Park Level lead mine with ore works on Killhope Burn
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015853
Date first listed: 16-Jul-1968
Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jul-1997
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NY 82685 43008
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
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.
Park Level mine adit is a good example of the mining technology of the mid- 19th century. The area of shallow shaft based workings on the east bank of the Burn form an important contrast to the later deep adit technology of the Park Level mine adit. The associated ore works with mechanised crushing mill is typical of the majority of nucleated mines of this period. The site is open to the public and has become an important centre for the interpretation of the lead industry of the North Pennines as well as a valuable educational amenity. Part excavation has provided evidence of the operation of the mine and further undisturbed structures and stratigraphic deposits will survive, particularly in the area between the jigger house and the dressing floors, which will contribute further to our understanding of the dressing process. The restored stone lined launder and reservoir to the south west are important to the overall context of the site. They supply the water to power the Wheel and are valuable evidence of the once extensive intergrated water management system which formerly fed the mill.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument, which lies within a single area, is situated on the Killhope
Burn, in the upper reaches of Weardale, County Durham, and includes the
buildings, earthworks and other remains of the Park Level lead mine and ore
works. All original buildings within the monument are Listed and are also
included within the scheduling.
The mine lies within a former medieval hunting forest once the possession of
the Bishopric of Durham, responsibility for which eventually fell to the
Church Commissioners. From 1696 until 1882 the mineral rights were leased to
the Blackett-Beaumont family followed in turn by the Weardale Lead Company.
The site includes the remains of the Park Level mine with restored mineshop
(Listed Grade II), saddle house and mine adit situated on the right bank of
the Burn in the south western part of the site. The adit was begun in 1853 as
a cross-cutting horse level and driven west to intercept lead veins previously
worked by hushing and shallow shaft based workings. The remains of earlier
shallow shaft-based workings on the left bank of the Burn are included within
The core area of the site, situated on the right bank of the Burn, contains
the restored and excavated ore works. The dressing floors and bouseteams
(storage bays for unprocessed ore) were built in 1862 with reconstruction in
1874-76 and are Listed Grade II. The dressing floors are an excellent example
of manual dressing technology. They include reconstructed timber and stone
structures such as hotching tubs, dolly tubs, settling tanks and Brunton
buddles. These reconstructions are not included in the scheduling.
Excavation and survey carried out in the 1980s has provided evidence of the
layout of the site including original settings and foundations. The restored
crushing mill, built in 1874-76 and a Listed Building Grade II*, is an
excellent example of the more advanced water powered mechanised separation
plants of the later 19th century and is included within the schedule. The
crushing mill was built to replace the now destroyed Burn Bottom mill,
situated 300m upstream, which was unable to cope with the volume of ore
produced from Park Level adit.
The mill includes the Killhope Wheel, jigger and buddle houses, and the timber
framework of the crushing plant. The Wheel (a Listed Building Grade II*) is
now the largest surviving waterwheel in the north of England with a diameter
of 10.3m. To the south west lie the original reservoir and stone lined launder
which supplied water for the wheel.
The mill was standing complete in 1919 but shortly afterwards the plant was
removed by the Weardale Lead Company for service at other mines still in
All drystone boundary walls, fenceposts, the revetted retaining wall in the
northern part of the site, road surfaces, a reconstructed stone and timber
bridge, and the modern reconstructions are excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath all 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: 28901
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Lead and Life at Killhope, (1987), 6-22
Beadle, H, Killhope Lead Crushing Mill, (1968), 9-18
Coggins, D, Park Level Mill, Killhope: Excavations Near Mine Portal, 1985, Unpublished report for Durham CC
Cranstone, D A L and Hedley, I, A689 Road Improvements, Killhope Lead Mine, 1994, Unpublished report for Durham CC
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