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Conservation built heritage

Many of the reservoirs and catchments have significant built heritage remains and some of the sites such as Roadford Lake were excavated prior to construction and flooding.

Roadford Lake

Prior to the reservoir operations commencing at Roadford, a full five-year programme of archaeological investigation was undertaken. This was organised by Devon County Council and undertaken by Exeter Museum's archaeological field unit.

A number of different techniques were used including field surveys, documentary research, environmental surveys and sampling, recording of historic buildings, excavation and oral history.

Great discoveries were made during the investigations at Roadford and these findings will be described in our webpage 'The Wolf Valley' which is to follow shortly.


There is a concentration of historic features at the sites found within Dartmoor National Park, in particular at Burrator, Fernworthy and Venford.

Many of the sites have Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs); Burrator has 12 SAMs within the forested areas. These monuments include:

• A large stone hut circle settlement
• A round cairn west south west of Crazy Well Pool
• Keaglesborough Mine and Raddipit Farmstead
• Stanlake Farmstead
• Two stamping mills
• Middleworth Farmstead
• A tin mill

Besides the SAMs at Burrator there is a host of other historic features such as mine adits, hut circles, potato caves and leats. The Trust is currently working on a three-year project to attract funding to protect the built environment at Burrator for the future and to provide learning and volunteering opportunities in the historic environment. For further information on this project visit our Projects Page.

At Fernworthy Reservoir there are two SAMs - one which consists of several hut circles and the other is a cairn circle and cist on the northern bank.

At Venford Reservoir there is a Devon Longhouse at the southern end of the reservoir. At Venford there are also many SAMs within South West Water's landholding not managed by the Trust.

Lopwell Dam

Lopwell has a long history dating back to the 13th century. It was originally a river quay and it appears to have had a traditional fording point across the river.

There are remains of an old mineshaft (Wheal Maristow) in the woodland on the western side of the weir. Mining at Lopwell was for sliver and lead and in 1294 it is documented that 370lb of silver ore was sent to the King. Later, silver worth £4,046 and £360-worth of lead was sent.

Adjacent to the mineshaft is Lopwell Cottage or Ferryman's Cottage. Around 1918 the Vivian brothers lived here and ferried people across the river in a wooden rowing boat.

Also at Lopwell is a redundant pumphouse built in the early 1950s which the Trust plans to convert into a visitor centre with facilities for field study work. Further information is shown on our Projects page.

The built heritage at the reservoirs requires management to ensure its protection for future years. This ranges from providing appropriate public access to vegetation management.

The Trust works closely with various bodies, including Dartmoor National Park and English Heritage, and many other voluntary groups, to ensure appropriate management takes place; for example the Dartmoor Preservation Association has assisted with vegetation clearance from the Devon Longhouse at Venford.

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