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
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.
The remains of rake workings on Flinty Fell survive well and will retain
evidence for the manual ore processing techniques associated with this type of
lead working. In addition, the understanding of the mining remains at Flinty
Fell is enhanced by the survival of documentary sources which provide evidence
for early mining activities at the site.
The monument, which lies within three separate areas, extends from the west,
east and north sides of a coniferous plantation to the south of the road
across Flinty Fell between Garrigill and Nenthead. It includes three well
preserved areas of lead mining remains which lie within a more extensive
mining landscape. Rakes, shafts, levels and spreads of ore processing wastes
extend over a wide area from the top of Flinty Fell to the 19th century
nucleated mines alongside Garrigill Burn to the north west (which are the
subject of a separate scheduling). The three areas along the rakes which form
the scheduling include particularly distinct concentrations of well preserved
earthworks and spreads of mining and ore processing wastes, and are considered
to be representative of the wider mining landscape.
In the medieval period, the mines around Alston 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 in the royal mint at Carlisle. The first documentary reference to mining
in the area is in 1130 and lead is thought to have been mined from Brown Gill
and Brown Gill Sun veins from at least the later Norman period and continued
on an intermittent basis until the early 19th century, by which time most
working was conducted from adits driven from Garrigill Burn to the west and
Nenthead to the north. From 1706 the mining was controlled by the London Lead
Company which tended to work veins at depth via adits.
The first area of protection includes the mining remains that form rake
workings along two associated east-west veins and includes the earthwork
remains of a large whimsey shaft which is visible as a flat topped mound of
mine spoil some 40m in diameter standing up to 3m high alongside Souther Gill.
On top of the mound is a depression which marks the position of the shaft and
a level area to the side which was the site of the whim gin circle (where a
horse walked a circular track to power a winding drum to lift ore up the
shaft). Such devices are known from documentary sources from the 17th century
and were used into the 19th century. The remains also include a number of
smaller shaft mounds typically 20m in diameter standing 1m to 1.5m high. Some
of these also retain evidence of gin circles, mostly with the trackway for the
horse being concentric with the shaft rather than set to one side,
representing the remains of cog and rung gins. These cog and rung gin circles
are thought to be generally earlier than whim gin circles. One of these shafts
retains a drystone beehive capping standing to 0.5m high. Between the shaft
mounds there are numerous grassed over low earthworks which stand up to 0.5m
high and are identified as the earthwork remains of shallow surface workings,
as well as areas of waste from manual ore processing.
Further remains survive to the east, west and north. Those to the east lie
within a coniferous plantation most of which appears to have been ploughed
before planting. These remains are believed to have suffered disturbance as a
result of this ploughing and are thus not included in the scheduling. The
dressing wastes associated with the mining remains just to the north of the
road appear to have been partially reworked, and are not included in the
The second area of protection lies to the south of the modern Garrigill to
Nenthead road, east of the coniferous plantation. It includes a concentrated
area of workings along the rake following Brown Gill vein which runs east-west
and it includes the earthwork remains of Longholehead Whimsey. The shaft mound
here is slightly lower, and the shaft, which is roughly capped with concrete
railway sleepers, is still open. Longholehead is thought to have been sunk by
the London Lead Company and it lies above the underground junction between the
workings of Whitesike Mine 2km to the west and those driven from Nenthead
1.5km to the north east, both of which are the subject of separate
schedulings. To the east, west and south of this large shaft mound there are a
number of smaller shaft mounds and groups of shallow depressions marking areas
of surface workings. Surrounding all of these features are extensive spreads
of manual ore processing wastes which extend over most of the area. This waste
will preserve evidence of the techniques employed near the shafts to
concentrate the lead content of the ore before it was removed to be smelted.
It will retain evidence for the methods of crushing the rock, together with
various sorting techniques.
The third area of protection includes the earthwork remains of shallow surface
workings and hollows up to 1m deep either side of Brown Gill stream. A number
of small shaft mounds and unvegetated spreads of ore processing material are
also visible within this area.
Drystone walling and modern fences are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.