Haltcliffe copper smelter and associated leat immediately east of High Wath Ford


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019957

Date first listed: 25-Jun-2001


Ordnance survey map of Haltcliffe copper smelter and associated leat immediately east of High Wath Ford
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 09:49:10.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Caldbeck

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 35116 35049


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 early 19th centuries, as perhaps it had also been in prehistory, British production was important on a European scale. The smelting of copper to produce pure metal was a complex process involving prolonged and repeated roasting (heating without melting) before the roasted ore was broken up and melted to form a matte (a solid mass of copper and iron sulphides). This was followed by further roastings and remelting to refine the metal. Due to the multiple processes, the consumption of fuel was great, and smelting has typically been located close to fuel sources rather than to the mines. The use of the reverbatory furnace was developed in the late 17th century and dominated copper smelting from that date. Early reverbatory furnaces consisted simply of a barn-like building containing the furnaces, with chimneys projecting from the outer wall. The late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often larger complexes containing several smelting furnaces and roasting furnaces for preparing the ore, together with systems of flues, condensors and chimneys for pollution control and the recovery of sulphur. 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.

Despite demolition of all buildings, the site of Haltcliffe copper smelter and its associated leat, wheelpit, slag debris, spoil heaps and dressing waste survives reasonably well. The monument is a rare example of a 19th century copper smelter in north west England, and together with buried remains of the smelting house and associated features it also retains abundant copper processing residues which contain significant technological information.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Haltcliffe 19th century copper smelter and an associated leat east of High Wath Ford. It is located on the southern side of Carrock Beck and includes a leat, wheelpit, slag debris, spoil heaps, dressing waste and the buried remains of the smelting house. The precise dates when the smelter was built and when it ceased working are unknown; it is known to have been in use in 1866, however, it was not shown on maps of 1900 which suggest that it had been demolished by this date. Recent analysis of minerals found here indicate that the smelter served both the nearby Carrock End and Carrock Fell mines. A leat, which provided water power for the reprocessing of slags, survives as a narrow channel commencing a short distance downstream of High Wath Ford. This leat runs east for approximately 150m before terminating immediately above the narrow flood plain of Carrock Beck. At this point a gorse-filled hollow is considered to represent a wheelpit which housed the waterwheel used to power machinery at the smelter. On the beck's flood plain there are numerous features including traces of a short section of cobbled road or floor, areas of slag debris from the smelting process, and remains of a stone wall dividing two large areas of slag. A number of mounds and hollows at the southern edge of the flood plain represent a combination of spoil heaps and dumps of brick and slate from demolished buildings. Examination of the slag debris reveals that two of the areas of debris are heavily mineralised whilst two other areas show little, if any, mineralisation, indicating that varied smelting processes have taken place here.

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: 34956

Legacy System: RSM


Savage,K., Some Notes on the Haltcliffe Smelter,

End of official listing