Pike Law lead hushes and mines


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015835

Date first listed: 16-May-1997


Ordnance survey map of Pike Law lead hushes and mines
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Forest and Frith

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Newbiggin

National Grid Reference: NY 90364 31488


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. A hush is a gully or ravine excavated at least in part by use of a controlled torrent of water, to reveal or exploit a vein of lead or other mineral ore. Dams and leats to supply the water are normally associated, and some examples show tips of waste from manual ore processing beside the hush itself. Shaft and adit mineworkings sometimes occur in spatial association, though their working will not have been contemporary with that of the hush. There is documentary evidence for hushing from the Roman period on the continent, and from the 16th century in England; however a high proportion of surviving hushes are believed to be of 17th to 18th century date, the technique dying out by the mid 19th century. Hushes are a dramatic and very visible component of the lead mining industry. They are common in the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards, and in parts of Wales, but are rare in other lead mining areas. A sample of the better preserved isolated examples and those which form part of more extensive lead mining complexes, will merit protection.

Pike Law is one of the best preserved pre-19th century lead mining landscapes known in the northern Pennines. It retains a wide range of well preserved features including: visually impressive hushes with exposed working faces; an intricate water management system with an extensive network of dams and leats; well preserved manual ore processing areas and barrow tipped spoil heaps; structural remains of small buildings and other features; and a range of shaft forms, some with evidence of early horse gins. The monument therefore makes a significant contribution towards the understanding of pre-19th century lead mining.


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


The monument lies between Wester and Flushiemere Becks and is bisected by the road between Newbiggin in Teesdale and Westgate in Weardale. It includes the earthwork remains of a highly complex area of lead mining that was effectively exhausted before 1852. These remains include large opencuts and hushes, with associated dams and leats; numerous small ore processing areas; as well as shafts, levels and the standing remains of small miners' huts. All mining and ore processing waste is also included in the scheduling. The monument forms a core area of a wider lead mining landscape and does not include the hushes and shafts associated with Westerhead Vein and a series of coal outcrops that lie to the north west. Remains of the later Flushiemere barytes mine survive to the south east. These are poorly preserved and are also not included within the scheduling. The area between the top of Broadley Hill and the two enclosed fields to the west of Flushiemere barytes mine is crossed by more than six lead veins running east-west and north east to south west. Three veins, Leonard's, Flask and Pike Law Old Vein, are marked at the surface by large hushes. The Broadley Hill Veins, further to the north, were worked via shafts and levels driven from the side of Leonard's Hush. Worked from antiquity and well established by 1753 when the lease was taken over by the London Lead Company, the area only produced 1725 tons between 1852 and 1891 when all work finally ceased. The monument includes three main hushes running east-west on the east side of the road. These are, north to south, Leonard's, Pike Law and Flask Hush. Each forms a gully 30m-50m wide at the surface and up to c.10m deep, and are fed by a number of smaller side gullies, mostly from the north. These side gullies are in turn fed by a number of leats (purpose built water courses), many originating from reservoirs formed by earthwork dams up to 2m high. Further earthwork dams and water courses are found in the bottoms of the gullies. The whole system is fed by longer leats and natural streams flowing from the higher ground to the north. As these features are quite dispersed they are not included within the scheduling. The hushes retain exposed sections of abandoned working faces, spoil heaps of mining waste (with the inverted `V' cross-section indicative of barrow tipping - very different to the flat topped heaps more typical of 19th century mines which normally used tramways), and ore processing areas marked by dumps of processing wastes. At the east end of the hushes, towards the foot of the slope, there is a wide area covered by material washed down from the gullies, and at least four levels are driven under the hushes. On the west side of the road lie the West End Hushes. These are visually very spectacular, forming deep opencuts over 10m deep where the Pike Law and Broadley Hill Veins converge. At their south west end there is a broad area of washed out material which covers more than 0.5ha and is up to 2.5m deep where it is cut by Wester Beck. To the south of West End Hushes there are a series of shallow prospecting hushes running down the hillside, forming rounded and grassed over gullies up to 1m deep. To the north of the hushes, on both sides of the road, there are a number of shaft mounds typically 15m-20m in diameter and 1m high. To the west of the road these follow the course of New Streak Vein. To the east they are above the Broadley Hill Veins. Some of these shafts show evidence of cog and rung gins, where a horse walked around the shaft to operate winding gear raising ore from the workings, which are thought to have been typical of 17th century mines. Dispersed across the site there are a number of structural remains. These include the ruins of two stone built coes (miners' huts) measuring c.3m by 4m and standing to 1.5m and 0.5m high respectively; a stone flagged area 4m square and revetted on two sides by walling up to 0.6m high; and a partly buried stone lined pit 0.5m wide and over 0.2m deep. The land either side of all of the hushes contain numerous bare patches of ground, typically 1m by 2m in diameter, covered in ore processing waste with earthworks up to 0.5m high. These are considered to be the remains of small, ore processing areas where the ore was crushed and sorted by hand. A network of mining related paths and trackways can also be traced across the whole area. The modern fences, wooden electricity pylons, and the road surface 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.

Legacy System number: 29018

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Raistrick, A, Jennings, B, A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines, (1983), 152
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), 243-245

End of official listing