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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

The Burning of Vellan-Dreath. Page 215.

It is said that in Queen Elizabeth's reign the Spaniards did much mischief by pillaging defenceless places on the western shores. About the time they burnt Moushal, an old miller and his son, a stout man, were the only dwellers in Vellan-Dreath. Early one morning, the miller, on returning from the mill-pool, which was far up on the hill, whither he had been to lift the flushet, noticed a boat with several men put off from a ship, and he watched them till they landed just beneath his mill. Suspecting they were bent on mischief he went in and barricaded his door; unfortunately the miller had no lead, but he put the muzzle of his musket through the latch-hole, which was probably larger than required to admit a finger to lift the latch. Meanwhile his son watched the invaders approach from a gable-end loop-hole which served as a window in the mill-bed.

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The water had not yet been turned on to the wheel; some of the "Spaniars," on coming round near the door, seeing the miller's gun pointed at them as they came within range, turned; tried to climb the mill-wheel and effect an entrance through the low thatched roof. The old miller, who spied them through crevices between the board of his door, guessing their intentions, called to his son to turn the water on; the launder flushet was raised in an instant, and the wheel revolved; one Spaniard was drowned in the pul-rose (wheel-pit) and another killed in the opening where the axle-tree worked.

The millers seeing more invaders coming up the cliff, set fire to a furse-rick near their door and each one taking on his back a sack of flour, made good their retreat through the smoke, without being perceived by the Spaniards till they were far up the hill. The sacks of flour protected them pretty well from stray shots, but the old miller, being hit in his knee with a bullet had to drop his sack. They reached Escolls, however, without farther harm, and the young man, on throwing down his sack of flour, declared that it was pounds heavier, from the lead lodged in it, than when he took it up. The Spaniards found little in the mill of any value to them; but they set fire to it, and it was never rebuilt.

The site of Vellan-Dreath can scarcely be traced on account of the blown sand having covered it over, and filled in the hollow in the cliff where it stood. Many years ago one of the millstones was found and taken to a smith's shop, in Mayon, or Treeve, where it served to bind cart wheels on; it remained near the smithy door but a few years since, and it may be there still, or not far from the spot. It is worth preserving, many would come from far to see a mill-stone of Queen Elizabeth's time.

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