North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Combe Martin Silver Mines

The silver mines of Combe Martin have played an influential role in the development of the village.

Silver mining takes centre stage as the most influential industry in Combe Martin’s history. There was a Royal silver mine in Combe Martin by 1292. Today, the valley slopes of Combe Martin still show evidence of silver and lead mining and smelting from the 13th to the 19th century – there is also evidence of mine spoil heaps in the village itself, whilst a ruined engine house still stands on Knap Down. The now disused silver mines are on the eastern ridge of the combe and evidence of tunnels can still be seen, as well as the remains of a pumping engine house used to pump water from the mine.

It is said that the 100 Year war (against France in the 14th and early 15th Century) was largely funded through Combe Martin silver and the Crown has always taken an interest in the industry. It is reputed that items in the crown jewels are made of Combe Martin silver.

In the reign of Edward I, miners were brought in from the Peak District and South Wales to work the mines. During the reign of Elizabath I, (probably coinciding with improved mining techniques) deeper mines were sunk, causing a rise in productivity again, but this activity soon ceased.  With technological advances and the ability to mine deeper, further mining activity occurred in the late 18th and 19th Centuries, the final mine closing in the 1880’s.