Glossary of mining terms common in documents in the Enys Archive

Adit level-A horizontal drift or tunnel through which the water is pumped or drawn from the bottom of the mine.

Adventurers – Those who have shares in mines.

Attle- Rubbish containing little or no ore.

Bal- a miners term for a mine.

Bargain-A miner’s contract to do certain work at a certain price.

Bounds- T

the limits of a given area for mining.  Anciently, set out by order of the Vice-Warden of the Stannaries when the landowners of waste land decline to grant a license for mining.

Core –miners usually work 6 hours at a time, and four ‘pares’ (a party of men) are required for the whole time.

Cost book-  Cornish mines were formerly all conducted on the unlimited principle.  The method is to enter in the ‘cost book’ the name and address of each of the adventurers who commence working the mine, all subsequent transfer of shares, and every expense attached to the undertaking.  A meeting is held every two months when the purser presents his accounts.

Dialler-  the person who makes the underground survey.

Dish-  that portion of the produce of a mine which is paid to the mineral owner; also called royalty or dues.

End-  the further extent of a level or cross-cut.

Floor or dressing floor- the place where the ore is separated from its matrix.

Grass-  the surface of the mine.

Holing-  when two drifts or levels meet.

Kibal-  a bucket usually made of iron in which the ore is drawn to the surface.

Lease-  the deed from the Lord authorising the works.

Lode- a regular vein producing or affording any kind of metallic ore.

Rowling- moving rough large stones.

Sett- a lease stating the boundaries and terms of the mining ground taken by the adventurers.

Shallow adit- a drift to drain the mine a few fathoms deep, that the lode may be tried before incurring the cost of a deep adit.

Spalling- the breaking up in small pieces.

Stem- a days work.

Tail of an adit- the place where the adit water leaves the adit at the portal; sometimes called the mouth of the adit.

Toller- a person who occasionally examines the workings on behalf of the lord.

Tributers- men whose pay is a certain proportion of the ores, or of the value of the ores they raise.

Tutwork- work in which the labourer earns in proportion to the amount of his labour.

Wheal- a corruption of the word ‘Huel’ which means a hele or mine pit.  A prefix for most mines.

See also FE Halliday, A History of Cornwall  (2001 ed.), pp274-284.

A Glossary of Mining Terms, ed. WG Orchard, (1991).

Ian and Shirley Clarke





Back to top of page