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My interest in Dartmoor's Tinners' Huts was sparked by a stranger. Out walking one drizzly day I stopped for lunch by the cairn near Statts House and there met a man. In chatting, like fellow ramblers do, he points away to the distant shadows of Tavy Hole and describes mysterious tinners' houses. Later, intrigued, I delved into Jeremy Butler's series of books, "Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities" and one by one proceeded to locate them.

As there were no photographs and few OS grid refs. I decided to rectify this - using a GPS device and camera. The similarities and differences in the huts felt problematic, and caused me to visit more and then more.

On the Internet I found some useful databases and searching these I found more huts. Also I landed on the early DTRG website and sent Tony Jewell, its webmaster, an email....

Having now visited over 250 of these ruins I feel they can be grouped into three types which I've labelled: "ruin", "typical", "varied". The placing into the groups is "fuzzy" because some are different.

My criterion are as follows:

I've excluded other types of 'hut': Peat cutters', Sheppards', look-outs, etc. and the structures associated with mines, beam-works and open-works.

Both north and south Dartmoor have examples of all groups. There are very few historic document references. Notable ones are two excavations (Watern Oak and Grey Marsh, Postbridge), Garth's the Tinner and his hut and Cholake, Princetown. None are like those in group "typical".

Puzzling facts are these:


Transactions of the Devonshire Association: 8th & 11th reports of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee 1902 & 1906.

Jeremy. Butler "Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities" Vols. 1-4.

Bill Ratcliffe's DTRG Cholake Tinners' Hut record sheet

Archaeology Data Service

Research, GIS, photos and text by Murray Oates