Allenheads lead ore works
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016348
Date first listed: 09-Dec-1997
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NY 85954 45528
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
The ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture
of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were 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 size (either by manual hammering or by 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 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.
Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the
large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th
centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly.
Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an
industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved
sites (covering the regional, chronological, and typological variety of the
class) will merit protection.
The remains of the lead ore works at Allenheads are reasonably well preserved and are important as an unmodified example of a 19th century dressing floor. The survival of the associated bouse teams enhances the importance of the monument.
The monument includes the western part of the lead ore works at Allenheads,
including the remains of a washing floor and a set of bouse teams, as well as
the drainage tunnel and channel of the Fawside lead level, a revetted section
of the River East Allen and a section of spoil tip. The bouse teams and the
drainage tunnel and channel are Listed Grade II. The monument formed part of a
wider complex of ore works and lead mines at Allenheads which included the
Fawside level, begun in 1776, and the Gin Hill shaft which was dug by 1793.
The complex forms the focal point of Allenheads planned industrial village,
constructed for the workers and staff of the Blackett-Beaumont lead
enterprises. All lead working activity on the site ceased in 1896.
A fine set of bouse teams, or tall, stone containers, are visible at the
eastern end of the monument; these containers were used to store the newly
mined lead ore prior to processing. The bouse teams are constructed of squared
rubble and consist of 14 apsidal bays separated by stepped walls. Some
of the bays still carry the remains of large timbers which formed part of a
tramway, along which the lead ore was carried in trucks for tipping. At the
northern end of the bouse teams there are the remains of a stone arched
drainage tunnel; a paved and walled channel 70m long emerges from the tunnel
and carries water from the Fawside level to the river at the south western
part of the monument. To the west of the bouse teams there are the earthwork
remains of the associated dressing floors on which many of the ore processing
operations, intended to wash and sort the ore from unwanted impurities, were
carried out. The floors are visible as a level surface containing the remains
of several rectangular and square depressions; these depressions are
interpreted as buddles and/or slime pits. The stone footings of a building are
also visible. The washing floors are flanked on the north by the River East
Allen which is contained within a paved and stone lined channel; it is thought
that the walled channel was constructed partly in order to protect the
washing floor from erosion by the river. At the north western end of the
monument there is a section of a large spoil heap associated with the mining
and ore processing activities at Allenheads.
The wooden bridge across the River East Allen, the stone steps giving access
to the spoil heap, all gate posts and all fences and railings which cross the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although 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: 28548
Legacy System: RSM
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