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Mendip's mining heritage

notes and images of Mendip's mining industry (the image above shows millstones that can be seen at Winford Redding Pits)

Winford Redding Pits

field notes Posted on Thu, August 27, 2015 08:24:11

Winford Ochre Mine, the largest of the accessible mines where a rich variety of ochre colours can be seen in the adit walls and roof. There are also numerous pick marks and shot holes and we found a group of possible miners marks and, of course, more recent graffiti.
Alan Gray, Axbridge Caving Group (ACG) created this Google overlay of Winford Ochre Mine after our visit to the Redding Pits on 22nd August 2015. The Winford Redding Pits occupy the wooded area in the centre of the image and to the south west of the lane running c.SE<>NW.

The entrances to Winford No.2 and Winford No.3, two smaller mines accessible at the site. The surveys are by Alan Gray (ACG).

30th April 2015

field notes Posted on Thu, April 30, 2015 08:18:34

Condensation flues at St. Cuthbert’s Leadworks.

Velvet Bottom

field notes Posted on Sun, February 22, 2015 15:06:42

22/02/2015: ginged mineshaft c.2m deep in Velvet Bottom, Mendip Hills, includes dumped tyres.

Smitham Chimney

field notes Posted on Wed, January 21, 2015 21:19:27

Reflections in the pool at Smitham Chimney, Harptree Wood, Mendip – the last of its kind still standing.

Compton Martin Ochre Mine

field notes Posted on Wed, January 21, 2015 21:18:08

Compton Martin Ochre Mine, Mendip Hills, Somerset.

Smitham Chimney

field notes Posted on Sun, January 26, 2014 16:16:36

25th January 2014

Smitham Chimney, Harptree Woods. NGR ST 554 546

Mid 19th century Cornish-style chimney, restoration work carried out in the 1970’s. The last of its kind on Mendip, a remnant of an industrial past. Constructed when the slag heaps from previous mining exploits were re-smelted for lead. There were three main smelt works on Mendip this one at East Harptree and others at St. Cuthberts, Priddy and at Charterhouse.

St. Cuthberts Lead Works

field notes Posted on Thu, January 02, 2014 13:34:08

2nd January 2014

St. Cuthberts Lead Works, Priddy, Mendip

During a walk with the dog detoured to visit the St. Cuthberts Lead Works and ventured underground for a tour of the flues. The flues are stone built with lime mortar and vary in height from walking to stooping. Mainly parallel to each other and there are a number of interconnections between the flues and access to the surface is possible at several locations with variable ease [or difficulty].

The two images above and below were taken on 19th January 2014.

Harptree mines surveys

field notes Posted on Wed, December 26, 2012 09:39:05

Surveys of some of the mines found in the Harptree area.

The mines above are located in a small quarry opposite Eastwood Manor. There is an active badger sett close by and badgers are known to use the larger mine particularly the southern most passages.

Another mine located in Harptree Combe, this one is towards the top of the combe. The description above was written for the Belfry Bulletin in 2005 but was one of a number of articles that remained unpublished. It was not included in the Mendip Cave Registry Archive (MCRA) at the time either, although it had been submitted.

The entrance to the mine described above as photographed in December 2012. There are a number of features in the area around the mine that suggest there was some small scale mining activity although there has been some considerable disturbance of the ground from badgers.

Harptree Combe and mines

field notes Posted on Wed, December 26, 2012 09:17:55

An excursion into Harptree Combe and mines.

Start in the village of West Harptree. Take the footpath (5614/5684), next to the local shop, in a south-easterly direction to the combe. Follow the path through the combe, taking note of some very good outcrops of dolomitic conglomerate, until reaching the aqueduct beyond which is an obvious fork. Take the left-hand path (towards Proud Cross) follow for approx. 200m where Mine No.1 is located in the right-bank approx. 20m from the path at the base of a large beech tree.

Mine No.1 (5619/5566)

A short mine of approx. 11m (4.5m of which is open gully). It is 1m wide and up to 1.6m high. There is a vein of dog-toothed spar, which has been blackened, and some small geodes of calcite.

On the way up to the mine a series of sinkholes are passed these are most probably linked to the line of works that run down this valley. There is a gated conduit that flows into the main combe where the two meet near to the aqueduct.

Back at the fork follow the path up-valley for approx. 200m where Mine No.2 is located, in the right-hand bank approx. 10m above the combe floor.

Mine No.2 (5603/5576) Twin Passage Mine

Two parallel passages approx. 7m in length 0.75m wide and up to 1.75m high. At the end both passages are joined. The most southerly passage has a pool of water and ends in boulders.

To the south and above the mine is an open rift approx. 20m in length.

Directly opposite Mine No.2, in the left-hand bank, are Mines No’s.3, 4 and 5.

Mine No.3 (5606/5574) Rift Mine

This is the largest of the mines and is approx.30m in length although the first 10m is an open gully where the earthen roof has collapsed. The single passage is 0.75m wide and up to 6m high. The roof through most the mine consists mainly of earth. It ends at a large chamber with obvious workings and along its length shot-holes are visible.

Mine No.4

10m south of No.3 another rift mine approx. 11m in length (5m of open gully) with a solid roof.

Mine No.5

10m south of No.4. Single passage approx. 13m in length 1m wide and up to 2m high.

Mine No.6 (5603/5568)

70m south of No.5 and 25m up left-hand bank. Follow steep gully upwards, the mine is just below the top. It is 5m long, up to 1.5m and 0.75m in width. The roof is entirely made up of earth and numerous roots.

Between Mines No’s 5 and 6 a footpath up the right-hand bank (west) leads across fields to a track. Follow the track to where it meets Ridge Lane turning right into the lane (downhill) will take you back to West Harptree.

Alternatively you may wish to explore the rest of the combe or take the path to the left (east) of the mines and look around the site of Richmont Castle before heading back. The Castle has some interesting sites that look to have been worked at some time. It is possible that some of these excavations could date back to the mid-1500’s when calamine was used in the brass industry, a valuable commodity being used for arms in the war against Spain.


Haines – Nutt, R. Frank & Mulvey, Christopher.

1963. Not in Barrington- or Oldham. WCC (Jnl) 7(90)199-207(Jun)

Hendv, Philip G.

1967. Mines of East Harptree Combe. SVCC Newsheet (9) (3-4)

1968. Analysis of rock samples from mines in East Harptree Combe. SVCC Newssheet (2) (2) (Feb)

1971 Qualitative analysis of rock samples from E.H. Combe. SVCC NIL (9-11) (Dec 1970/Jan 1971). Map

Oldham, Anthony D.

1963 Mines of East Harptree Combe I Richmont. SVCC NIL 1(2) 3-4 (May)

1963 Mines of Harptree Combe, with a brief reference to Richmont Castle, the animal life in these mines and the geology of the combe. MNRC Jnl. 1(1)14-17(Jan)

Budd, Jon

East Harptree: Times Remembered Times Forgotten