Brandon Walls lead mine and ore works


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


Ordnance survey map of Brandon Walls 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 94648 41095

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.

Unlike coal mines, which had regular supplies of cheap fuel, lead mines avoided using steam power wherever possible, relying instead on waterwheels and hydraulic engines for pumping. Brandon Walls Mine retains a well preserved example of a typical 19th century water powered pumping arangement. In addition, the earthworks to the south of the wheelpit are believed to retain rare waterlogged remains of manually operated ore processing equipment. Together with the adjacent domestic buildings, the site is a good example of a small mid-19th century lead mine. The site is crossed by the Weardale Way, a major public footpath, and forms an important educational resource and public amenity.


The monument is situated on the east bank of Rookhope Burn, 2km north of Eastgate. It includes the ruined structures of a lead mine with a small associated ore works and a terrace of miners' cottages. Features include the standing remains of a large wheelpit, with a shaft and settings for pumping machinery; the buried and earthwork remains of an ore processing area; and the standing ruins of a mine smithy. All deposits of mining and dressing wastes are included in the scheduling. Brandon Walls Mine is set within the wider, more extensive industrial landscape of Rookhope valley: uphill and 40m to the east there is a well preserved bank of lime kilns associated with a small lime and ironstone quarry, served by a mineral railway. Remains of further lead, iron and other non-ferrous mines and smeltmills, extending up the valley to the north west, lie outside the area of protection. Brandon Walls Mine forms one of the well preserved core areas of this landscape. Operational by 1850, the mine was initially profitable because the lead ore contained on average 6oz of silver per ton of lead. The mine was worked by the Brandon Lead Mining Company from 1862 until its failure in 1872 when it was taken over by the Rookhope Valley Mining Co. which worked it in conjunction with Thorney Brow and Stotfield Burn Mines, 0.5km and 1.5km respectively to the north. Brandon Lead Mines Company never made a profit and sold the mine shaft before its closure in 1882. Brandon Walls is not thought to have worked again and was finally abandoned c.1903. The wheelpit, measuring c.13m by 3m, is nearly complete, apart from the tumbled south western end, and retains some timbering and iron work. It originally held a c.13m diameter overshot waterwheel which powered a set of pumps in the c.110m deep shaft, c.5m to the north east. Water was fed to the wheel from Rookhope Burn by a leat which can be identified c.30m to the east and traced northwards for approximately 0.7km. The shaft is stone lined and c.2.5m in diameter. It is uncapped and linked to a 5m by 5m chamber at the north east end of the wheelpit. This chamber is formed by revetment walls to the rising ground surface. Both the shaft and chamber are filled with water to within 4m of the top of the revetment, obscuring anything below. Running south west from the shaft, perpendicular to the line of the wheelpit, there is a c.17m long, 0.7m wide trench that is partly covered. This ends at a 1.5m diameter rubble filled, stone lined pit. This is thought to be a trench for a rodway which connected the pump rods in the shaft to a balance bob in the pit (balance bobs were weights used to balance the weight of the pump rods, and thus improve the pumps' efficiency). Approximately 4m beyond the shaft, in line with the wheelpit, is another rubble filled pit. This measures 2m by 3m and retains an iron bolt. Two metres to the south west there are a further four iron bolts protruding from the ground arranged in a 1m square. These are thought to be the settings for winch gear serving the shaft. A structure measuring c.3m by 5.5m formed by three equally spaced parallel walls, 0.5m wide and up to 2.5m high, lies 3m south west of the balance bob pit. The space between these walls, which are parallel to the line of the wheelpit, is filled with earth and rubble forming a rounded earthwork up to 1.3m high. This structure, and the balance bob pit, are built on a low spoil mound that extends westwards from the shaft to the bank of Rookhope Burn and forms a low finger tip that extends c.50m downstream (southwards). The south eastern side of this spoil heap is revetted by a curving wall that starts at the north west corner of the wheelpit, where it is 1.5m high, and reduces in height to reach ground level c.25m to the south west. A level area approximately 8m by 12m between the wheelpit and the spoil heap, in front of the revetment, provides access into the south west corner of the water filled chamber. To the south of the wheelpit there are a number of shallow hollows, typically 0.1m deep, which are believed to be the remains of manual ore processing equipment. Approximately 20m to the south of the wheelpit are the standing remains of a 8.5m by 5m, two storey, twin celled building with small out houses to north and south. The main, northern room contains a large 1m by 2.5m hearth, and is interpreted as a mine smithy. The building survives to a maximum height of 3m and is partly terraced into the hillside. Behind the smithy, a steep track runs uphill to a short terrace of three, two storey miners' cottages which survive as ruins, partly to eaves level. To the rear of the southernmost cottage (c.5m to the east), there is a 2.5m diameter circular stone built structure standing to 0.5m. All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath 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:
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Books and journals
Burt, R , The Durham and Northumberland Mineral Statistics, (1983), 9-10
Chapman, N, 'Friends of Killhope Newsletter' in Rookhope Mines Part 2, , Vol. 30, (1994), 17-22
Chapman, N, 'Friends of Killhope Newsletter' in Rookhope Mines Part 1, , Vol. 29, (1994), 13-17


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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