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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 542
Date assigned Friday, March 22, 2013
Date last amended


SUMMARY OF MONUMENT c REASONS FOR DESIGNATIONI The mining remains at Carsington Pasture, Nickalum, Perserverance, West Head, Break Hollow and other small mines, which together provide evidence of multi-period mining activity dating to at least the medieval period, and the medieval field boundaries and ridge and furrow, are scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: it is well-preserved site displaying a diversity of both common and rare features; * Rarity: dating of mining sites is notoriously difficult but the palimpsest of archaeological features on Carsington Pasture provides the incredibly rare opportunity for relative dating and contributes significantly to the national importance of this particular site; * Diversity: the site retains a diverse range of features representing the complete extraction process. Such a range has the potential to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the full industry, the methods used, the chronological depth of the site and the place it held in the wider economic and social landscape; * Documentary Evidence: the historical context of mining on Carsington Pasture is provided by mining records dating from the mid-C15 to the mid-C18. This is further enhanced by the unique socio-economic perspective offered by Daniel Defoe's writing in the mid-C18; * Group Value: the clustering of mine complexes within the monument adds group value and enhances the national importance of this site. The sum of the whole is even more significant than the individual components and provides an example of what was once a far more extensive, multi-period and regionally distinct mining landscape. The group value of the site is further enhanced by the association with other designated and undesignated archaeological features lying within and around the mining remains; * Potential: the diverse range of components represented by the mining remains on Carsington Pasture have the potential to explain the development of the mine working and its chronological range, as well as contribute to the understanding of the historical and technological development of lead mining in Derbyshire. HISTORY Lead mining in Derbyshire may have begun as early as the Late Bronze Age but archaeological evidence of early mining is elusive primarily because the later working of mines often obliterates the evidence of earlier activity. 'Lead works' were mentioned in the Domesday Survey but it is not clear if this meant mining. There is documentary evidence of mining at Nestus, Matlock Bath in C14 and there are also many Bole Hills (a primitive smelting furnace) in the area with abundant slag remains where lead was smelted. Two major pieces of evidence dating from the medieval period are of fundamental importance; the earliest written laws of lead mining from the Ashbourne Inquisition of 1288 and the carving of a medieval miner in Wirksworth church (moved from Bonsall church in C19), which is probably even earlier. In the Middle Ages a royalty of a thirteenth of all ore mined (known as a 'lot') was paid to the Crown and a tenth (or 'tithe') was claimed by the church. The Peak was a free mining area with wide and unusual privileges and the 'free' miners were allowed to work by very liberal laws which enabled them to search for lead ore in the 'liberties'; anywhere but churchyards, gardens, orchards and highways. The miners had right of access, water and space to both mine and dump their waste without regard to the land users or owners wishes. To control mining, mineral courts were set up with a Steward and Barmaster, representing the Duchies, including Devonshire, Rutland, and Lancaster, and other landowners as lords of their own liberties, as well as a Grand Jury of 24 men (12 since 1851-52) appointed for six months to control each of the different areas. The laws grew in complexity through time and were not fully listed until the mid-C17 when Thomas Manlove, a Barmoot Steward, wrote them down 'in metre'. The mining laws were formalised in 1851-52. The court still sits today, made up of men who have a wide knowledge of the miners and mining field. During the C12 and C14 documentary sources provide evidence of 11 and possibly 12 mining sites of one or more workings in Derbyshire; most if not all would have been worked opencast (veins which were worked from the surface to a depth of c30-40 feet). The development of the ore field after c1450 was governed by a number of factors including the miners’ ability to work the ore. The miners themselves had a progressively improved understanding of the nature and location of ore-bearing beds from the medieval period, but by the mid-C18 mine agents and overseers rather than miners had acquired enhanced geological knowledge. The evidence for mining during the C15 and C16 comes primarily from the written versions of the laws and customs existing between 1288 and 1525. The nature of wide and deep horizontal deposits was understood by the mid-C16, at which time meers (traditionally a linear measurement along a vein irrespective of its width or depth) began to be measured in squares. As knowledge of ore deposits increased many more mines were worked; 64 are individually named but many groups of miners could be at work along a single vein. Technological development moved apace with the first evidence of firing rock underground, drainage using horse-powered pumps (c1579-1581) and a long drainage adit all appearing in contemporary documentation. The C17 witnessed rapid expansion in both geological