone in civilised Europe knew of it. In the Bronze Age, Tin from the Cornish was traded as far east as the Minoans in Crete, who consequently built their empire from it. The Cornish locals must have gotten very wealthy.
Back in those days, the tin and copper deposits were very close to the surface, and could be dug out from shallow pits, but as time went on, the miners had to dig deeper and deeper into the ground to get their bootie. By the time the Industrial Revolution came about, mining in the area was done on an epic scale.
This is the remains of the Levant Mine from the Victorian Age, near the village of Pendeen. It closed in the 1890’s and is now part of a World Heritage Site. Back in its heyday it employed around 170 people. You can see the remnants of buildings and stacks at the top of the cliff.
At the bottom of the cliff you can see the old pumphouse, which pumped the seawater out of the mine, since it was so close to the water line. The whole countryside is riddled with shafts, and shafts were dug as far out as a mile out under the sea. The shafts are still there, and one shouldn’t go underground unless you are with someone who knows them well since you can easily get lost. In recent years there have been incidents where people have died in shafts as they couldn’t find a way out.
The old mine is now on crown land, and the famous South West Coast Walk winds its way through it, so everyone can see what mining was all about.