Ore hearth smeltmill and wood drying kiln in Lumb Clough Wood, 350m south east of Bank Foot


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015819

Date first listed: 17-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Ore hearth smeltmill and wood drying kiln in Lumb Clough Wood, 350m south east of Bank Foot
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Sutton

National Grid Reference: SE 00835 42946


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.

Lumb Clough smeltmill is a good example of the small, simple ore hearth smeltmill typical of the 17th and early 18th centuries. The rare preservation of a complete layout survives with reservoir, wheelpit and tailrace in addition to the smeltmill itself with its remains of the hearth and settings for the bellows. The wood drying kiln, which also survivies in good condition is also a rare structure nationally. The smeltmill was excavated to floor level in 1973, but intact archaeological stratigraphy will survive, especially to the north and east of the mill building where stratified deposits of slag and fuel retaining important information about the development of smelting technology are believed to remain in situ.


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


The monument lies to the west of a confluence of two streams in the base of a narrow wooded valley. It includes the buried and standing remains of a small water-powered lead smeltmill, together with its associated reservoir and wheelpit. The site also includes the standing remains of a small wood drying kiln. Investigated and partly excavated to floor level by the Northern Mine Research Society in 1973, Lumb Clough smeltmill is an example of a simple ore hearth smeltmill. Water, taken directly from Lumb Clough Beck, filled a small, now silted reservoir originally 10m by 30m which is terraced into the valley side, to power an overshot or high breastshot waterwheel to the dam before returning to the beck via a culverted tailrace, which is also included in the scheduling. The smeltmill, measuring 5.5m north-south by 4.6m wide, is visible as wall footings and retains in situ settings for a pair of bellows (originally powered by the waterwheel) just to the south of the stone foundations of the ore hearth. The hearth is flanked by a pair of 0.9m high gritstone `keeper stones'. The 1973 excavation of the wheelpit, which lies on the east side of the smeltmill, showed it to be 6.7m by 0.45m by 2.1m deep with a stone flagged floor, with a partly collapsed tailrace chamber at its north end. It has since been partly infilled, although the low arched (0.3m) end of the tailrace culvert c.20m to the north of the smeltmill remains visible and is still issuing water. Approximately 15m north east of the ore hearth a well preserved drystone structure is built into the bank of a former steam course. Key-hole shaped in plan, it measures 1.4m in diameter and 1.8m deep, tapering towards the base. This is believed to be the remains of a wood drying kiln used to dry wood to produce `white coal' which was often mixed with peat and coal, and used as fuel in ore hearths. The surrounding area retains small quantities of scattered slag; both vitreous (black) slag and grey slag are visible. This material, typical for smeltmill sites, retains important technological information, and is included in the scheduling.

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: 29001

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dickinson, J, Gill, M, Martell, H, 'Memoirs of the Northern Mines Research Society' in Lumb Clough Lead Smelting Mill, Sutton-in-Craven, Yorkshire, , Vol. 1, (1975), 1-10
Gill, M, 'British Mining' in Lumb Clough Level and Smelt Mill, , Vol. 33, (1987), 29-36

End of official listing