knowledge and technical advance. Improvements in smelting technology during the last quarter of the C16 allowed smaller size ore to be smelted in the new ore-hearth furnaces. As a consequence many large-scale opencast mines were worked. The use of gunpowder blasting for rock breakage from the C17 exploited mines to a greater depth, requiring more efficient ventilation by sinking air shafts at regular intervals into deeper workings and soughs. Technological advancement continued in the C18; by the end of the century shafts were in excess of 900ft deep. The first Newcomen engine was installed between 1716 and 1719 and a 40ft diameter water wheel was recorded in 1747. Haulage was also transformed in the C18; boxes carried by boys were gradually superseded by the introduction of small, plain wheeled wagons running along two parallel planks. Haulage to the surface continued to use traditional stows (a wooden windlass used for winding materials and water) although horse gins were also in use in most medium to large mines. Longer, deep level soughs and deeper mine workings demanded improved methods of ventilation. In the C19 profitable sources of ore became scarce and increased competition from other ore fields led to a decline in the importance of, and production at, the Peak District mines. With the exception of Millclose Mine at Darley Bridge, which worked until 1939, little profitable mining was carried out from the beginning of the C20 onwards. From the early C20 to the present, lead mining sites have been extensively reworked for minerals originally discarded by the lead miners. Those of economic worth are primarily fluorspar, barites and calcite, while lead ore is still a valuable by-product. The origins of lead mining on Carsington Pasture and around Brassington has been the subject of much debate with the suggestion made that the mining activity here dates at least to the Roman period (Ford and Rieuwerts 2000; Willies 1995). This dating has now been challenged (Barnatt and Smith, 2004) although more conclusive evidence relating to lead smelting during the Roman period was uncovered during pre-construction work at Carsington Reservoir which lies approximately 1.5km south of the pasture. Willies (1995) speculated that the configuration of two ancient route ways which pass across Carsington Pasture link the pasture with the Roman Settlement at Buxton and the Roman fort at Navio (Brough near Bradwell) and would have provided the necessary infrastructure for the lead industry. Documentary evidence, which is known to have been written no later than 1467, lists meers in the Low Peak, owned by Sir Henry Sacheverall and others and includes land in the lordship of Carsington, with mines at 'Flelowe' known to have been on Carsington Pasture. Also, various C16 documents make reference to mines in this area but are difficult to locate precisely. By the mid-C17 one third of the population in Brassington and Carsington were miners; the Barmaster then was Henry Travis who held office from 1639-1650. The records referring to Brassington and Carsington in the later half of the C17 are few and disjointed, but still document the working of mines in this area. A rare survival of a Stewards Book of Record contains a detailed account of cases heard in the Wirksworth Barmote Court between 1702 and 1749. The book includes much information about the Carsington and Brassington mines. Thirteen rakes, mines and shafts were investigated by the Barmote Jury, the detail of which is eloquently summarised by Rieuwerts (2012, p79-82). Although mining continued in the area through the late C19 and early C20, it was primarily for barite, however seven mines were still producing very small amounts of lead ore in the early years of the C20. An interesting and enlightening description of the conditions and life of a lead miner on Carsington Pasture comes from Daniel Defoe in 1725-6. Defoe, during his 'Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain,' rides out from Wirksworth towards Brassington Moor, where he encounters a Miner family living in 'natural openings in the rock' (understood to be Carsington Pasture cave which lies just outside the scheduled area c300m south of Perseverance mine). On meeting the wife and five children of one miner, Defoe describes the woman; 'the good woman did not want manners, though she lived in a den like a wild body'. On entering the home Defoe describes 'a large hollow cave, which the poor people by two curtains hanged across, had parted into three rooms. On one side was the chimney……The habitation was poor, 'tis true, but things within did not look like misery as I expected. Everything was clean and neat, though mean and ordinary. There were shelves with earthen ware, and some pewter and brass. There was a whole flitch or side of bacon hanging up in the chimney, and by it a good piece of another….. To find out whence this appearance of substance came, I asked the poor woman, what trade her husband was? She said he worked in the lead mines.' Defoe and his party went 'by the direction of the poor woman, to a valley on the side of a rising hill, where there were several grooves, so they call the mouth of the shaft or pit by which they go down into a lead mine; and as we were standing still to look at one of them, admiring how small they were, and scarce believing a poor man that showed it us, when he told us, that they went down those narrow pits or holes to so great a depth in the earth; I say, while we were wondering, and scarce believing the face, we were agreeably surprised with seeing a hand, and then an arm, and quickly after a head, thrust up out of the very groove we were looking at. It was the most surprising as not we only, but not the man that we were talking to, knew anything of it or expected it……the man was a most uncouth spectacle; he was clothed all in leather, had a cap of the same without brims, some tools in a little basket…….he was lean as a skeleton, pale as a dead corpse, his hair and beard a deep black, his flesh lank, and , as we thought, something of the colour of the lead itself, and being very tall and very lean….'