Lead mining remains at Ramshaw
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015862
Date first listed: 06-Aug-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 95450 46413, NY 95523 47872, NY 95571 46676, NY 95803 46658, NY 96426 48095
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 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.
The Derwent mines bear the stamp of John Taylor, the famous 19th century mining entrepreneur and engineer, who was involved in mining enterprise in every mining field in the country. Taylor introduced Cornish miners to the Derwent mines and much of the remains display a Cornish influence. It is one of the few sites in the North Pennines to have been worked by an extensive system of flatrods. The remains of the flatrod tunnel at Taylor's Shaft is considered to be one of the best preserved in the country. The Sikehead mine is a good example of a 19th century nucleated mine with many rare features of Cornish influence not encountered on other sites in the North Pennines. For the majority of their history the Derwent mines relied on water power, though steam power did play an important periodic role. During the 19th century, under the influence of Taylor, an extensive water management complex was created. Much of this system has been affected by later activities, though the two large dams at Sikehead are well preserved and are important as examples of the 19th century water management at the mines. Ore hearth smeltmills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to develop until the late 19th century. They were the normal type of lead smelter until the 18th century, when they were partly replaced by the reverberatory smeltmill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth, in which lead ore was mixed with fuel. An airblast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a waterwheel; more sophisticated arangements were used at some 19th century sites. Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths, where as late 18th and 19th century smeltmills were often large complexes containing several ore and slag hearths, furnaces, and sometimes complex flues, condensers and chimneys for recovering lead from the fumes given off by the various hearths and furnaces. At the Derwent mines a complex network of flues, and culverts for water, survives at the site of Jeffrey's smeltmill and the line of the flue can be traced over the moorland to the chimney. The lower part of the flue system is considered to be one of the best examples in the North Pennines.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the ruins, earthworks and other remains of the core
areas of the Derwent lead mines. The monument, falling within five areas,
lies on the east side of the Bolts Burn, between 2km and 3.5km south of
The early history of the Derwent mines, known collectively since they were
worked as a single enterprise for most of their history, is little known. A 21
year grant was made in 1624 to the Duke of Buckingham for all silver and lead
within 10 miles of Muggleswick, including the Derwent mines. The mines were
worked by the London Lead Company in the 18th century, though the majority of
visible remains relate to the Derwent Lead Mining Company in the 19th century.
This company appointed John Taylor, considered to be the most accomplished
mining engineer of the 19th century, to manage the mines and he introduced
Cornish miners and their techniques to the mining operations. He built an
extensive water management system based around the Sikehead Dams and an
extensive system of flatrods (for operating pumps), powered by large
waterwheels on the valley floor; this system is one of the most complex known
to survive on any related mining site in England. The extraction of lead
declined after the late 19th century, though fluorspar extraction continued
intermittently until the 1980s.
The first area of protection includes the remains of the Taylor's Shaft site,
situated above the east side of the valley of Bolts Burn, together with a
sample length of the best-preserved remains of its associated flat-rod system.
The rods were connected to waterwheels in the valley bottom and extended up
the hillside to Taylor's Shaft. At the shaft, the horizontal motion of the
rods was converted to vertical and allowed water to be pumped up from the
lower levels of the mine. The remains of the tunnel which housed the flatrods,
which is included within the scheduling, has collapsed along much of its
length, though intact sections do survive. The tunnel is of drystone
construction, measuring 0.8m wide by 1.4m high by 470m long, with corbelled
roof and turf cover. The water from the shaft is thought to have been
channelled downhill through the flatrod tunnel to Pressers Shaft, which is
not included within the scheduling. Taylor's Shaft, which was sunk to a depth
of over 250m, is situated at the upslope end of the flatrod trench. The shaft
is now capped with timber sleepers and enclosed within a drystone wall, all
of which is included within the scheduling. The remains of a gin circle (horse
powered winder) are situated on the south east side of the shaft and include
the faint earthwork of a 9m diameter walking circle. The gin circle is related
to a choked and water filled shaft immediately to the south and a small low
area of mine spoil. On the north west side of Taylor's Shaft are the low
remains of an engine house measuring 4m square, a boiler house measuring 3m
by 11m and a 2.5m diameter chimney base surviving to 0.5m high. Spoil tips,
including boiler clinker, are situated to the north west and south west.
