Holmslinn lead mine, 200m south east of Holmes


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


Ordnance survey map of Holmslinn lead mine, 200m south east of Holmes
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 84192 52383

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 flat rod systems, transport systems such as railways and inclines, and water power and water supply features such as wheel pits, dams and leats. The majority of nucleated lead mines also included ore works where the ore, once extracted, was processed. The majority of nucleated lead mines are of 18th to 20th century date, earlier mining being normally by rake or hush (a gully or ravine partly excavated by use of a controlled torrent of water to reveal or exploit a vein of mineral ore). They 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 upland landscapes. It is estimated that at least 10,000 sites, exist the majority being small mines of limited importance, although the important early remains at many larger mines have been greatly modified or destroyed by continued working or modern reworking. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of the class, is considered to merit protection.

Holmslinn mine is a good example of a small single phase north Pennine lead mine. The remains survive well as there has been no later development on the site. The engine bed and the wheel pit are of particularly high quality, and the associated features, which are also well preserved, form an integral part of the monument. Of particular importance is the mine's wider significance as one of four shafts on the Blackett Level, designed by the principal engineer of the company Thomas Sopwith in collaboration with W G Armstrong of the Elswick Engine Works.


The monument includes the remains of Holmslinn lead mine, situated on the left bank of the River East Allen. Lead mining began at Holmslinn in 1856 and continued until the late 19th century. The mine was one of four shafts in the East Allen valley, owned and operated by the Blackett company, and situated on the Blackett Level, dug in order to exploit and drain the East Allen mines between 1859 and 1903. The remains, standing and otherwise at Holmslinn mine all relate to its single phase of exploitation. The main entry to the mine was through a shaft which is situated at the extreme northern part of the monument. The shaft was dug in 1855 and is approximately 70m deep. The shaft is surmounted by the base of a tower, constructed of good ashlar blocks, which is terraced into the steep slopes above the River East Allen; this structure supported the base of the winding gear which lifted the lead ore to the surface and carried mine personnel through the shaft. The stone portal of an adit, dug in 1859 and which served to drain the mine, is visible at the foot of the slope below the base of the winding gear. The winding gear was powered by an adjacent hydraulic engine. The engine bed upon which the engine lay is a well preserved structure constructed of good quality ashlar. Photographs show that the engine was originally housed in a wooden shed. The engine was supplied with high pressure water from a piece of machinery known as an accumulator. Water was pumped into the accumulator from a water wheel, the remains of both are situated at the southern end of the monument. There is a stone built wheel pit which contained a large overshot water wheel and this is also a Listed Building Grade II; it is thought that water was carried from the south on a wooden launder onto the wheel, although the reservoirs or dams which provided the source of water have not been identified. The surplus water left the wheel pit through an arched portal into a stone lined tail race which carried it northwards into the river. Attached to the eastern side of the wheel pit there are the remains of a small rectangular building, visible today as a masonry platform. This building housed the hydraulic accumulator from which sufficient water, at the correct pressure, was piped to the hydraulic engine. The lead ore which was raised from Holmslinn mine, was removed from the site for processing and subsequently for smelting to the Allen smelting mill at Allendale, also operated by Blackett. The lodging house and office building are excluded from the scheduling as are all fences which cross the monument, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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:
Legacy System:


Coombes, L C, Lead Mining In East And West Allendale, Archaeologia Aeliana 4th series, (1958)
Holmes Linn Mine: Step 3 Report,
Ian Forbes,


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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