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
Lead rakes are linear mining features along the outcrop of a lead vein
resulting from the extraction of relatively shallow ore. They can be broadly
divided between: rakes consisting of continuous rock-cut clefts; rakes
consisting of lines of interconnecting or closely-spaced shafts with
associated spoil tips and other features; and rakes whose surface features
were predominantly produced by reprocessing of earlier waste tips (normally in
the 19th century). In addition, some sites contain associated features such as
coes (miners' huts), gin circles (the circular track used by a horse operating
simple winding or pumping machinery), and small-scale ore-dressing areas and
structures, often marked by tips of dressing waste.
The majority of rake workings are believed to be of 16th-18th century date,
but earlier examples are likely to exist, and mining by rock-cut cleft has
again become common in the 20th century. Rakes are the main field monuments
produced by the earlier and technologically simpler phases of lead mining.
They are very common in Derbyshire, where they illustrate the character of
mining dominated by regionally distinctive Mining Laws, and moderately common
in the Pennine and Mendip orefields; they are rare in other lead mining areas.
A sample of the better preserved examples from each region, illustrating the
typological range, will merit protection.
The Northern Dale lead mines incorporate a wide variety of well preserved
remains. The monument is particularly significant for its technological
remains; offering much information on methods of extraction, drainage and
processing. The soughs and mines have a wide chronological and technological
range, with features dating from at least 1635 and suggestions of Roman or
mediaeval antecedants. Engine shafts, and a well-preserved dressing complex
with intact buddles and distinctive water mangement features, provide
additional information for the operation and development of the mines.
Intensive multi-period workings will illustrate the relationships between
mining features, and also between the mines and the agricultural landscape.
The monument's importance is further enhanced by the proximity of the Mount
Pleasant lead mines, which lie to the west of the Northern Dale mines and are
the subject of a separate scheduling. As a group these sites are considered
to be complementary elements of an extensive landscape of mining remains, and
will add significantly to our knowledge of lead mining in the Derbyshire
The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of the
Northern Dale lead mines, an area of multi-period lead mining, including
several well-documented mines. It lies within two separate areas of
protection. Some of the mining features are amongst the earliest and most
distinctive in the Derbyshire orefield, whilst others offer well-preserved
examples of once-typical features.
The southernmost area of protection occupies a small area west of the Ash
Plantation. The varied remains of a discrete mining and ore processing
complex are exceptionally well-preserved here. The economical use of water is
particularly notable, with the operating sequence evidently laid out to
maximise the use of water from a limited source. From a shaft in the southern
part of the site with an associated gin circle (where horsepower drove
winding or drainage mechanisms) a narrow water channel (partly stone-lined)
runs southwards and downhill. Heaps of dressing spoil are visible on each
side of the channel, and to its east earthworks by a small shaft indicate the
site of overgrown dressing areas. The channel runs between further shafts,
one with a collapsed coe or storage building at its head, to two rectangular
stone-lined buddles. The buddles, tilted troughs where water was used to
separate lead from other minerals, are well-preserved, and in one the tip of
the incoming water channel survives in situ. To their north is a ruined
building. Further north of this is a large heap of dressing spoil, beyond
which is a hillock of truncated conical form, to a height of 2.5m. The
hillock is evidently artificial and its flat surface is thought to represent
an infilled tailings dam, where fine waste was deposited to minimise
pollution of water sources.
To the north of Ash Plantation lies the much larger northernmost area of
protection, which includes very intensive lead workings of varied form. Most
apparent are well-preserved shafts, rakes and opencuts of varying size.
Earlier features are often cut by later ones; for instance opencuts are
overlain by shaft mounds, and clusters of small scale workings with broad
accumulations of spoil are cut by larger shafts, illustrating the progression
of mining techniques. The southern part of this area is characterised by deep
shafts and shallow earthworks. Some shafts enter Tearsall pipe caverns, from
which water was pumped into nearby buddles. Evidence of this and other
dressing areas, along with spoil heaps and building remains, are thought to
be preserved as buried features in this heavily worked area. Included within
the scheduling is the Dale Field Engine Shaft, where documentary records
indicate that a Newcomen engine (an early steam engine) was sited in 1744.
A particularly large shaft mound at NGR SK 2658160343 in the south western
part of the site overlies the ridge and furrow ploughing associated with
medieval agriculture. It is also close to a series of shallow rakes
representing an earlier mining period. This well-preserved sequence of land
uses demonstrates relationships between components of the mining and
pre-industrial landscape. The eastern corner of the site includes Northern
Dale lead mines. Within the steep sided limestone valley early mine entrances
are evident in this area.
The Lords and Ladies mine includes narrow workings along a flat vein in reef
limestone, demonstrating technological responses to problems of local
geology. In addition, the Tearsall sough or drainage tunnel, dating from
1635, is the second oldest in Derbyshire and contributes further to the
considerable technological content of the Northern Dale mines.
All modern boundary walls and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.