Northern Dale lead mines


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Northern Dale lead mines
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)
South Darley
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 26710 60022, SK 26760 60513

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. 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 orefield.


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.

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:


Rieuwerts, Dr J , The Northern Dale Mines, 1987, Report for Peak National Park
Suggestions re schedulings in area, Smith, K, South Darley, (1989)
Willies, L, The Northern Dale Proposed Scheduling Area, 1997, Letter about features in area


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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