Middle Greenlaws Level lead mine and ore works


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Middle Greenlaws Level lead mine and ore works
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 88935 36974

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. Nucleated lead mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by lead mining. They consist of a range of features grouped around the adits and/or shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil tip, but more complex and (in general) later examples may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, housing, lodging shops and offices, powder houses for storing gunpowder, power transmission features such as wheel pits, dams and leats. The majority of nucleated lead mines also included ore works, where the mixture of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground was separated ('dressed') to form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller sizes (either by manual hammering or mechanical crushing); sorting of broken material by size; separation of gravel-sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water ('jigging'); and separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water ('buddling'). The field remains of ore works vary widely and include the remains of crushing devices, separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses. The majority of nucleated lead mines with ore works are of 18th to 20th century date, earlier mining being normally by rake or hush and including scattered ore dressing features (a 'hush' is a gully or ravine partly excavated by use of a controlled torrent of water to reveal or exploit a vein of mineral ore). Nucleated lead mines often illustrate the great advances in industrial technology associated with the period known as the Industrial Revolution and, sometimes, also inform an understanding of the great changes in social conditions which accompanied it. Because of the greatly increased scale of working associated with nucleated mining such features can be a major component of many upland landscapes. It is estimated that several thousand sites exist, the majority being small mines of limited importance, although the important early remains of many larger mines have often been greatly modified or destroyed by continued working or by modern reworking. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of the class, is considered to merit protection.

Middle Greenlaws Level retains important well preserved remains of a mid-19th century ore works, much of which is now sealed in situ, buried under mine spoil washed downstream during floods in 1995. The layout is effectively complete and includes some particularly well preserved standing structures including the wheelpit, Middle Level entrance with its tram rails, and the round-backed bouse teams. The washing areas are thought to retain deposits up to 2m in depth with in situ remains of features related to 19th century ore processing equipment. The tunnel under the spoil heap and the stone built enclosure thought to be a timber yard are nationally rare features which add to the importance of the site. The remains, including the tractor, dating to the unsuccessful trial in the early 1980s, are an important recent demonstration of how abandoned mine workings have often been reinvestigated throughout history.


The monument is situated within the slight valley containing Daddryshield Burn at the eastern end of Greenlaws Hush. It includes the ruined structures and buried remains of Greenlaws Middle Level ore works together with two intact level entrances and a truncated spoil heap under which a trackway passes via a stone arched tunnel. The monument also includes all deposits of mining and dressing wastes together with all timber and iron remains of tramways and ore processing equipment within the area of protection, even where these are no longer in situ. Also included in the scheduling is a mineshop (lodging house for miners which is also thought to have served as a small mine smithy) which is currently in agricultural use as a store. Greenlaws Hush to the west, and the other scattered level entrances and water management features which made up the wider Greenlaws Mine are not included in the scheduling. Greenlaws Middle Level was worked as part of Greenlaws Lead Mine which exploited two veins (Greenlaws East and West Veins) and was operated by the Beaumont Company from at least 1818. The West Vein was discovered first and was exploited via Greenlaws Hush and a series of shallow shafts. The East Vein (which was the richer vein of the pair) was discovered around 1850, and was the last major discovery made by the Beaumont Company. By 1860 Greenlaws Mine was making a sizeable contribution towards the output of Weardale lead, and it is believed that the Middle Level ore works was operational by this time. The mine was taken over by the Weardale Lead Company in 1884 which worked the mine until 1897 and then intermittently until 1907. Weardale Lead finally abandoned the mine in 1913, but there have been at least two subsequent but unsuccessful, trials of the workings: firstly at Quarry Level (NY 89413762), 0.7km to the north east of the monument in 1940 and then at Middle Level itself in the early 1980s. The monument includes two intact level portals, both of which are still open, lying at the western end of the area of protection. On the north side of Daddryshield Burn is a portal to a level driven westwards towards the West Vein. This is partly blocked with material washed down by the stream and is still issuing significant volumes of water. A second level portal survives c.20m to the south. This is the Middle Level that was driven southwards to the East Vein. Built as a horse level, it was large enough to admit pit ponies used to pull mine tubs on tramlines. A couple of short lengths of the tramline system still survives in situ at Greenlaws together with dumps of disused rails, all of which are included in the scheduling. This level was unsuccessfully tried in the early 1980s, and a tractor used to power an air compressor at that time, still lies at the level entrance connected to the level by a metal air-line. This tractor is also included within the scheduling. Immediately to the east of the tractor there are the low earthwork remains of a 15m by 4m building range that is divided into four cells. Extending eastwards from 5m east of this building range is a bank of nine round backed bouse teams (storage bays for unprocessed ore). These bays are well preserved and are typically 4m deep and 3m wide, with the walling standing to over 3m. The westernmost four of the bouse teams are buried in mine spoil thought to have originated from the last reworking of the level. Immediately to the south of the bouse teams and included within the scheduling, is a small stone quarry believed to have been the source of some of the building stone used at the ore works. To the north of the bouse teams there is a c.50m by 40m level area. This is the upper washing floor (manual powered ore processing area) which is partly covered by a small mine spoil heap and is now crossed by the burn. The burn originally passed under the washing floor via a large stone arched culvert, which was subsequently blocked during floods in autumn 1995. Subsequent stream erosion shows that there is at least 2m of archaeological stratigraphy containing both timber and ironwork remains of in situ features relating to the ore works. These features are believed to include a complex network of water channels, settings for ore processing machinery, settings for tanks and deposits of waste material which will all retain important technological information about the processes employed in the 19th century. The upper washing floor is bounded to the north by a second set of bouse teams. These are square backed and stand up to 4m high. The six bays typically measure 3.5m wide and 5m deep. The east (downstream) side of the washing floor is marked by a c.2m high revetment wall which incorporates a flight of steps down to a second washing floor. This second ore processing area is now covered in up to 2m of mine spoil washed downstream, but is also thought to retain important in situ remains sealed beneath the debris. On the south side of the area are the well preserved remains of a c.9m by 4m by 3m wheelpit complete with some in situ timbers and ironwork and an arched tailrace through the east wall. To the south are the foundations for an ore crusher which was powered by the waterwheel. A small two storey building with a stone slabbed roof lies c.40m to the north of the wheelpit. This is interpreted as a mineshop (lodging house for miners) but is thought to have also contained a small mine smithy. A second revetment, incorporating an opening for a culvert for the stream, lies c.9m east of the mineshop, downstream (east) from which are the low earthwork remains of other features partly buried in mine spoil. Leading northwards from the building is a trackway which, after c.20m, passes through a c.35m long tunnel underneath a spoil heap. This tunnel, together with most of the spoil heap (which has been truncated at its north east end), are also included in the scheduling. A rectangular stone built enclosure, with a 2m wide arched entrance in the centre of the north wall, lies above and just to the west of the upper washing floor. This c.16m by 6m enclosure, which is built with mortared stone walls standing to c.3m high, pierced with a number of short window slits, has been interpreted as a timber yard for the mine. The two abandoned Land Rovers, the two timber and corrugated iron huts, the small sheet metal constructed store (which are all close to the mineshop), stacks of stone roofing tiles, modern fencing and gates are excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath all 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.

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Books and journals
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 2, (1990), 196-197
Information provided by landowner, Pattinson, N, (1996)


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

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