Cornwall Mining Heritage
Mining on the edge of earth
A stone’s throw from Land’s End, this is the most westerly Area of the Site. St Just is characterised by big skies, jagged rocks, stark moorland, and iconic clifftop engine houses perched above the Atlantic in some incredible locations. No wonder this dramatic setting has inspired generations of artists, writers and photographers.
World-famous for their mineralogy, the mining sites here are extremely well preserved – as is the sense of community amongst the people whose lives they once dominated.
This Area’s unique geography and mineralogy meant that undersea mining was more concentrated here than anywhere else in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The oldest surviving Cornish beam engine (constructed in 1840) remains in its original engine house at Levant, restored and still working under steam. Geevor, one of the last mines to close in Cornwall (1990), was saved from demolition and is now the largest metalliferous mine site open to the public in the UK.
The historic mining town of St Just is home to characteristic rows of granite mine workers’ cottages, public squares, shops, cafés, art galleries and, just off Bank Square, a medieval grassed amphitheatre – the Plen an Gwary or ‘playing place’.