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The Combe Martin Silver Mine Research and Preservation Society

February 28, 2008

Flowa and MichelleWomen VolunteersVolunteers

Archaeology CMSMRPS
(A Community Archaeology Initiative)
Inclusive & Accessible

Training Week during National Archaeology WeekFlowa and MichelleFlowa and Michelle
12th to 20th July Inclusive

Silver/lead mining has been intermittently carried out in the village of Combe Martin, North Devon since before the 13th century. Combe Martin Miners have been active from 1989 at their Mine Tenement site engaged in the restoration of mine buildings, the excavation of the engine house, the chimney flues, Williams Pumping Shaft, and Harris’s Mine Shaft, all having been filled upon the discontinuation of mining in 1880’s.

The Combe Martin Silver Mine Research & Preservation Society was formed in 2001 to act as a support group to the Combe Martin Miners.

Archaeology CMSMRPS commenced in 2002 in order to assist with the professional excavation and recording of the archaeology of the site.

The Mine Tenement Archaeological Project is a ‘Community Archaeology Initiative’ which draws its support from the Combe Martin Miners and CMSMRPS. All those persons who assist at the site are from the North Devon area and offer their services as volunteers.

Excavations are carried out using a professional methodology according to a MAP2 Project Design, and volunteers are taught the skills and techniques of on-site excavation, recording and all the elements required to achieve the Project Design. Finds from the site are put on public view at the Combe Martin Museum and copies of reports are deposited at the Combe Martin Library and North Devon Library and Records Office in Barnstaple.

The site is covered by up to 3 meters of waste from successive mining, smelting and smithing operations. Early on the decision was made that the overbuden should be systematically hand trowelled/sieved, and that mechanical excavation would not be used. This decision has already reaped rewards through the discovery of many 19th century artefacts providing considerable extra knowledge about the miners of that period.

2008 is the 4th year of excavation. Winter documentary research has revealed evidence that the site commenced as a Hemp Mill & Hemp Pool in the 13th century, probably part of a monastic grange. In the 15/16th century the mill was converted for the fulling of cloth as a Fulling Mill and Mill Pond. In the late 18th and early 19th century the mill was converted again into an iron water wheel driven Mine Pumping Engine to pump water from the silver/lead mines. This initiative quickly failed and subsequently a Cornish steam engine was installed.

The excavation is a Community Archaeology Initiative carried out by volunteers who are taught the skills necessary for quality excavation and is Inclusive and Accessible to all. It must be stressed that whilst the highest standards of excavation and recording is carried out and is expected, the excavation is not academically run or research led. All volunteers and trainees have the freedom to participate fully within their individual capability.

The site is situated on the 250m contour level of this wonderful part of North Devon, with magnificent sea views, and placed above the beautiful Combe Martin valley.


This year we will be offering camping facilities for those who wish to be involved in the excavation and a small lawned and well sheltered camping site is available for use in what is an idyllic setting.

Why not combine learning with something quite special, and when not involved in excavation, explore the secret combes and sunken lanes which lead onto the moors and down to the sea. Enjoy the companionship of others.

The charge for using the camp site and participitation in a full range of excavation activities and tuition is £15.00 per day. So, a full 7 days at the site will cost you £105.00. This does not include food which you will have to provide and prepare for yourself. There is a well stocked shop just 15 minutes walk from the site.

Alternatively there is plenty of bed and breakfast and guest house accommodation in the village if you wish to make your own arrangements. However, you will have to book this early in the holiday season.

Age or disability is not a limitation as there are so many tasks which can be adapted to enable everyone to take part.

• finds processing techniques
• archaeological planning techniques
• excavation techniques
• the use of a trowel, mattock and shovel
• drawing sections and plans
• topographical surveying techniques
• geophysical surveying techniques –
• resistivity and ground radar
• creating a finds catalogue
• photographing sections and finds
• using a computer database
• flotation techniques

It is essential that persons wishing to participate book at least one month in advance of the commencement date and a 25% booking fee will be required.

In the first instance please contact the excavation director, Mr. T. Dunkerley by email who will be pleased to send you a booking form.



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