. DETAILS The monument includes the earthwork, buried and standing remains of a series of lead mines on Carsington Pasture and on land between the pasture and the village of Brassington (from here on called Carsington Pasture). Mining in this area of the ore field may date from the Roman period, although the most visible surface remains are likely to represent multiple phases of mining activity. The mining earthworks stand to varying heights, but survive up to 3m in many places. Also included are a series of linear, low banks and ditches which serve to enclose parcels of the landscape and represent a progressive sub-division of the pasture dating potentially from the medieval period. Carsington Pasture is an extensive tract of largely unimproved upland lying at the south margin of the Carboniferous Limestone plateau of the Peak District. The plateau lies between approximately 310m and 330m above Ordnance datum, while the scarp drops steeply to the south to 240-250m. This limestone scarp forms part of the southern end of the Pennine spine of England and the southern limit of the White Peak lead mining area. The mines lie within the Brassington and Carsington Liberties (the district within which the miners worked, governed by a set of laws and customs). Carsington Pasture is characterised by the remains of many rakes (a vertical fissure filled with lead ore and associated mineral waste material) and scrins (a minor form of a rake usually less than two feet wide) in the form of lines of grassed hillocks, with shaft hollows and many accessible but capped shafts. There are localised areas of more intense workings in the form of closely spaced hillocks and grassed hollows but not necessarily showing any particular form of alignment. One such concentration is at Brecklow mine (SK 2467854305) where the remains of two coes (a stone built shed, shelter or store) and belland yard (stone walls built around areas of working to prevent cattle from straying and eating grass contaminated by lead) survive as ruinous structures. One coe contained a covered climbing shaft, the other, larger coe until the early C21 retained a fireplace with chimney but the latter has collapsed but is still evident. Perseverance mine (SK 2440353920) is another concentration, here there is a large coe containing a shaft, a second coe, a stone-lined buddle (a basic feature used for separating small sized ore from adherent dirt by a means of a stream of water), a gin circle (a circular feature representing a horse powered winding apparatus), buddle dam and a settling pond. Flaxpiece Rake (SK 2475854032) is a linear row of well-defined earthwork hillocks leading down slope to the trackway on the southern side of the pasture. Here two small belland yards enclose a coe and settling pond. The coe covers a climbing shaft offering protection to the access. At Wester Head Mines (SK 2402754297) two coes have been recorded but numerous large shafts and hillocks also survive in the area. Towards the western extent of the monument a number of well defined features survive including a walled dressing floor with coe and walled pond (SK 2368553999), buddle dams and the remains of Nickalum mines. Much of the surface remains of Nickalum have been cleared in the early C21, but the ruined belland yard is still evident. Each concentration of features is interlinked by rows and groups of hillocks, shafts (mostly capped) and dressing areas representing the full process flow of extraction and dressing of minerals for the purpose of extracting lead ore. Other names of mines or rakes associated with the monument include Water Holes, Blazing Star Rake, Swang, Children's Fortune, Hard Holes, Stillingtons and Cow and Calf. Although there were a large number of mines they were each generally on a small scale, with individual meers often being given names for recording and management purposes. Names changed as ownership changed, however, and can lead to confusion in the documentary records. No systematic archaeological survey has been carried out underground within the scheduled area although the Wirksworth Mines Research Group has investigated and recorded over 250 shafts and bought this work together in advance of a planning proposal for four wind turbines on the northern half of the pasture (May 2006, unpublished). The report, although not intentionally archaeological in content, does indicate the level of survival beneath the ground and the potential for further archaeological investigative work. Graffiti, artefacts and phasing of some shafts have been documented. EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The monument is defined by two areas of protection; one on Carsington Pasture and the other on land between the pasture and the village of Brassington. Area of protection 01 This is the largest of the two areas and aims to protect the earthwork, standing, buried and rock-cut remains of lead mining, medieval field boundary banks and ridge and furrow. Given the open nature of the landscape, only part of the area of protection is defined by fixed points on the ground, the northern edge particularly is identified by a series of National Grid References.The constraint line begins at the