Beldon lead mine and ore works at Beldon Shields


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016462

Date first listed: 14-Jun-1999


Ordnance survey map of Beldon lead mine and ore works at Beldon Shields
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hunstanworth

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Blanchland

National Grid Reference: NY 92861 49534


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.

Beldon Burn lead mine and oreworks are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. This is a good example of a small, relatively undisturbed North Pennine lead mine with two well defined and dated phases. The importance of the monument is increased by the survival of a wide range of components including some unusual features.


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


The monument includes the remains of Beldon lead mine and ore works, situated on two levels on the floor of the narrow Beldon Burn. The Beldon mine worked a number of small lead veins but the extent of the underground workings are unclear. The visible remains of the lead mine and ore works belong to two separate periods. The first ran from the 18th century, when the mine opened, until its closure by 1820. The mine was enlarged in 1805, when it is thought that a Boulton and Watt steam engine was installed. The mine along with the ore works was worked once again during the 1860s-70s. The remains of the lead mine are visible as a series of earthworks and ruined buildings and structures. Acess to the mine was gained by two stone lined shafts, both of which are thought to belong to the first phase of mining; the first shaft, situated at the north west corner of the monument, is 10m square and its upper parts are visible as lengths of rubble walls partially obscured by spoil and waste material. Some 20m to the south, beyond a series of spoil heaps, lies the second shaft. This shaft is roughly circular in shape and is water filled. In addition to the two shafts there is also an adit situated immediately south east of the circular shaft. The adit is visible as two parallel rubble walls standing 2m high. The stone portal is buried beneath spreads of rubble. Immediately to the east of the latter there are further ruined structures, which it is thought may be the remains of a series of bouse teams, tall stone containers in which the mined ore was stored prior to processing. Attached to the south side of the circular shaft there are the remains of the engine house, thought to have housed a Boulton and Watt Rotary steam engine; the lower courses of this building are visible as a series of rubble walls 8m wide standing to a maximum height of 3m. The interior of the engine house is filled with the collapsed upper courses and is thought to preserve further features within it. Some 30m to the east there is a two roomed building measuring 12m by 6m with a small annexe attached to each gable and a low enclosing wall around the south and east sides. The walls stand to a maximum height of 3m on the eastern side and small blocked windows are visible in the south and east walls. This building is thought to be the mine workshop and smithy. Immediately to the east of the workshop there is a roughly circular enclosure surrounded by a low wall 0.5m high and bounded on the east by the foundations of a small building. The enclosure contains several depressions, of which at least one may be the remains of an old shaft. The small building measures 6m by 2m and stands to a height of 0.5m. Attached to its northern end are the foundations of a circular structure 2m in diameter and interpreted as the remains of a chimmney. This building is thought to belong to the earliest phase of mining at the monument. The remains of the Beldon ore works include evidence for a range of processing activities. Situated between the latter building and the bend in the river there is an extensive dressing floor where many of the ore processing operations were carried out. The dressing floor is visible as a level piece of ground containing several discrete spreads of waste and sorted material. In addition to the waste, several earthworks of platforms and hollows are visible contained within a low bank. Immediately to the north of, and on a higher level than, the dressing floor there are further features associated with ore processing activities. These include a prominent flat topped rectangular embankment measuring 60m by 5m, revetted with retaining walls standing to a height of 6m. At the eastern end of the embankment there are the lower courses of a range of stone structures terminating in a rectangular stone lined wheel pit. A single stone pillar at one end of the wheel pit is thought to have supported a wooden launder which it is thought ran along the top of the embankment. A well preserved culverted tail race runs from the wheel pit eastwards across the monument towards the Beldon Burn. On the north side of the embankment a channel runs to the site of a crushing mill near the square shaft at the north west corner of the monument; it is thought that this channel held a series of flat rods to power the crushing mill. All wooden fence posts 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: 28594

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dennison, E, Beldon Mine, Blanchland, (1997)
Lead Industry Site Assessment: Step 3&4, 1996,

End of official listing