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World Heritage Site

Heartlands World Heritage Site

Heartlands sits within the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape that became a World Heritage Site on July 13th 2006.

This accolade means it's recognised as having cultural importance on a global level. If you think of Venice, the Statue of Liberty and Sydney Opera House, you get a sense of its standing.

More specifically, Heartlands is a World Heritage Gateway Site, acting to support and promote other significant WHS attractions in the Camborne and Redruth area such as East Pool and King Edward Mines as well as attractions further afield such as Geevor, Poldark and Wheal Martyn.

What is a World Heritage Site?

Recognised by UNESCO. World Heritage Sites are places of significance and value to the whole of humanity. This puts Cornish Mining on a par with international treasures such as the Pyramids, Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China.

Why is Cornish Mining a World Heritage Site?

Cornwall and west Devon’s mining landscape, shaped during a period of intense industrial activity, is testimony to one of the greatest periods of economic, technological and social development Britain has ever known.

From 1700 to 1914, the metal mining industry played a vital role in transforming our way of life. It provided essential raw materials to feed the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and pioneered technological developments that helped shape the society we live in today. For example, Richard Trevithick’s advances in steam engine technology – originally motivated by the need to pump water out of mines – ultimately enabled the development of steam trains, changing the world forever through the mass movement of people and goods.

This and other new engineering solutions and inventions developed here were exported to mining regions across the world – including Australia, the Americas and South Africa – playing a key role in the growth of an international capitalist economy. There are at least 175 places, across six continents, where Cornish mine workers took their skills, technology and traditions. This is a truly global heritage to be supremely proud of.

What Metallic Minerals Were Mined Here?

A number of metals were mined in the region, but the ‘big three’ were copper, tin and arsenic. Find out more on the Earth Treasures page in the Delving Deeper section of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site website.

What Happened to Cornish Mining?

Increasing competition through the expanding global mining industry reduced metal prices significantly during the latter half of the 19th century, forcing many local producers to close. Consequently, huge numbers of mine workers migrated to mines elsewhere in Britain and overseas; Cornwall alone is thought to have lost between 250,000 to 500,000 people from around 1815 to 1915, the period defined as ‘the Great Migration’. Today, there are an estimated six million people worldwide descended from migrant Cornish mine workers.

What Is There to See Within the Site?

Ten separate Areas make up the World Heritage Site. Each has its own character, opportunities for adventure, and a different combination of the features that make up the Cornish Mining landscape.

The Site contains over 200 iconic Cornish engine houses (the largest concentration of such monuments anywhere in the world). But Cornish Mining is deeper (if you pardon the double meaning) than just mine sites. The mining industry impacted on all aspects of life. Many of our towns and villages were either transformed by a growing industrial population or built from scratch to house them. They reveal their history in the rows of distinctive terraced cottages, shops, chapels and substantial public buildings. Today you’ll find plenty of great cafés, pubs, restaurants, art galleries and museums, plus if you’re lucky, a number of events and activities that happen on certain days of the year.

The remains of the transport networks that were developed to serve the mines during the early 19th century – the railways, mineral tramways, canals, ports and quays – can now be explored by foot, bicycle or boat, making for invigorating and fascinating days out. And within the site several of Cornwall’s great houses and gardens – paid for with the profits of the mining industry – now open their doors to visitors.

Experience our Interactive World Heritage Site Cornwall Map within the Visitor Centre at Heartlands.

More information on the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape can be found here.

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