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Historical Features

As the highest and most distinctive hill in the vicinity, Kit Hill may have had a religious significance in prehistoric times.  At least 18 burial mounds occur on its slopes including one beneath the summit chimney and traces of early field systems can be seen on aerial photographs.

Prehistoric people left their mark with a Neolithic long barrow (approx. 3000 BC) on the lower eastern slope and Bronze Age round barrows (2000-1500BC), forming part of a line of barrows along the Hingston Down.  In the 9th Century, the battle of Hingston Down was fought on the lower slopes, when combined forces of the Cornish and the Danes fell against the invading Saxons, bringing an end to Cornish independence.

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In the 18th Century, in commemoration of this ancient battle, Sir John Call of Whitford, near Stoke Climsland built a folly – a five sided enclosure intended to imitate a Saxon or Danish fort – on the summit. The remains of the folly can be seen as the boundaries to the grassed area around the summit.

Kit Hill is a small outcrop of the great South Western granite mass rising up between larger blocks.  Gases and solutions containing metallic elements found their way into cracks in the granite and slate and solidified and crystallised into various ores, notably tin, copper, wolfram (especially important in WW1) and arsenic.  These resources were exploited by miners from at least the medieval period to the 20th century.

It is Kit Hill's industrial past that has left the greatest mark. The ornate summit chimney stack of South Kit Hill Mine was built in 1858 and is one of the areas most famous landmarks with surface mining and quarrying remains among some of the finest in England.  'Veins' or 'loads' rich in ores of tin, copper tungsten and arsenic were exploited for many years and have helped shape Kit Hill and have created a fascinating legacy for the visitor to discover.

The search for minerals dates from at least Medieval times when 'shode' (stones containing tin ore) was either dug dry from small pits or separated through a flow of water in stream works. From the 15th and 16th Centuries the tin 'lodes' themselves were dug into from the surface by long narrow open works and closely spaced pits. By the 18th Century men were going underground in the shaft and adit mines, which are scattered all over the hill.

Mining continued up until the First World War when Wolfram (used in making steel) was extracted by cutting 'levels' into the eastern side of the Hill and ceased in 1955.  In more recent times, Kit Hill was an important strategic point above the natural boundary of the Tamar river. The Hill is still used today – since 1929 the Old Cornwall Society has lit an annual Midsummer's Eve Bonfire at the summit.