Stony Grooves and Merryfield Hole lead mines


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Stony Grooves and Merryfield Hole lead mines
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
Stonebeck Down
National Grid Reference:
SE 09520 66784, SE 09705 66732, SE 09762 66695, SE 09812 66672, SE 09865 66639, SE 09913 66617, SE 09916 66407, SE 09951 66599, SE 10172 66585

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.

The lead mining remains at Stony Grooves and Merryfield Hole survive particularly well and include an important documented survival of medieval openworking. They provide evidence for the transition from mining based on regularly spaced simple shafts sunk directly on to the vein to the later capital intensive mines based on centralised shaftheads and deep levels. The design of the dressing floors, at Lower Stony Grooves in particular, reflect the trend towards efficiency and capacity in the 19th century industry, though the high quality of the masonry construction is believed to be uncommon. They also include the well preserved remains of bouse teams (wash kilns), the design of which is uncommon nationally, and allowed the ore to be washed within the individual ore bins prior to dressing. The dressing floors also include a round buddle considered to be the only known example of its type in the Greenhow mining district. In addition, important buried features will survive, particularly at Upper Stony Grooves and Merryfield Hole, providing information on the early dressing activities that occurred in these areas.


The monument is situated within unenclosed moorland, on either side of Ashfold Side Beck, 2km west of Merryfield Hall. Falling within nine areas of protection, the monument includes the ruins, earthworks and buried remains of the Upper and Lower Stony Grooves and Merryfield Hole lead mines and part of an associated water supply system. The Ashfold Side Beck marks the ancient boundary between two mineral royalties, and this is reflected in the early development of the lead mines. Documentary sources indicate that the Merryfield Hole area, on the north side of the Beck, was known as Hirefeldberg mine, and was mined by Bylands Abbey from the 13th century into the 16th century. Mining of this period is believed to have taken the form of surface extraction which is represented by distinctive hushed opencut workings at Merryfield Hole. The mines continued to be worked on an intermittent basis until closure in the later 19th century. In the last years of mining at Merryfield Hole, the mine was combined with Stony Grooves mine and worked as a single venture. The Stony Grooves mines, on the south side of the Beck, are first mentioned in 1705 but were well established by that date. This period of mining involved the sinking of regularly spaced shallow shafts and small opencuts along the uppermost part of the vein. Advances in mining technology led to the concentration of the mines around single shaftheads in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and to the introduction of steam power in the later 19th century. The leases were worked in tandem by a series of independent partnerships during the 19th century, until the increasing cost of draining the lower levels led to final closure in 1889. In the western part of the site, situated on the south side of the Beck and within a separate area of protection, are the ruins and earthwork remains of the Upper Stony Grooves mines. Three phases of mining are represented here, from opencut working directly on the vein, to regularly spaced shallow shafts sunk along the uppermost part of the vein, and the later concentration of the mine based on a single shafthead. The opencuts consist of shallow surface workings, spoil tips, and include the remains of small huts. These workings are relatively primitive and are likely to represent the earliest workings of the Stony Grooves mines. Lower parts of the vein were then worked from a series of small shallow shafts, including small areas of opencutting, running from the west end of Upper Stony Grooves eastwards to the Lower Stony Grooves mine. These six shaftheads are each included in the scheduling as separate areas of protection orientated in a line from north west to south east. The final phase of mining at the Upper site saw the concentration of workings based around a single shafthead. Remains of machine settings and a bob-pit (a pit housing a balance-bob to counter the great weight of pump rods) on the south side of the shaft indicate the former location of a small steam engine. Water for the boiler is likely to have been supplied from a small dam to the south west which is also included in the scheduling. The well preserved remains of four bouse teams (wash kilns) lie immediately to the east and form one side of an enclosed yard area. The bouse teams were used to separate the ore between partnerships prior to dressing. The Lower Stony Grooves mine, situated on the south side of the Beck, at the eastern end of the site and within a separate area of protection, consists largely of a 19th century dressing floor, centralised shafthead arrangement, and a large dam. The design of the dressing floors is typical of the increasing concern for efficiency within the 19th century lead industry, though the high standard of its masonry construction is believed to be relatively uncommon. The first floor has two bouse teams, of identical design to those at Upper Stony Grooves, which received ore from the adjacent main shafthead. The second floor includes the remains of a waterwheel used for winding the shaft, and an adjacent area which housed a trommel (a set of rotating sieves for dividing the ore by size). The third floor included a central waterwheel for powering a crusher and a set of jiggers (mechanically operated sieving devices). The fourth and lowest floor was used to collect fines material (very small pieces of ore) and includes the well preserved remains of a centre head buddle, the only example known to have been built in the Greenhow mining district. Water for the dressing process and to power waterwheels was supplied from a pond, retained by a low earth bank with external drystone walls, situated on the south west side of the dressing floor. The water is likely to have been topped up from a more substantial reservoir, the dam of which is also included in the scheduling within a separate area of protection, situated 150m to the south on the Cranberry Gill. This dam consists of an earthen core with a substantial external stone wall. Merryfield Hole mine is situated on the north side of the Beck opposite the Lower Stony Grooves mine. The Hole itself is a hushed openpit (a large irregular excavation created at least in part by controlled torrents of water). Water was fed to the site from small dams at the head of the openpit. The central part of the site includes the ruins of a small late 19th century boiler house, chimney, and a small engine plinth situated above the principal shafthead of the later mine. A large waterwheel pit 50m to the south, now surviving as ruins, is thought to have powered the dressing floors for the mine. The floors will survive as buried deposits to the west and north west. All modern fence posts 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bird, R H, Yesterday's Golcondas, (1977), 108
Clough, R T, The Lead Smelting Mills of the Yorkshire Dales, (1980), 233
Raistrick, A, Lead Mining in the Mid Pennines, (1973), 13-49
Dickinson, J M, Gill, M C , 'British Mining No.21' in The Greenhow Mining Field: An Historical Survey, (1983), 65-72


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

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