12 Cornish Mining Facts

January 08th, 2024

Cornwall boasts a rich mining heritage, with many historic engine houses and crumbling mining structures still gracing the county’s impressive coastline. The now iconic landmarks hint at an industrious past when Cornish miners were celebrated as some of the best in the world.

With a history spanning from antiquity to the mining heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries, there is so much to learn – about the landscape, natural resources and communities that made many of the mines’ success possible.

1. Cornish mining can be traced to the bronze age

The Cornish landscape has provided plentiful mining resources for several thousand years. During what we now call the bronze age, copper and tin were among the most extracted metals as they were key in the production of bronze.

Fast forward to Roman-occupied Britain, and Cornish tin was being traded across the world with an emerging network of international trade.

2. Advances in gunpowder were key

In the 17th century, advancements in the use of gunpowder to blast through rock meant Cornish miners could keep up with rising demands for copper. This new, effective method for deepening mines and breaking through granite was key in developing the burgeoning success of copper mining in the early 18th century.

A view of an old Cornish mines from the cliffs

3. South Crofty was the last tin mine in the UK to close

South Crofty is one of Cornwall’s most well-known mines, with the first documented production dating back to 1592. Since then, it has seen intermittent production until it closed in 1998 after several years of decreasing tin prices.

However, this closure wasn’t the end of the mine – after changing ownership several times, various projects have been planned for the site, and new mining rights have been obtained.

4. Cornish tin miners had specific rights

The Stannary Charter of 1201 gave tine miners the right to mine for tin on anyone’s land. This same charter (and subsequent amendments) meant tinners were only subject to certain laws and taxes. They could also only be arrested and judged by the so-called Lord Warden of the Stannaries.

Stannary Law continued to be used in some form into the late 19th century.

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5. Steam engines were introduced early

To get access to deeper reserves, better drainage systems were required. This led to the early introduction of steam engines in Cornish mines, which were used as early as the 1730s. The engine house is now an iconic symbol of Cornish mining and was a crucial part of keeping up with increased demand in the 18th century.

A ruin of a Cornish mine

6. There was an increase in arsenic mining in the 19th century

During the late 19th century, a few of Cornwall’s mines were producing more than half of the arsenic in the world.

Created as a by-product during the processing of copper and tin, the arsenic was used as an insecticide and an ingredient in paint. Due to the dangerous nature of arsenic, clay was used as a protective layer to cover the miners’ skin while at work.

Along with arsenic, copper and tin, some other metals were also historically mined, including silver and zinc.

7. Women were key players in the mining industry

While mining is often thought of as a male-dominated job, women and girls played their part in the mining process too. They may not have gone underground, but they were an essential part of the mining processes. Known as ‘Bal Maidens’, these women would help to separate the tin from any other mined substances.

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8. Dolcoath mine is the deepest in Cornwall

The largest and deepest mine in Cornwall, Dolcoath’s principal shaft reaches 3,300ft (1,000m) below the surface. Tragically, the mine is also known for a major accident in 1893, where seven men were killed in a collapse.

9. Many mines are known as ‘wheals’

You’ll often see the word ‘wheal’ prefixing the name of a Cornish mine. This term tends to mean a place of work/working (i.e. a mine). One of the most iconic is Wheal Coates – its remains sit magnificently on the cliff side along from St Agnes Head and Chapel Porth beach, allowing for some unbeatable views and photo opportunities.

The ruin of Wheal Coates mine engine house

10. Cornish mines have World Heritage status

In 2006, various mining sites across Cornwall became UNESCO World Heritage Sites, indicating their historical and cultural significance. This puts our beloved mines in good company, with other world-famous landmarks, such as Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China being awarded the same status.

The site consists of ten unique areas spanning from west Cornwall to west Devon.

11. Cornwall has turned its sights to lithium mining

While tin and copper may no longer be the focus, there are some new mining opportunities for Cornwall. The coming years will see an uptick in lithium mining, which is a key component in the production of electric cars and other batteries. Projects like this follow in the footsteps of a proud heritage, reviving the long-standing Cornish industry.

12. You can visit lots of Cornish mines

While Cornwall’s mining heyday might be over, there are still plenty of ways to experience and appreciate this integral part of the county’s history. With museums, attractions and tours of the mines themselves, you can get up close with the past.

One popular tourist spot is Poldark Mine, which is the only complete underground tin mine open for public visits. Due to its connection to the popular TV drama of the same name, visitors come from near and far to learn more about Cornish mining.

