A partnership between the Woodland Trust and the National Trust

The Miller’s Tale: Excavating Fingle Mill

It’s hard to imagine, when you walk alongside the tranquil River Teign, that this was once a hive of industry. Just downstream from Fingle Bridge lie the ruins of Fingle Mill, variously a corn mill, fulling (cloth) mill and iron smelting mill. Instead of today’s birdsong and scent of the woods you would have heard the clanging of machinery and smelt the aroma of urine.

Although the mill was gutted by fire over a century ago remains can still be seen in the landscape, more so since large amounts of vegetation were cleared by Fingle volunteers alongside ACE Archaeology Society and students from the Prince’s Trust in February this year.

Today the remains of the two mills can be seen, along with the leat that would have powered the water wheel, a large iron slag deposit and fragments of the former water wheels and associated machinery. The Fingle Woods project is now taking this work a stage further. Excitingly, we will be doing a two week dig of the site between Monday 16th of July and Saturday 28th of July. The plan is to excavate two of the rooms within the mill (down to the most recent floor level) and a section of the adjacent mill leat.

The leat and mill side wall – the gaps left by the wheel shafts are still visible

The mills main working room and the location of our main trench

Hopefully this will enable us to learn more about the nature of the mill, its function, layout and use over time. This will allow us in turn to interpret the site for visitors and provide an insight into the lives of those who lived and worked here.

We are looking for volunteers to assist with the excavation. There are three different roles: Excavation Volunteers to work alongside the Archaeologists; Finds Processing Volunteers to assist with the recording and processing of finds; and Welfare Volunteers to support the rest of the team and provide an interface with the public. If you are interested in volunteering, more information can be found at https://myvolunteering.nationaltrust.org.uk/opportunity-search or please email finglewoods@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

There will also be a public open day on Saturday the 28th of July where you can go on a tour of the site, find out what we’ve found and have a go yourself. Do join us anytime between 11am and 3.30pm to see what we’ve unearthed.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.