Copper mine and medieval ridge and furrow north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020403

Date first listed: 07-Mar-2002


Ordnance survey map of Copper mine and medieval ridge and furrow north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Richmondshire (District Authority)

Parish: Middleton Tyas

National Grid Reference: NZ 23313 05608, NZ 23413 05794


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. 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. In the medieval period settlements were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as landes) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges. The resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or landes were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. The Middleton Tyas copper mines survive well and important evidence of the extraction processes will survive. The remains of the engine house complex retains important evidence of early steam powered engines and will contribute to the wider understanding of the development of the technology. The ridge and furrow surviving within the industrial remains also survives well and is evidence of changing land use over time.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of copper mines and the standing ruins and buried remains of an 18th century engine house located to the north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church. Also included are areas of medieval ridge and furrow lying within the area of industrial remains. The monument lies to the south east of the village of Middleton Tyas. The monument is in two areas of protection. One includes part of the woodland to the east of the church, where the remains of the engine house are located, and the bulk of the field to the north of the church which contains remains of mines and ridge and furrow. The second area lies in the fields to the north west of the church and contains remains of the mines and a spoil tip as well as further areas of ridge and furrow. Copper has been extracted in the Richmond region since the 15th century; a charter of Edward IV in 1454 refers to a `copper mine of Richmond'. This area lies to the east of the Swaledale Mineral Belt in the north eastern part of Northern Pennine Orefield. The copper deposits at Middleton Tyas were some of the highest grade ore in Europe, although the amount was small. The first copper at Middleton Tyas was discovered in a quarry in c.1733. Trials in 1736 and 1738 were unsuccessful but profitable workings had been established by 1742 on land belonging to Lady d'Arcy. Further deposits were soon being exploited on neighbouring land by the Hartley family and by the Rev'd Tissington. Despite the close proximity of their different workings there was great rivalry between the owners, which is attested to in documents of the period. The mines at Middleton Tyas suffered from extensive flooding and this was initially dealt with by using hand pumps. By 1752 the inadequacy of this method was apparent and by November of that year at least two pumping engines powered by horses were in use. These too proved unequal to the task and in 1753 two steam powered, coal fired, pumping engines were under construction. One of these built by the Rev'd Tissington was of the Newcomen type and remains of the engine house for this survive to the east of the church. In 1755 there was a further advance in the pumping technique when ropes were replaced by slide rods. These were able to transmit motive power uphill over a distance of 200m. This more efficient pumping made it possible to reach the under-bed of the ore and consequently output increased. By 1763 the recoverable ore at Middleton Tyas was virtually exhausted and mining appears to have ceased by 1779. The copper ore at Middleton Tyas was found in three major veins crossing through the area of the monument. Two of these extended north west, past the church, from Kirk Beck and the third lay square to these and extended north east to the east of Layberry Plantation. The mining activity was concentrated along the lines of these veins. The areas of mining survive as circular mounds of earth, known as shaft mounds, surrounding a central hollow. These are formed by spoil from the excavation of shafts sunk into the ore bearing rock dumped around the shaft head. Some of the shafts were linked together by underground galleries, which followed the veins of ore and acted as drainage levels. The mounds are up to 8m in diameter and 2.3m in height. There are over 30 such shaft mounds within the area of the monument the majority being clustered into widely spaced groups located along the line of the veins. The largest group contains seven mounds and is located to the east of Layberry Plantation centred on NGR NZ23400580. Other groups of mounds are located at NGRs NZ23250576, NZ23450570 and NZ23350563. Further individual shaft mounds are also located within the woodland to the east of the church. The spoil tip is located in the western part of the monument at NGR NZ23300564. It survives as a long low mound measuring 70m north to south by 40m east to west and stands 2.5m high. It was formed from the spoil and waste material produced from the wider mining procesess as opposed to the shaft mounds which were created from the excavation of the individual shafts. The remains of the engine house are located on the flat ground at the base of the slope to the east of the church. The engine house lies at the northern side of a complex of ruined buildings, which are also thought to have included a boiler house, fuel store, offices and stores. The walls of the buildings survive to a height of up to 1.6m. The power from the engine was transferred uphill to the north west, to the shafts to the north of the church. Initially ropes were used but these were replaced by metal slide rods which represented the final development of the pumping. The slide rods were supported by 25 cylindrical rollers which allowed the rods to move easily with the minimum of friction. Remains of the rollers and their supports will survive in the woodland. Access to the engine house was provided by a track curving down the slope from the north west. Where the track extends down the slope it is revetted on each side with stone and in places runs through a cutting constructed to reduce the gradient and to allow the rod-way to pass over it unhindered. The ridge and furrow survives in the open land throughout the monument. It includes substantial blocks of rounded parallel ridges up to 8m wide and 0.4m high. These are separated by furrows up to 4m wide. In the area to the east the ridge and furrow extends west to east down the slope. In this area it is overlain by remains of field boundaries associated with the post-medieval parliamentary enclosure which survive as banks and ditches. In the western area the ridge and furrow is orientated north to south and extends beyond the area of the monument. The ridge and furrow is the remnant of the agricultural regime associated with the settlement of Middleton Tyas. Its origins date to the medieval period and it is known that it was in use up to the establishment of the copper mining. There are further isolated shaft mounds located in surrounding fields and woods which are not included in the monument. The copper extracted was processed at mills in the area. The precise location and nature of survival of these is currently unknown. All fences, gates and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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: 34826

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Abramson, P, An Archaeological Assessment and Field Survey.. Burial Ground, (1996)
Hornshaw, T R, Copper Mining in Middleton Tyas, (1975)
Hornshaw, T R, Copper Mining in Middleton Tyas, (1975)

End of official listing