Providence smelt mill, 500m south of Minakin Row


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017753

Date first listed: 24-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Providence smelt mill, 500m south of Minakin Row
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Harrogate (District Authority)

Parish: Bewerley

National Grid Reference: SE 11653 65038


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. Ore hearth smelt mills 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 partially replaced by the reverberatory smelt mill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth, in which lead ore was mixed with fuel (initially dried wood, later a mixture of peat and coal). An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a waterwheel; more sophisticated arrangements were used at some 19th century sites. The slags from the ore hearth still contained some lead. This was extracted by resmelting the slags at a higher temperature using charcoal or (later) coke fuel, normally in a separate slag hearth. This was typically within the ore hearth smelt mill, though separate slag mills are known. Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths, whereas late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often large complexes containing several ore and slag hearths, roasting furnaces for preparing the ore, refining furnaces for extracting silver from the lead by a process known as cupellation, and reducing furnaces for recovering lead from the residue or litharge produced by cupellation, together with sometimes complex systems of flues, condensers and chimneys for recovering lead from the fumes given off by the various hearths and furnaces. The ore hearth smelt mill site will also contain fuel stores and other ancillary buildings. Ore hearth smelt mills have existed in and near all the lead mining fields of England, though late 18th and 19th century examples were virtually confined to the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards (and surviving evidence is strongly concentrated in North Yorkshire). It is believed that several hundred examples existed nationally. The sample identified as meriting protection includes: all sites with surviving evidence of hearths; sites with intact slag tips of importance for understanding the development of smelting technology; all 16th- 17th century sites with appreciable standing structural remains; 16th-17th century sites with well preserved earthwork remains; and a more selective sample of 18th and 19th century sites to include the best surviving evidence for smelt mill structures, and flue/condenser/chimney systems.

Providence smelt mill is thought to be the best preserved small single-hearth smelt mill in the region, and represents a most unusual survival nationally. The simple structure and small size of the mill, together with the remote and undisturbed nature of the site, mean the survival of well preserved archaeological remains in a compact area. The mill is further distinguished by atypical features such as the short flue, and the arch which carries it over a trackway. The remains of the smelt mill building and the earthworks to its west will retain important technological information on 18th century small-scale lead smelting, the provision of power to the site, and the transportion of processed lead from it, while nearby deposits of slag and ore processing wastes will provide additional information on the efficiency of extraction. The Greenhow area in which the monument lies is a landscape rich in the remains of the lead mining industry from all periods, and the monument contributes toward our understanding of this complex mining landscape.


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


The monument lies on the north bank of the Brandstone Beck, approximately 250m NNE of the Cock Hill and Sunnyside lead mines. It includes the ruined structures, earthworks and buried remains of a small single ore-hearth smelt mill. The smelt mill building, situated immediately north of a modern trackway, is 9m by 11m, with walls standing to 1.8m in places. An internal wall with two narrow archways, one blocked, divides the structure into chambers interpreted as ore store and ore hearth. A flue extending from the north wall of the smelt mill was formerly carried over a trackway by an arch, and still runs from the smelt mill veering slightly to the east, for 20m. Masonry throughout is plain and functional, consisting of roughly dressed and coursed sandstone. Earthworks surviving to a height of 0.3m immediately west of the smelt mill indicate the presence of a further chamber. One slag heap remains to the south west of the mill. This and other deposits of process residues will retain technological information about lead smelting and are thus included in the scheduling. Buried features such as dressing floors will also survive in the vicinity. The smelt mill was built in the 1780s by the White family, who owned several small mines, and the 1854 Ordnance Survey map of the area shows the mill intact at this date.

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: 30937

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Clough, R T, Lead Smelting Mills of the Yorkshire Dales and Northern Pennines, (1980), 66-7
RCHM, , Recording Historic Buildings: A Descriptive Specification, (1991)
Dickinson, J M, Gill, M C , 'British Mining No.21' in The Greenhow Mining Field: An Historical Survey, , Vol. 21, (1983), 112

End of official listing