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The Herodsfoot Story

The Village, Mining and Gunpowder

Herodsfoot is recorded as one of the oldest sites for mining in SE Cornwall. Long before the real hey-day of the silver / lead mines and the opening of the gunpowder works in about 1844 there had been adit mining here - mining by horizontal tunneling into the hillside. 

Because of its long mining history, Herodsfoot is recorded on early maps, its original name being "Hir Garth" [Cornish] meaning the "long hill". This gradually evolved to Heriard [C. 1500] and hence Herodsfoot - the foot of the long hill.

Easter Sunday C 1910The same view today

Easter Sunday c1910                            The same view today 

Herodsfoot Circa 1900Herodsfoot 2000 - little changed

Herodsfoot c1900                                Herodsfoot 2000 - little changed


Although there was mining in Herodsfoot for centuries, the heyday was in the period 1844 - 1884 when considerable quantities of lead and silver were mined. There are still the remains of mine chimneys, engine houses and mine workings from the four mines that were active in the vicinity of the village.


View of village and mine from All Saints C 1910The mine stack today - still just visible

View of village and mine from All Saints c1910                        The mine stack today - still just visible

 The Herodsfoot mines are renowned world wide for examples of two minerals, *bournonite and *tetrahedrite. Prime examples of these were sold by Richard Talling, a mineralogist from Lostwithiel, during the latter part of the 1800s. He was so diligent in his search for the minerals that he was banned from collecting but got round this by buying shares in the mines.


Cabin on mill foundations with water wheel  Powder Mill Pond

Cabin on mill foundations with water wheel                     The  powder mill pond at Deerpark

Gunpowder was manufactured at the Herodsfoot Powder Mill, up the valley to the west of the village, and the site was used by the explosives industry until the mid 1960s when the land and buildings were taken over by the Forestry Commission and used for holiday cabins. Some of the original buildings of the Powder Mill remain as do the lakes which supplied the water to power the machinery of the mill.

*bournonite - a mineral, PbCuSbS3, consisting of a sulphide of lead, copper, and antimony and occurring as wheel-shaped grains. [Count J L de Bournon Ü1825 Fr mineralogist] See a specimen here: Australian Museum Online - Albert Chapman Mineral Collection  and here: Mineralogical Society  

tetrahedrite - a grey mineral, (Cu,Fe)12Sb4S13, that chiefly consists of a sulphide of copper, iron, and antimony, often contains other chemical elements (e.g. silver), occurs in tetrahedral crystals and also in massive form, and is often a valuable source of silver. [Ger tetraŽdrit, fr LGk tetraedros having four faces]. See a specimen here: Natural History Museum - popular reference books


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