Cornubian Batholith isn’t a term that rolls off the tongue very easily but it helps to explain the make-up of the South-West Peninsula away from the coast in a couple of words. For all of us non-geologists it refers to the granite outcrops that sporadically thrust their way up onto the Devon and Cornwall landscape – places like Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor, Hensbarrow Downs, Carnmenellis, Penwith, and the Isles of Scilly.
This granite terrain has been responsible for most of the minerals that have been mined in Devon and Cornwall for centuries, and there are two areas in particular that still bear the scars from this industrial heritage – Hensbarrow Downs and Carn Brea.
Hensbarrow Downs lie just to the north of St. Austell and has suffered from extensive china clay extraction, but as it’s closely connected to the town, I’m covering this part of Cornwall’s legacy on my St Austell pages.
Carn Brea hovers over the towns of Camborne and Redruth, and this is the area where tin mining has left its mark more than anywhere else. There are no picture postcard images of engine houses on cliff edges overlooking the sea here, instead there are rows of terraced houses that used to be home to miners and their families before they left to find work in other parts of the world. Is this area of Cornwall picturesque? No! Is it interesting? Yes! – most definitely.
The map opposite shows the area that roughly equates with what I’m referring to as Inland Cornwall, and some of it is more picturesque than you might think. Bodmin Moor for example also had tin mining, but there is a landscape here that is not unlike Dartmoor in some ways with legends and folklore of its own.
That said, I’m not going to paint a rosy picture of Inland Cornwall because this is the ‘poor canvas inside a lovely frame’ that I referred to in my Introduction to Cornwall. Some people find it hard to believe that this is the poorest county in England, and the reason is because this once beating heart of Cornwall stopped beating some time ago – even though that Cornubian Batholith is still here.
- Bodmin Moor