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Our luxury holiday park in Cornwall is ideally situated with easy access to many of the leading mining attractions and spectacular historical sites. So, if you want to explore Cornwall’s mining heritage for yourself, why not make The Valley your base?

We’re also a stone’s throw away from several stunning beaches and other top tourist spots, so you can make the most of your Cornish adventure.

6 Cornish Ghost Stories

October 26th, 2020

Cornwall is one of the most atmospheric counties in the UK. With vast moors, mysterious rock formations and a rugged coastline renowned for shipwrecks, it is the perfect setting for tales of mystery and paranormal occurrences!


As we head into the colder months, what better way to spend an evening than cosying up in our Truro holiday cottages with a hot drink and some nail-biting tales to keep you entertained!


We reveal our top selection of ghost stories, from phantom ships to evils spirits! Which ones will you be sharing this autumn?


A surge of water

Lost Land of Lyonesse


Once the home of Tristan in the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Iseult, Lyonesse is now more famously recognised as a mythical lost land off the coast of Cornwall.


The legend of Lyonesse is of a land which once existed between the western coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It was submerged by water, with the only evidence of its previous existence the sound of its ringing church bells heard out at sea.


Only one man was thought to have survived a tragedy who, by a stroke of luck, was hunting. Upon hearing the noise of the massive surge of water, he rode away on his white horse in an easterly direction towards Land’s End.


As he ferociously escaped, his horse lost one shoe. The survivor’s family used the symbol of three horseshoes and a white horse as the family crest and was used by those who believed they were his descendants.


This ghostly tale has been enhanced over the years by fishermen, who claim to hear the eery ringing of church bells and discovery of old rubble in the water.


Perhaps the eeriest part of the story is that some believe that it really once existed and was hit by a tsunami.


The Ghost of Jan Tregeagle


One of Cornwall’s most feared ghosts is the spirit of Jan Tregeagle.


Once a Cornish magistrate and lawyer in the 17th Century, Jan Tregeagle was infamous for his evil and inhumane acts, including the murder of his wife.


Allegedly in alliance with the devil, he was believed to appear and testify at his court case after his death… spooky!


In the horror that he may not be able to be sent back to hell, he was ordered to do a series of laborious and mind-numbing tasks until judgement day. His first task was to withdraw all the water from Dozmary Pool using a limpet shell.


Eventually, after escaping his punishments, St Petroc was summoned to fasten him in chains where he was then taken to Helston.


A misty ocean

The Whooper of Sennen Cove


On a beautiful, clear day, a mist descended on Sennen Cove. Accompanying the fog came a mysterious whooping sound that carried over the sea. It was believed to warn those who heard it of oncoming storms.


One day, two fishermen chose to ignore the warning. Once they sailed into the sea, they were never seen again!


Ghostly Church Bells


At Land’s End lies a mysterious graveyard where the sound of bells has been heard chiming at midnight there. It is believed the bells come from the ghost of a sea captain, who is in denial that his ship has sunk.


The sailors who hear them are feared to meet an unfortunate end at sea —one sailor was lost at sea after reportedly hearing the bad omen.


A black cat in the grass

The Logan Stone


Are you familiar with the term logan stone? A logan stone is a large stone that is naturally balanced and rocks with the smallest force, such as the wind.


At Nancledra, a tale tells of a logan stone which only ever rocked at midnight.


It was rumoured to be the meeting place of witches, and those who wanted to convert would secretly visit the stone. They had to touch the rock nine times at midnight! Its powers were believed to cure children of rickets, but only if their parents were married!


An old boat in the misty sea

The Ghost Ship of Porthcurno


An old sailing ship was seen off the coast in Penzance. As it sailed across the sea, witnesses feared it would hit the rocks as it headed straight in their direction. However, the mysterious ship defied all odds and continued to sail over the land and eventually faded from eye’s view as it continued through Porthcurno.


We would love to share mystical Cornish ghosts stories all day, as there are so many intriguing tales home to the county! What are the ghostliest locations you have visited in Cornwall? Why not share your tales with us on our social media channels; we would love to hear about them!

5 Fascinating Facts About the Lizard Peninsula

October 19th, 2020


The Lizard Peninsula is the most southern part of the UK, standing out for its unique geology and rock formations. Its rugged, rocky coastline is believed to contain rock which dates to over 500 million years old!


What is the Lizard Peninsula?


Almost an island of its own, the Lizard Peninsula is an impressive rocky headland surrounded by ocean on three of its sides with the Helford River to the North.


