Newsletter January 2015

Welcome to the first update of the New Year. What a Christmas we have had, plenty to write and think about, some old theories thrown into the waste basket, some new theories holding fast and some are still just puzzles at the moment. It was great to be out as a team for the first time, scratching away in the dirt, cleaning off old granite walls and stones or just holding tape and compass...ah yes and the odd chance discovery of a deep wet leat, an instant cure for any stomach problems as you descend through the ground...but then it is always followed by a whoop of delight!? We have been unearthing Lanyon's past with, what started out as a concentration on the corn mill, extending into several dwellings, an unmapped ruin of very early origin and of course the stamps at the head of the valley. At this point I would like to thank a Mr Horton Bolitho for providing us with positive written proof of a corn mill existing at Lanyon in the 17th century, as finding a positive source has proved impossible up to now.

My greatest delight was to find one of the granite water wheel supports still in situ at Lanyon Stamps, followed by the discovery of its partner, which had slipped from its setting and turned turtle. Not for long though, as with the usual ropes, winches and trolley jack it is now set back in place. This now confirms a twenty foot water wheel drove these stamps and I have to say the workmanship is beautiful. As well as the wheel pit being worked on we also discovered what I believe to be a square buddle which would have laid just to the side of the stamps, then later we found several old broken stamps stones. 

Interestingly the depressions made on the main stamps stones differ in size and depth to another stone we found near the corn mill. This stone had three depressions, one of which was broken, but they are about 12cms deep and about 25cms across, where as the majority of the stones at the upper site are almost half that size. On the back of this larger stone we also found an ingot mould, but as you can see, not the usual rectangle or square. We do know there were two stamps operating this one valley at the same time from the late 17th century and into the 18th and 19th centurys.

We’ ve discovered old clapper bridges and leats and mill pools not marked on the tithe map of 1840, we have some more pieces of pottery to go off to Truro for dating, in fact it is easier to say that this is a project of some size that will take time to complete correctly but we shall keep you informed of our findings as we progress.

In the meantime we have been busy with other bits and pieces, including the ongoing transcription of the Veale diaries, we are now up to 1786. Some facts gleaned concern the completion of Ponsandane Bridge, which cost £58 to build, William Veale also mentions visiting Rogers pleasure house, which is Rogers tower seen on the skyline of Castle-n –Dinas. We are building up a decent picture of the mining around Mulfra Hill and Carnagwidden and the men involved. 

I have briefly looked at the shallow  underground workings near Madron Carne and will film it and look harder at a later time but it is interesting, possibly a string of tin which broke the surface beneath what appears to be a one time source of granite, possibly for the large houses that were built in this area. 

Anyway, here’s to a great year and please feel free to contact us about anything concerning the history of these wonderful places around Gulval and Madron.