Rich in history and biodiversity, Deerpark forest in Cornwall is situated close to the Herodsfoot gunpowder mill near Liskeard. Herodsfoot is recorded as one of the oldest sites for mining in South-East Cornwall and long before the opening of the gunpowder works in about 1844 there had been mining here, achieved by horizontally tunnelling into the hillside. Herodsfoot or ‘Hir Garth’ in Cornish means ‘the long hill’ and thanks to its long mining history was recorded on early maps.
The area was at the peak of its mining powers from 1844–1884 when considerable quantities of lead and silver were mined. Even today you can still see the remains of mine chimneys, engine houses and mine workings from the four mines that were active in the vicinity of the village.
A familiar name to anyone living in this area is Richard Talling, a mineralogist during the latter part of the 1800s he sold large quantities of the two minerals that the Herodsfoot mines were renowned for: bournonite and tetrahedrite. In fact, he was so diligent in his search for the minerals that he was banned from collecting them. But, imaginatively, he found a way round this by buying shares in the mines.
The Herodsfoot Powder Mill was where gunpowder was produced, up the valley to the west of the village. The site was still used by the explosives industry until the mid-1960s when the land and buildings were taken over by the Forestry Commission.
Nearby is Liskeard with its placename ‘Lis’ to indicate that the settlement was once a high status court. After the Conquest, a Norman castle was built but this fell into disuse in the later Middle Ages and, by 1538, only a few insignificant remains were to be seen.
Liskeard has always been an important centre for agriculture but it also went through a period of economic prosperity during the pre-20th century boom in tin mining, becoming a key area in the industry as a location for stannary and coinage.