Dale Head copper mine dressing floors and associated buildings 400m north of Dale Head


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019942

Date first listed: 25-Jun-2001


Ordnance survey map of Dale Head copper mine dressing floors and associated buildings 400m north of Dale Head
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Above Derwent

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 22207 15709


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

Reasons for Designation

Copper was extracted in Britain intermittently from the Early Bronze Age (about 2000 BC) until the early 20th century, after when the industry was confined to by-product production and small scale reworkings of mines and dumps. There is very limited evidence for copper mining before the 15th and 16th centuries, and most known sites are of later date, principally of the industry's 18th and 19th century peak after it had been revitalised by developments in smelting technology. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as perhaps it had also been in prehistory, British production was important on a European scale. Nucleated copper mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by copper 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 and power transmission features such as wheel pits and leats. The majority of nucleated copper mines are of 18th to 20th century date, earlier mining being normally by rakes, opencuts and open levels, and including scattered ore dressing features. An essential part of a copper mining site is the 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 can be summarised as: picking out clean lumps of ore and waste; hammering (breaking down lumps to a smaller size by manual hammering or by mechanical crushing); jigging (separation of gravel-sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water; and buddling (separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water). Field remains of ore works include crushing devices, separating structures and tanks and tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supplies. Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the large majority date from the 18th to 20th centuries, when technology evolved rapidly. During English Heritage's national evaluation of the copper industry, 130 sites were assessed. This is a highly select sample of the numbers of sites that historically existed in England; although there are no national estimates, for the south west alone an estimate has been made of over 10,000 sites. It is considered that protection by scheduling is appropriate for less than 50, with alternative means of protection or management being considered more appropriate for the other nationally important sites.

Dale Head copper mine dressing floors and associated buildings 400m north of Dale Head survive well and are a rare example of an 18th century copper ore dressing site which has remained untouched since abandonment. As such it offers an exceptionally good opportunity to study 18th century copper dressing processes.


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


The monument includes an area of dressing floors together with the remains of two structures, a prospecting trench and a prospecting pit associated with Dale Head copper mines. It is located on relatively gently-sloping ground high on the fellside above the Newlands Valley below and immediately north west of Dale Head Crags. Copper is known to have been mined in the Newlands Valley during the 16th century when many mines in the Keswick area were worked by the Mines Royal Company who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, were leaders in European mining technology. However, it is not known if Dale Head was one of those mines worked during this period. It is thought that Dale Head mine was being worked in about 1700 by one Thomas Robinson and that Cornish mining engineers were employed here around 1775. There are no records of any mining at Dale Head from the 19th century onwards. Remains of a two-roomed stone building up to 1.5m high with an annexe attached to its south side lie at NY22211567. This building has an entrance on its western side and contains in situ internal fireplace uprights. It has been variously described as a smithy, a mine shop or a store. To the north of the building lies a large area of dressing waste consisting of numerous low mounds of gravel-sized waste spotted with the copper ore malachite. Amongst this dressing waste, a short distance north west of the building, there are the remains of a roughly rectangular drystone structure with a paved floor which is considered to be a sheltered hand-dressing floor. A stone mortar or anvil for hand-crushing the copper ore was found amongst the stones which had formed part of the protecting wall of the dressing floor. This mortar was removed by a local mining history society during the 1990s. A short distance below the ore-dressing area there is a short prospecting trench dug into the surface of the hillslope while close to the path leading up from the valley there is a prospecting pit.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 34951

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Adams, J, Mines of the Lake District Fells, (1995), 67
'Cumbria Amenity Mining History Soc' in Dale Head Mine, (1995)

End of official listing