Situated on the South West Coast Path, it is a popular spot for walkers who come to marvel at its beauty as they enjoy a spot of adventure during their Cornwall short breaks.


It’s beautiful landscape not only attracts the attention of visitors, but the unique area is a hot spot for scientists as well! We explore its incredible history and offerings with our top selection of fascinating facts!


Rocky Cornish coastline

The Origins of Its Name is Not What You Assume


Despite its mysterious title, the name ‘Lizard’ unfortunately doesn’t derive from mystical origins.


Neither does the name come from the Serpentine rock which the area is renowned for. The surface of Serpentine transforms into a snake and scaly like surface once polished.


The roots of its name are relatively ambivalent, but one proposal is that it comes from the Cornish term ‘Lys Ardh’ which means ‘high court’.


Another suggestion is that the name has connections to the Cornish word ‘lezou’ which is translated to ‘headland’.



The RNLI boathouse at Lizard

Image Credit: Visit Cornwall


Home to the UK’s Most Southerly Lighthouse


As the most southerly point in the UK, it comes as little surprise that it also boasts the UK’s most southerly lighthouse.


Previous to the lighthouse’s construction in 1752, the coast of the Lizard was a dangerous area for ships and was titled the ‘Graveyard of Ships’. The spot is now home to the Lizard Lifeboat Station.


Serpentine rock

CC by Laurel F


Mainland Britain’s Largest Outcrop of Serpentine


As mentioned, the Lizard Peninsula has been a point of interest for scientists and geologists.


It isn’t uncommon to see many university students visit the area as the rocks here are not found in nearby locations.


One distinct rock is Serpentine. The Lizard Peninsula is mainland Britain’s most significant outcrop of the rock. It’s striking appearance was reportedly favoured by Queen Victoria which heightened the industry in the 19th-century.


Best Preserved Exposed Ophiolite in the UK


Another area of geological interest at the Lizard Peninsula is the ophiolite.


The Lizard Peninsula is heralded as UK’s top spot to see the best-preserved source of exposed ophiolite.


An ophiolite is a unique form of rock formation which is produced from the Earth’s oceanic crust pushed onto the continental crust. It is often green in colour.


The parts of ophiolite include:

• The serpentinites
• The ‘oceanic complex’
• The metamorphic basement


An ophiolite can be found in the mountain belts of locations such as the Himalayas and the Alps, and amazingly you can also see it in Cornwall!


Coastline at the Lizard

Image Credit: Visit Cornwall


It’s an Area of Outstanding Beauty


The Lizard Peninsula has received many awards for its stunning landscape and is a heavily protected area. It is largely recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as well as providing eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest. These awards and sites are specifically bestowed to protect the geology and wildlife of the area.


The Lizard Peninsula is cared for and under the ownership of a variety of organisations including the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Natural England.


Off land, the surrounding ocean at the Manacles has been awarded as a Marine Conservation Zone which is rich in marine biodiversity.


The Lizard Peninsula is a stunning, natural and protected area, providing the ultimate location for wildlife to blossom. What are your favourite facts about the Lizard Peninsula? Which has not been covered in our blog? Why not share your thoughts on our social media channels; we would love to know!

Historic castles in Cornwall to visit when staying at our 5 star cottages

March 10th, 2016

Cornwall has a rich history in Britain, going back 3000 years, and has been recognised by UNESCO for some of its heritage sites across the county. There is also a great traditional culture too, which is great to explore and discover when staying at our 5 star cottages in Cornwall.

Check out any of these stunning castles during your stay:

Tintagel Castle – A day out for all the family, take a trip to Tintagel Castle set on the rugged coast of North Cornwall. Said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, you can also visit Merlin’s cave nearby and enjoy the dramatic views of this clifftop castle.

St Mawes Castle – One of the best preserved castles of Henry VIII time, St Mawes was part of a chain of forts along the south coast built between 1539 and 1545. This castle is worth visiting to also see its elaborate decoration.

Launceston Castle – This is an unusual keep located close to Bodmin Moor, dates back to the 13th century. Set on a large natural mound, the round tower was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall and the top can be reached via a dark internal staircase.

St Michael’s Mount – An iconic site in Cornwall, you can explore this amazing island and discover the history, myths and legends that surround this stunning place. You can stroll over the granite causeway where a legend says a giant once walked.

Pendennis Castle – For a great family day out, take a trip to Pendennis in Falmouth. Built by Henry VIII, it was also one of the last royalist strongholds to fall in the English Civil War. There is an exciting exhibition where you can experience the sights and sounds of a battle.

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Photo by: Tim Green