The second area of protection includes the remains of the Jeffrey's smelt
mill, flue, and chimney. The smelt mill itself survives as a flat area 1.1km
to WSW of Taylor's Shaft, beneath which the stream is culverted. The area
south east of this, extending to the modern road, is occupied by a series of
terraces; some of these are paved, with slight building remains, whereas
others are vegetated. This area is underlain by a complex series of flues and
rodway tunnels, which continue beneath the modern road to occupy much of a
small coniferous plantation. The flues are of drystone arched construction;
parts of the system are intact, but other sections have collapsed. The flue
along the east side of the plantation is particularly well preserved,
measuring approximately 1.7m wide by 1.7m high internally, with an oval cross-
section and a paved floor.
To the south of the plantation, the flues are believed to have been destroyed
across an area of enclosed pasture. This area has thus not been included
within the protection. Collapsed remains of the flue do survive beyond the
improved pasture where it runs for just over 1km across open moorland. The
final 130m length of the flue, which terminates at a chimney, has been
included in a third area of protection. The chimney, which is also included in
the scheduling, lies 1.8km SSW of Taylor's Shaft and 1.4km SSE of Jameson's
smeltmill. It is approximately 15m tall with a 7m diameter stepped base and
has a flue opening 2m wide by 2.4m high. The chimney is of coursed random
sandstone with a red brick capping.
Immediately west of the chimney are the two Sikehead dams which were central
to the water management system of the Derwent mines in the early to mid 19th
century. The eastern dam lies within the same area of protection as the
chimney and sample length of flue. It runs NNW-SSE, is approximately 6m wide
at base by 2m high, has a drystone revetment on the inner face with a revetted
stone overspill at the south end. The dam currently holds water which is
directed via a narrow watercourse to the Presser Pumping Station, neither of
which are included within the scheduling. The western dam forms a fourth area
of protection 200m to the west. It is broadly rectangular, with banks on three
sides and an open south east side, enclosing an area of 2ha. The dam is 8m
wide at base with a maximum height of 2m, though the south east ends are
tapered. The internal face has a 1m high drystone revetment, with a revetted
and retained outflow sluice in the south west bank leading to a stone lined
The final area of protection includes the remains of the Sikehead mine and
dressing floor which lies 0.4km south west of the smeltmill chimney and 2.1km
SSW of Taylor's Shaft. It includes two shafts sunk in the 1840s, Ruth Shaft
for pumping, and Ellen Shaft for winding. Ruth Shaft was originally operated
by flatrods from Deborah Level, 0.6km to the WNW, poorly preserved and thus
not included within the scheduling. When a branch railway line was extended
across the moors to Sikehead, the availability of coal allowed the
construction and operation of an economically viable steam engine and led to
the removal of the flatrod wheel. The low remains of the Cornish beam engine
house and boiler house are situated to the south of Ruth shaft. The chimney
survives to 14m in height with a 3.5m diameter base and a firebrick built
arched opening. Ellen Shaft, situated just to the north, is capped with
concrete and an iron plate. A small hand operated cast iron capstan is
situated on top of the plate. To the east are the remains of the flatrod
balance bob pit and wash kiln (ore storage bin) and a 2m diameter capstan
setting. The low remains of a rectangular building with concrete settings is
situated to the north east.
Just to the WNW of the shafts are the remains of Robinson's Level. Ore was
hauled from the level along a linear spoil tip to the west to be hand dressed.
The remains of a particularly rare ore chute in the Cornish tradition is built
into the spoil tip. The remains of a wheelpit and drum wheel setting for a
6.1m diameter waterwheel are situated to the north west and were employed for
winding Ellen Shaft. The dressing floor is represented by graded areas of
dressing waste and forms the western end of the area of protection.
All post and wire fences, and road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them 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: 28910
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Raistrick, A, Jennings, B, A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines, (1983), 54
Chapman, N A, 'British Mining' in Sikehead Lead Mine, Ramshaw, Northumberland, , Vol. 55, (1995), 31-36
Tyne & Wear Industrial Monuments Trust, Lead Working Sites in County Durham Recomended for Protection, 1974, Typescript report for Durham C C
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