Fletcheras Rake lead workings


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017447

Date first listed: 23-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Fletcheras Rake lead workings
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Alston Moor

National Grid Reference: NY 74351 43365


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. Lead rakes are linear mining features along the outcrop of a lead vein resulting from the extraction of relatively shallow ore. They can be broadly divided between: rakes consisting of continuous rock-cut clefts; rakes consisting of lines of interconnecting or closely-spaced shafts with associated spoil tips and other features; and rakes whose surface features were predominantly produced by reprocessing of earlier waste tips (normally in the 19th century). In addition, some sites contain associated features such as coes (miners' huts), gin circles (the circular track used by a horse operating simple winding or pumping machinery), and small-scale ore-dressing areas and structures, often marked by tips of dressing waste. The majority of rake workings are believed to be of 16th-18th century date, but earlier examples are likely to exist, and mining by rock-cut cleft has again become common in the 20th century. Rakes are the main field monuments produced by the earlier and technologically simpler phases of lead mining. They are very common in Derbyshire, where they illustrate the character of mining dominated by regionally distinctive Mining Laws, and moderately common in the Pennine and Mendip orefields; they are rare in other lead mining areas. A sample of the better preserved examples from each region, illustrating the typological range, will merit protection.

Fletcheras Rake is documented from 1475. It retains a wide range of well preserved features that have resulted from four centuries of mining activity, all concentrated within a relatively small area. The archaeological remains to the north east of High Hundybridge survive well and represent a good concentration of surface and buried features, for both the lead and coal industries. These provide evidence for both the historical and technological developments of this upland mining landscape. Buried features, particularly the remains of horse-powered winding mechanisms, will survive in the vicinity of the shafts. The lead mining features will, in turn, retain information for manual ore processing techniques and for post-medieval mining activities.


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


The monument includes the earthwork remains of a range of extensive lead mining and prospecting techniques, including shallow shaft working along rakes and small scale hushing. It also includes an area of coal mining remains that follow a coal outcrop along the hillside at the southern end of the monument and deposits of both mine spoil and ore processing waste. The monument extends north eastwards up the side of a valley towards the summit of Middle Fell. In the medieval period the mines of Alston Moor were of great importance nationally, being part of the `mines of Carlisle'. The lead ore mined in the mid-12th century is thought to have been especially rich in silver and was used by the royal mint at Carlisle. The first documentary reference to mining on Alston Moor is in 1130. Specific references to individual mines (rather than broad mining areas) are rare in the medieval period. Fletcheras mine is first referred to by name in 1475, when it was granted (along with three other mines) to the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Northumberland and two merchants by Edward IV. It is thought that small scale mining continued on Fletcheras Rake on an intermittent basis until the mid-19th century. In the north easternmost part of the monument the well preserved earthwork remains of at least six shafts are visible in the form of shaft mounds, typically 1m high. Three of these are interpreted as whimsey shafts - shafts with associated gin circles, where a horse walked a circular path around the top of the shaft to operate a winding drum raising ore from the mine. The shaft locations can be identified as grassed over hollows. Across the fieldwall to the south west there is an extensive area of shafts surrounded by ore processing wastes. Ore raised from the shafts was manually dressed (processed) to remove some of the waste minerals and concentrate the lead content before it could be smelted to produce usable lead metal. Archaeological deposits associated with some of these techniques (which included the use of hammers, sieving in tubs of water and washing material in streams of water) will survive as buried features. In this area, Fletcheras vein is crossed by a cross-cut vein (Old Groves) which follows a north-south fault line. This vein is marked by shallow surface workings with interconnecting shaft hollows and spoil mounds forming a typical lead rake which appears as a grassed over area of earthworks up to 2m high. A 250m sample length of particularly well preserved earthworks is included in the scheduling to protect the close relationship between the two sets of workings. Downhill from the cross-cut vein, the workings on Fletcheras vein continue as rake workings with shafts surrounded by mine spoil and areas of dressing wastes. The area is bisected by a north east to south west field boundary. To the west of this there is a series of shallow gullies (between 0.5 and 1m deep) running downhill. These are identified as the earthwork remains of prospecting hushes, where controlled torrents of water were used to remove overburden in the hope of exposing new lead deposits. Forming part of the eastern boundary of the monument is a stream which is believed to have been artificially channelled in part. Further downhill a leat runs ENE from this stream to feed a hush that is broader than any of the prospecting hushes. This hush crosses the line of the vein and appears to have been partially worked as an opencut (the vein being worked by quarrying). Water from the leat would have been used to wash away waste material, and may also have been used for ore dressing. The line of the rake continues to the south west and downhill from this hush, with irregularly spaced shafts, some with associated spoil mounds and gin circles. Just uphill from High Hundybridge House, at the south west end of the monument, there are the earthwork remains of a series of levels with short spoil finger tips (made up of shale) at their collapsed entrances. These are the remains of shallow adit workings along a coal outcrop and uphill, and to the north east, there are a number of shafts that are interpreted as air shafts for these levels. A sample area of these workings have been included within the scheduling to preserve the relationship between the lead and coal mining remains. The drystone fieldwalls and all modern fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 29009

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Raistrick, A, Jennings, B, A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines, (1983), 48-49
Blanchard, I, 'Boles and Smeltmills' in Technical Implications of the Transition from Silver to Lead , (1992), 9-11
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), indexed

End of official listing