Upper Slatesike lead mine and ore works, 750m north east of Black Dub


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015837

Date first listed: 16-May-1997


Ordnance survey map of Upper Slatesike lead mine and ore works, 750m north east of Black Dub
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Alston Moor

National Grid Reference: NY 70748 35305


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. 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.

The remains at Upper Slatesike are typical of an 18th century lead mine with its characteristic barrow tipped spoil heaps, instead of the finger tips created by tub runs which became more typical in the 19th century. The monument includes a fine example of a manually powered oreworks, with its network of water channels, remains of stone built structures and discrete spreads of ore processing waste. The monument thus forms one of the best preserved examples of an 18th or early 19th century lead mine known in Northern England.


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


The monument lies at the head of Slate Sike, one of the headwaters of the River Tees. It includes the structural and earthwork remains of the main level and ore works, but not the more dispersed remains of levels and shafts to the north, east and west. Upper Slatesike Mine worked the West Cross Fell vein, the westward continuation of the Cashwell vein, via a series of cross-cut adits (self- draining mine levels driven to cross the line of the vein, rather than along its length). It is thought that the mine was worked prior to 1778 and was abandoned in favour of an adit, which is not included in the scheduling, driven at a lower level by the early 19th century. The monument includes the final c.30m section of the main mine level. This section, passing through shallow ground, was constructed by cut and cover (where the ground was too shallow to allow tunnelling, a cutting was made with arched stonework built to form the level, then covered with earth to stabilise the construction) to maintain the level's gradient, allowing it to drain. The side walls stand c.1m high and extend beyond the level entrance south eastward to a c.6m by 5m stone building. This building would have controlled access to the mine and is interpreted as a mine office and store. The remains of a c.0.5m wide tramway which is flanked by low heaps of grassed over mine spoil extends south eastwards from the level. The tramway splits into two: the western tramway leads to a series of mine spoil heaps, now mostly grassed over, and soon becomes difficult to trace; the eastern one runs for c.10m and ends at a set of three stone built bouse teams (storage bays for ore) which stand to close their original height, c.1m. To the east of these bays there is a wide area measuring approximately 50m by 70m covered in discrete spreads of dressing wastes. These wastes were produced by various processes designed to concentrate the lead content of the ore up to 60-70 percent. All of the processes at Slatesike are thought to have been manually powered and after the ore was broken up by hand and sorted by eye, all the processes would have used water to separate the dense lead ore from the lighter waste minerals, with a series of processes being employed to treat increasingly small particles. A network of small water channels can be seen across the site showing that a complex water management system was employed, reusing water several times. To the south of the bouse teams there are a number of rounded dumps of mine spoil. These spoil heaps, which are now mainly grassed over, are typical of wheelbarrow tipped heaps with rounded `hogs back' profiles and are very different to the finger tips (long `finger'-like flat-topped spoil heaps) produced by mine tubs run along rails which became typical in the 19th century. The tips at Slatesike are typically up to 1.5m high, but the largest, which forms the southernmost point of the monument, is c.30m by 10m by 5m high.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29022

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), 132-133
Fairbairn, R A, 'British Mining' in The Mines of Alston Moor, , Vol. No 47, (1993), 144-145

End of official listing