southern-most tip of the area of protection at SK 2523353494. From here the line follows the field boundary to the north-east along the northern edge of Carsington Wood, before turning to the north-west, again following the field boundary which now seperates the parishes of Carsington and Hopton. It continues until it reaches SK2508354132, where it turns to the east, crossing the Pasture until it intercepts with a line of pylons at SK2471254156. Here the line turns to the north-west and continues in this direction before turning to the west around the northern edge of Break Hollow Mine, the line then continues west to SK2407754288. At this point it runs north along a field boundary, following it around to the north-west to SK2387754531 at which point the line cuts across the field to the south where it meets another field boundary. It then follows the boundary to the south to a boundary junction where it turns to the south-east and continues until it joins the corner of the field. The line follows the field boundary to the south to SK2396053946 where it turns to the south-west to follow another field boundary. From here the southern boundary of the monument is defined along the entire length by a field boundary passing along the base of the scarp and around the northern edge of the village of Carsington, until it meets with the southern-most tip of the area of protection. Area of Protection 02 This area of protection aims to protect the concentration of surviving earthwork, standing, buried and rock cut remains of lead mining, particularly centred at Nickalum mines, and medieval ridge and furrow. The area is defined by extant field boundaries on the east, south and west sides. The northern boundary starts at the northern end of Wester Lane at SK2390354165 from here the line runs to the north-west across the field to the south-east corner of a small enclosure where it skirts around the south and west side of the enclosure to meet a field boundary which it then follows to the west and then to the north. At the junction with another field boundary, the line follows it to the west for 38m before turning south to cut across the field for 86m to the northern edge of a rake working. The line then follows this edge of the rake to the south-west until it meets the eastern edge of the area of protection at SK 2349354164. Further lead mining remains lie outside both areas of protection but the main concentrations of surface remains are encompassed. Within these areas all modern field boundaries and signage are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Daniel Defoe - Title: A Tour Through The Whole Island Of Great Britain - Date: 1986 - Page References: 462-468 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J - Title: The Lead Mine Affected Landscape of the Peak District - Date: 1995 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Report commissioned by EH Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J and Smith, K. - Title: The Peak District - Date: 1997 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Barnatt, J - Title: Excavation and Conservation at How Grove, Dirtlow Rake, Castleton, Derbyshire - Date: 2002 - Journal Title: Mining History Book Reference - Author: Ford, T. D. and Rieuwerts, J. H (eds) - Title: Lead Mining in the Peak District - Date: 2000 Book Reference - Author: Willies, L and Parker, H. - Title: Peak District Mining and Quarrying - Date: 2004 Book Reference - Author: Rieuwerts, J.H - Title: Lead Mining in Derbyshire: History, Development and Drainage. Vol.2 Millers Dale to Alport and Dovedale - Date: 2008 Book Reference - Author: Rieuwerts, J. H - Title: Lead Mining in Derbyshire: History, Development and Drainage in 4 vols - Date: 2007 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J and Penny, R - Title: The Lead Legacy. The prospects for the Peak Districts Mining Heritage. - Date: 2004 Book Reference - Author: Rieuwerts,J.H. - Title: Lead Mining In Derbyshire: History, Development and Drainage. 4. The area south of the Via Gellia - Date: 2012 Unpublished Title Reference - Author: John Barnatt - Title: Lathkill Dale National Nature Reserve Archaeological Survey - Date: 2005 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J. Smith, K. - Title: The Peak District Landscapes Through Time - Date: 2004 Article Reference - Author: Barnatt, J - Title: High Rake Mine, Little Hucklow Derbyshire excavation and conservation at an important C19 mine. - Date: 2011 - Journal Title: Mining History Article Reference - Author: Barnatt, J Bevan, B. and Edmonds,M. - Title: Gardoms edge: a Landscape |Through time - Date: 2002 - Journal Title: Antiquity - Volume: 76 - Page References: 50-56 Book Reference - Author: Rieuwerts, J - Title: Lead Mining In Derbyshire:History, Development and Drainage - Date: 2010 Article Reference - Author: Willies, L - Title: Roads, Agricultural Features and Mines on Carsington Pasture - Date: 1995 - Journal Title: Bulletin of Peak Mines Historical Soc, 12 National Grid Reference: SK2461954034

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Sources (2)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2013. Scheduling Notification: Carsington Pasture, Nickalum, Perseverance, West Head, Break Hollow and other small mines and medieval field boundaries. List entry no. 1412922. SM Cat. No. 542.
  • Unpublished document: Brightman, J and T Sandiford (ARS Ltd). 2008. A Contour and Walkover Survey of Carsington Pasture, Derbyshire.



Grid reference Centred SK 2443 5401 (1898m by 1034m)
Map sheet SK25SW

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Dec 9 2020 9:03AM

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