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. The ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were separated (`dressed') to form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller size (either by manual hammering or by mechanical crushing); sorting of broken material by size; separation of gravel sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water (`jigging'); and separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water ('buddling'). The field remains of ore works include the remains of crushing devices, separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses. Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly. Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved
sites (covering the regional, chronological, and typological variety of the class) will merit protection.
A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their distribution is largely restricted to north eastern England, the Borders and southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures. Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlement recorded in the area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time. Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common. Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were preceded by timber palisades.
Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving examples are believed to be nationally important.
The remains of Eldon Hill crushing circle and associated lead mining remains are rare, particularly well preserved and include a diverse range of components relating to the mining of Burning Drake vein. The standing, earthwork and buried remains provide evidence for both the historical and technological development of what was once a far more extensive, multi-period mining landscape. They incorporate a range of processing and mining features, which enable the development of the mine working and its chronological range to be reconstructed. The shafts, hillocks and other extraction features provide evidence for methods of extraction whilst the processing areas contain deposits showing the effectiveness of these techniques. The mining remains also provide an insight into the Derbyshire Barmote Court system of mining and the constraints this imposed on the miners of the area.
The palisaded enclosure on Eldon Hill is part of a small, but particularly important resource for this class of monument during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in this region. The enclosure survives in excellent condition and clearly retains important archaeological information both within and beneath its defensive works. Undisturbed archaeological remains within the enclosure will provide a valuable insight into small-scale settlement and agriculture during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.
The monument includes the earthwork, buried, standing and rock cut remains of Eldon Hill crushing circle and associated lead mining remains and a Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age palisaded hilltop enclosure. The monument is located on the brow and southern slopes of Eldon Hill approximately 470m above sea level.
The lead working remains are located on a vein of lead ore known as Burning Drake Vein. The vein occurs in the Bee Low Limestone and runs across the summit of Eldon Hill in a north east to south west alignment, close to the southern boundary of Eldon Hill Quarries.
It is unclear when the site was first worked but the crushing circle (an area where ore was crushed ready for further treatment) is believed to be 18th century in origin. The vein would have been worked under the jurisdiction of the Barmote Courts, the legal administrative unit governing Derbyshire lead mining. The Derbyshire system of mining was largely based on local mining customs and consisted of individual groups of miners or small mining companies working from shafts sunk along the vein.
The monument survives as a series of earthwork, buried and standing remains which are enclosed within a belland yard wall (a wall built around dressing floors to prevent cattle straying and eating grass contaminated by lead). The crushing circle is located at grid reference SK11828115 and is supported on its southern, lower side by a drystone wall. The wall appears to be made up of limestone deads (waste rock which contain no ore or not in sufficient quantities to warrant extraction). The circle is well preserved with surviving paving around the circumference and part of the edge runner stone in the centre of the circle. The circle is approximately 7m in diameter with the remnant of the edge runner stone approximately 17m in diameter. Approximately 17.5m either side of the crushing circle are the remains of shafts. These are linked to both ends of the monument by open cuts (veins worked open to daylight) and small hillocks (mounds of waste rock). Abutting the western edge of the belland yard wall are the remains of a small, almost square coe (a stone-built shelter or shed) which contains the remains of a fireplace and chimney flue.
The palisaded enclosure lies on a gently sloping shelf to the south of the summit of Eldon Hill. The southern extremities of the enclosure extend beyond the shelf, and the ground slopes more noticeably within this area. The monument's hillside location commands extensive views to the south and west. The enclosure forms an irregular `D' shape and is defined by a clearly visible stony bank. The enclosure bank varies in size and is narrowest on the eastern side, measuring between 2m and 2.5m wide and up to 0.3m in height. On its southern side the enclosure bank measures up to 4m in width and stands 0.6m high in places. The northern and western parts of the enclosure bank appear to have been created by digging into the natural upslope of Eldon Hill. A break in the centre of the southern side of the enclosure bank is indicative of an entrance. A second entrance may exist in the south west corner, although it is likely that this is a more recent footpath or cattle trod. The ground surface within the enclosure is uneven in places, indicating the likely presence of hut circles or other occupation remains. No specific features have been identified within the enclosure and a detailed metrical and/or geophysics survey is required before such features can be properly identified.
The enclosure is comparable to several other enclosures found upon the limestone plateau, most of which are situated on similar false crest, or plateau locations. The form and location of the enclosure indicates that it was used for corralling stock and may also have comprised a small settlement. The enclosure bank is thought to have housed a palisade for enclosing stock and protecting them from wild animals. Known surviving examples of palisaded hilltop enclosures are situated on marginal land that has never been ploughed and may represent only a tiny fraction of those sites existing in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.
A lead rake runs east to west across the northern part of the enclosure and physically links the palisaded enclosure to the post-medieval lead mining remains. The belland yard wall surrounding the crushing circle and associated lead working remains sits on top of the north eastern corner of the enclosure.
Book Reference - Title: Eldon Hill Crushing Circle - Type: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH - Description: RCHME NGR ref.SK1180/6 frame no.63
Book Reference - Title: Photograph from run 71.438 - Date: 1971 - Page References: 131 - Type: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH - Description: Peak National Park AP collection
Book Reference - Author: Bevan, B - Title: DAAC Romano-British settlement survey - Date: 2000 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Proforma from survey archive
Book Reference - Author: Bevan, B - Title: DAAC Romano-British settlement survey - Date: 2000 - Type: PLAN: SKETCH - Description: Vol. 3 illustration 11
Book Reference - Author: Butcher, L - Title: Butcher survey project archive - Type: PLAN: SKETCH - Description: Archives stored with Peak District NP
Book Reference - Author: Hart, C.R. - Title: The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 - Date: 1981 - Page References: 77 - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Heathcote, C - Title: Burning Drake Lead Mine Eldon Hill, Peak Forest, Derbyshire - Date: 1996 - Type: PLAN: MEASURED
Book Reference - Author: Rieuwerts, J. - Title: The Eldon Hill, Slitherstone and Linacre mines - Type: DESC TEXT