Lead mill on north bank of Bar Brook, 80m east of confluence with Sandyford Brook


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009705

Date first listed: 05-Sep-1996


Ordnance survey map of Lead mill on north bank of Bar Brook, 80m east of confluence with Sandyford Brook
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Curbar

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 27260 73869


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England, spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age (c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites, representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to develop until the late 19th century. They were the normal type of lead smelter until the 18th century, when they were partially replaced by the reverberatory smelt mill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth, in which lead ore was mixed with fuel (initially dried wood, later a mixture of peat and coal). An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a waterwheel; more sophisticated arrangements were used at some 19th century sites. The slags from the ore hearth still contained some lead. This was extracted by resmelting the slags at a higher temperature using charcoal or (later) coke fuel, normally in a separate slag hearth. This was typically within the ore hearth smelt mill, though separate slag mills are known. Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths, whereas late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often large complexes containing several ore and slag hearths, roasting furnaces for preparing the ore, refining furnaces for extracting silver from the lead by a process known as cupellation, and reducing furnaces for recovering lead from the residue or litharge produced by cupellation, together with sometimes complex systems of flues, condensers and chimneys for recovering lead from the fumes given off by the various hearths and furnaces. The ore hearth smelt mill site will also contain fuel stores and other ancillary buildings. Ore hearth smelt mills have existed in and near all the lead mining fields of England, though late 18th and 19th century examples were virtually confined to the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards (and surviving evidence is strongly concentrated in North Yorkshire). It is believed that several hundred examples existed nationally. The sample identified as meriting protection includes: all sites with surviving evidence of hearths; sites with intact slag tips of importance for understanding the development of smelting technology; all 16th- 17th century sites with appreciable standing structural remains; 16th-17th century sites with well preserved earthwork remains; and a more selective sample of 18th and 19th century sites to include the best surviving evidence for smelt mill structures, and flue/condenser/chimney systems.

The Bar Brook site is a good example of a small Derbyshire ore hearth smelt mill of early date. It survives well, and in addition to containing the full range of features commonly present on sites of this date and type, retains an unusually large amount of upstanding masonry. Both the monument and its environs are undisturbed by later developments. The site is also documented archaeologically by a detailed survey, and is of enhanced amenity value due to its location on National Park access land.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument lies in an area of wooded gritstone boulders, on the north bank of the Bar Brook. It consists of the remains of a 17th-18th century smelt mill. The core of the site consists of a ruined two cell building lying east- west with remains of a chimney in the west wall. The interior of this building is largely obscured by rubble. To the east of this lies a dam which has been breached but is largely intact. The east boundary is drawn to include the western parts of the access track and leat and a bridge where they cross each other, but excludes the eastern parts of both features, which are poorly preserved. To the north of the building, a hollow way leads to the north west, and a small building lies beside this. To the south of the building, fragments of associated walling extend to the Bar Brook. The mill was built in 1618, and closed around 1770. A gritstone mould for casting pigs of lead is recorded as having come from the ruins, but it is not now visible.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24978

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossley, D, Kiernan, D, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lead-Smelting Mills of Derbyshire, , Vol. Vol CXII, (1992), 14
Willies, L, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Barker family and the eighteenth-century lead business, , Vol. Vol 93, (1973), 55-74
1699Z /LP 31, Derbyshire Record Office, (1960)
Conversation, November 1993, Willies, L, (1993)

End of official listing