Devon’s Non-Metal Mines: Discovering Devon’s Slate, Culm, Whetstone, Beer Stone, Ball Clay and Lignite Mines

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In this superbly illustrated book, the reader is taken on a gentle journey through Devon to discover the fascinating non-metal mines of the county. They include the Penn Recca slate mine near Buckfastleigh in south Devon, the culm mines of north Devon, the whetstone mines of the Blackdown Hills in east Devon, the Beer Stone mines, also in east Devon, the ball clay mines of south and
north Devon, and the lignite (brown coal) mines of Bovey Tracey, south Devon. The book explores the mines and their history, the methods used by the miners, and something about the miners and their lives. The journey spans 2,000 years, from the time when the Romans tunnelled into the hills near Beer for Beer Stone, to when the last ball clay mine closed in 1999. These 2,000 years of mining
history, although long by human standards, seem insignificant when the time span represented by the deposits that were being mined is considered. The formations exploited range in age from the slates of Penn Recca, around 360 million years old, to the 30 million year old lignites of Bovey Tracey. The reader is taken on a parallel journey into deep geological time to discover how these rocks came
into being, and what the world was like when they formed many millions of years ago.

By Richard A. Edwards (19 Oct 2011)