Marrick ore hearth lead smeltmill
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015824.pdf
The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.
This copy shows the entry on 13-Nov-2019 at 17:40:31.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Yorkshire
- Richmondshire (District Authority)
- North Yorkshire
- Richmondshire (District Authority)
- National Park:
- YORKSHIRE DALES
- National Grid Reference:
- SE 07720 99485
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
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.
Marrick High and Low Mills are very well-preserved and retain the best surviving hearths known nationally. The monument has a long history and displays a sequence of construction which illustrates the developing technology of ore hearth smeltmills. Complete with the remains of associated features (dams, fuel and ore stores), the monument is a fine example of a smeltmill complex. The survivial of documentary information further enhances its importance.
The monument is situated on the south side of the road between Fremington and
Maske, 1.25km north of Marrick. It includes the well-preserved standing
remains of two lead ore hearth smeltmills and a pair of peat stores, together
with a series of earthwork dams and the buried remains of a third smeltmill.
The first smeltmill at Marrick was built by John Sayer in 1574-5. Built
near the site of the later Low Mill and shown on a map of 1592 as New
Mill, it is thought to have been the first in Swaledale, and one of the
earliest nationally. By 1660 a second mill (High Mill) was built 50m uphill
and to the west of the first. It is thought that Sayer's mill closed before
1705, but was not demolished as both mills are shown on the 1782 Marrick
Estate map. Low Mill was extensively rebuilt in the 1830s by Jaques & Co, and
renovated in 1862 by the Hurst Mining Company who installed a second-hand
c.6m diameter waterwheel. High Mill had been declared beyond repair in 1861
and was incorporated into the flue system from Low Mill. Smelting finally
ceased after the mines reverted to selling ore to independent smeltmills in
The monument includes the well preserved ruins of the 19th century Low
Mill which measures c.9m by 13m north-south. This building, mainly
standing to eaves height (the east gable being over 8m high), is divided
into two main cells with a bellows hall to the west, and the smelting hall,
which still retains a pair of intact furnace arches, to the east.
Attached to the north wall are the ruined remains of the slag hearth building
which measures c.5.5m by 7.5m, oriented at right angles to the main mill
building. This contains the remains of the slag hearth including some iron
fittings, which is thought to have been installed in the 1862 renovation.
Immediately to the south of the bellows chamber are the ruined remains
of the wheelpit which held the c.6m diameter waterwheel which powered
the bellows. Extending a further c.10m southwards are the remains of walls of
a set of three fuel stores with loading chutes to the west. Approximately 12m
to the west of the slag hearth building are a pair of stone built bingsteads
(storage bays for lead ore) with stone flagged floors. Stone footings of the
original 16th century smeltmill have also been identified lying underneath
the smeltmill complex.
The ruined remains of a double flue, c.3.5m wide, extends from the north
west corner of the smeltmill, from the rear of the three hearths, c.50m
westwards uphill to the High Mill. The upper portion of the flues are
uncapped, but well preserved and pass through the centre of the mill's east
wall. It is thought that the High Mill was converted into a condensing
chamber after it was declared unusable in 1861. Condensing chambers
were used to slow the passing of fumes from the smelting hearths to allow
lead vapours to precipitate out, allowing lead to be recovered for
resmelting. After the Low Mill ceased operating, the flues were blocked
with rough masonry where they pass through the east wall. It is thought
that this event marked the reuse of the smeltmill for agricultural purposes.
High Mill is believed to date to the 17th century. Like Low Mill it is also
well preserved with a pair of intact furnace arches. Measuring c.14m by 9m
north-south, it is divided into two main cells with a central chimney above
the twin furnaces with the western part of the building originally
containing the waterwheel and bellows. The chimney, which is square,
stands to c.11m, 5m above the central gable. Built in at least three stages,
the middle section of the chimney is constructed in brickwork.
To the south of the smeltmill flue, the rising land surface is revetted by a
substantial stone wall to form a pair of roughly level areas. Approximately
120m to the west of High Mill are the standing remains of a pair of peat
stores, in which peat was dried to fuel the smeltmills. The northern store
is well preserved and measures 40 by 5.6m, oriented ENE-WSW. It is
divided into eight bays by seven pairs of pillars set at 4.25m intervals. On
both the north and south sides, the four end and two centre bays are linked by
0.6m thick walls to leave only bays three and six open. The store is roofless
but the walls are complete to eaves level with the north pillars standing to
1.5m and the southern ones to 2.4m. A sheep dip has been let into the floor
next to the centre section of the north wall. The second store, which is c.10m
to the south, measures c.30m by 5m and retains gable ends standing to 3m and
4m, with the side walls standing to between 1.8m and 3m.
To the west of the peat stores is a series of three well-preserved dams which
stand up to 1.2m high. Two of these dams, which regulated the flow of
water to the waterwheels, have been identified on a 1782 map of the
All drystone field walls and modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling,
but the ground beneath these features is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Clough, R T, Lead Smelting Mills of the Yorkshire Dales and Northern Pennines, (1980), Indexed
Raistrick, A, Lead Industry of Wensleydale and Swaledale, Smelting Mills, (1975), 35-41
Gill, M C, 'British Mining' in Yorkshire Smelting Mills Part 1: The Northern Dales, , Vol. 45, (1992), 133-135
Tyson, L O, 'British Mining' in A History of the Manor and Lead Mines of Marrick, Swaledale, , Vol. 38, (1989)
Gill, M, (1996)
Included in scheduling documentation, Thubron, S, Marrick smelt mills, sketch plan of peat store, (1980)
Photographs submitted with report, Cranstone, D, MPP lead industry site assessments, (1989)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing