Coalcleugh lead rake


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


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
West Allen
National Grid Reference:
NY 79733 44812

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. Lead rakes are linear mining features along the outcrop of a lead vein resulting from the extraction of relatively shallow ore. They can be broadly divided between: rakes consisting of continuous rock-cut clefts; rakes consisting of lines of interconnecting or closely-spaced shafts with associated spoil tips and other features; and rakes whose surface features were predominantly produced by reprocessing of earlier waste tips (normally in the 19th century). In addition, some sites contain associated features such as coes (miners' huts), gin circles (the circular track used by a horse operating simple winding or pumping machinery), and small-scale ore-dressing areas and structures, often marked by tips of dressing waste. The majority of rake workings are believed to be of 16th-18th century date, but earlier examples are likely to exist, and mining by rock-cut cleft has again become common in the 20th century. Rakes are the main field monuments produced by the earlier and technologically simpler phases of lead mining. They are very common in Derbyshire, where they illustrate the character of mining dominated by regionally distinctive Mining Laws, and moderately common in the Pennine and Mendip orefields; they are rare in other lead mining areas. A sample of the better preserved examples from each region, illustrating the typological range, will merit protection.

Coalcleugh retains a well preserved example of a typical lead rake which originates from before the 1690s. The monument includes the well preserved remains of small ore processing areas with spreads of waste retaining technological information, together with the earthwork remains of dams believed to have been constructed to hold water for ore processing operations. The monument also includes the earthworks of three whim shafts, typical 18th century shafts which used horse power to raise material from the workings. Although there is no public access to the monument, the remains can be viewed from the road and thus the monument forms an educational resource.


The monument lies besides the road at the end of West Allendale. It includes the earthwork remains of the shallow shaft workings that follow Coalcleugh Low Vein which, along with associated dressing areas and spoil heaps, forms a rake. This rake is thought to be the earliest remains of Coalcleugh mine, the surface remains of which cover a wide area at the head of West Allendale. To the north of the rake are the remains of a later 18th to 19th century nucleated mine which, together with the more dispersed remains of further levels, air and winding shafts, are not included within the scheduling. Coalcleugh lies within the manor of Hexhamshire which was appropriated by Henry VIII and remained in the hands of the Crown until 1632. In 1694 the estate was sold to William Blackett who became the agent in charge of the Bishop of Durham's mining interests in Weardale two years later. Blackett established a mining company which took direct control of mining operations in Allendale and Weardale, replacing the previous system of mining which had been conducted by numerous small partnerships of miners holding individual leases from the mineral rights owner. This company, which became the Blackett- Beaumont Company, dominated mining in the area until the late 19th century. Mining at Coalcleugh started before William Blackett bought the estate, and the area significantly benefited from investment by the Blackett company in the following years. By the mid-18th century, horse gins (horse powered winding equipment) were employed at three shafts, Low, Middle and High Whimsey, allowing deeper exploitation of the veins. In 1760 Barneycraig Horse Level was started to the south of Carshield, 2km to the NNE of the monument. This became the main access to the mine workings at the head of the dale and helped to drain the lower workings. It is thought that by the end of the 18th century this level, together with the levels driven southwards from the hamlet of Coalcleugh, just to the north and down valley from the monument, had replaced the surface workings of the rake. In 1765 Westgarth Forster, the agent for the Coalcleugh area, installed the country's first hydraulic engine (which was similar in design to atmospheric steam engines, but used the weight of water instead of the effect of a part vacuum) to pump water from the deeper mine workings. Mining for lead ceased in the Coalcleugh area in 1880, but it was worked for zinc until 1921. In the southern part of the site lie the c.40m diameter, 2m high earthworks of a whim shaft, marked on the 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map as Rough & Ready (Old Lead Shaft) but believed to be the remains of High Whimsey which was working by the mid 18th century. This is visible as a spoil heap of mining waste which has a level area next to a depression marking the location of the shaft. The level area would have provided space for a horse whim (also known as a horse gin, being a circular track for a horse, which powered a winding drum to raise material up the shaft). To the north east of this shaft there are the earthwork remains of a number of other shafts with smaller associated mine spoil heaps, typically less than 10m in diameter and 0.5m high. These are thought to be the remains of shafts dating to before the mid-18th century which, unlike whim shafts, were not always vertical and tended to be stepped with short rises offset from one another, rather than being continuous. Raising ore in these shafts was labour intensive often with a number of people employed to pass the material to the surface in stages. Consequently much of the sorting was conducted underground which limited the size of the surface spoil heaps. Around the shafts there are spreads of ore processing wastes with dumps of waste minerals removed from the lead ore. Much of this material is knocking waste (discarded material removed by manual hammering of the material) which is characterised by its angular appearance. Some however appears to be jigging waste which is material discarded after the ore has been sieved in water (ore containing lead is denser than waste material, and will tend to separate out when agitated in water). The different dumps of ore processing waste will retain technological information about the processes involved and a few isolated timber fragments identified on the surface, indicate that the waste conceals additional buried remains. The spread of shafts, which are not regularly spaced and are typically between 5m and 20m apart, with their associated spoil and ore processing waste heaps, extend to the north east of Rough & Ready shaft to form a strip of workings up to c.70m wide. Two further whim shafts, c.100m and c.250m north east of Rough & Ready shaft are included in the scheduling. The shafts on the spoil heaps have been capped with concrete and are surrounded by drystone walls. Also included are a number of low earthwork banks, typically less than 0.3m high, which are thought to be small dams used to store water for ore processing. The drystone walling surrounding the capped shafts, and the modern fence line that forms part of the boundary to the monument are 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.

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Books and journals
Raistrick, A, Jennings, B, A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines, (1983), Indexed
Chapman, N, 'Friends of Killhope newsletter' in Mr Westgarth's Water Engine, , Vol. Vol 31, (1994), 4-7
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), 158-159


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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