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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 543
Date assigned Friday, March 22, 2013
Date last amended


SUMMARY OF MONUMENT A series of multi-phased lead mining remains dating from at least the mid-C16 to the mid-C19. REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture Mine, Bondog Hole Mine and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels, dating from at least the mid-C16 to the mid-C19, are scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: it is an exceptionally well-preserved site displaying a diversity of earlier surviving features, which are more often than not destroyed during later phases of mining activity; * 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 Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture Mine, Bondog Hole Mine and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels is provided by court records with more specific details presented by the C17 list of mines and the shares held in them by Sir Philip Gell and Francis Gell; * Group Value: the clustering of mine complexes at Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture Mine, Bondog Hole Mine and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels 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; * Potential: the diverse range of components represented has 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 as indicated by the discovery of lead artefacts at Mam Tor and Gardoms Edge, but no archaeological evidence for mining, ore processing or smelting at this time has been recorded (Barnatt, Bevan and Edmonds 2002). In the Roman period, the presence of a major national lead industry is attested both by classical references and by numerous finds of lead 'pigs' (ingots of smelted metal). The distribution and inscriptions of the pigs indicate production in the Mendips, South Shropshire, Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Pennines. The mines themselves are elusive as later mines have cut through the earlier shallow workings (Barnatt and Smith 2004, p49) and the range of mining and ore processing features on Roman sites cannot yet be specified. Medieval mining is almost equally elusive in the archaeological record. 'Lead works' were mentioned in the Domesday Survey but it is not clear if this meant mining or smelting. There is documentary evidence of mining at for example the Nestus mines, Matlock Bath and Tideslow Rake at Tideslow and there are also many Bole Hills (a primitive smelting furnace) in the area with vestiges of 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; work would have started as opencast (veins which were worked from the surface to a depth of c30-40 feet) and would eventually have gone further underground. In reality there were probably many more mines for which no documentation survives. The miners progressively improved their practical understanding of the nature and location of ore-bearing beds from the medieval period onwards, but by the mid-C18 mine agents and overseers rather than miners had acquired enhanced scientific 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 and from an increasing number of specific mines for which we have documentary record, often in the form of court case records. Once the nature of wide and deep horizontal deposits was understood by the mid-C16, meers (a linear measurement along a vein irrespective of its width or depth) were measured in squares rather than the usual linear measurement along the vein. As knowledge of ore deposits increased many more mines were worked; in excess of a hundred are individually named in documents but many groups of miners could be at work along a single vein. During the C15 and C16 technological development moved apace with the first evidence of 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 mines had their old underground workings and surface hillocks extensively reworked. The breaking of rock underground using gunpowder (from the 1660s) made working mines to a greater depth easier, but these required more efficient ventilation, gained by sinking shafts at regular intervals. The driving of soughs (1627 onwards) to dewater mines was crucial and these became common. Technological advancement continued in the C18. At the beginning of the C18, shafts and workings were at a depth of 700ft, but by the end of the century some 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; baskets and sleds were gradually superseded at larger mines by the introduction of small, plain wheeled wagons running along wooden rails. Iron railed tramways became relatively common in the C19. 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. A series of expensive ventures using steam engines to enable work at depth were launched but mostly failed to produce viable ore over sustained periods. As with all previous centuries, small scale underground production by miner-farmers and other part time workers, and low-paid reworking of hillocks for residual lead ore, continued apace. With the exception of Millclose Mine at Darley Bridge, which worked until 1939, little profitable mining was carried out from the 1880s 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 area of protection includes Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture Mine, Bondog Hole Mine and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels. Doghole vein was being exploited by the mid-C16; in the period 1541-1542 three groups of miners, perhaps working three meers of ground, obtained 54 loads and three dishes of ore during three separate months of activity. Along the vein were a number of smaller mining ventures; Doghole rake was at work in 1639 and the Doghole Grove in 1655. A list of mines indicating the shares held in them by Sir Philip Gell and Francis Gell compiled on 20 April 1689 includes: 'Dogholes Grove on Middleton Moor and of all the meers belonging to it'. During the second half of the C18 the London Lead Company began to take an interest in the Wigley Doghole and Bond Doghole mines together with Spar Rake, Black Rakes and numerous associated scrins. Documents reveal that the Spar Rake veins yielded a profit to the company of £3,325 between January 1763 and December 1773. From February 1769 until December 1773, no less than 3,454 loads of ore were sold. The London Lead Company records state that ores mined from a scrin (a mineralised joint often less than two feet wide between the limestone walls) on the south side of the Doghole Great Vein in 1765 was raised from 25-35 fathoms beneath the surface. The company sunk the main engine shaft at Bondog Hole Mine to a depth of 40 fathoms between November 1770 and December 1773. When the London Lead Company advertised for sale their Derbyshire Holdings in June 1777, there was no mention of the Bondog Hole title. References to various mines in the area continue to the mid-C19 but it is unclear when lead mining in the area ceased. Black Rakes is the collective name for four veins in the south east quadrant of Middleton Wood and is the site of an intensive area of activity. Little documentary evidence exists for dating these mines and those further to the north, but the earliest Ordnance Survey map of 1880 labels the majority as 'Old Shafts', only those mines on the Merry Tom vein appear to be extant at that time. DETAILS The designated area includes the earthwork, buried and standing remains of a series of lead mines on Middleton Moor and steeply sloping land immediately to the north. The most visible surface remains are likely to represent multiple phases of mining activity but with the majority dating from the late C17 to late C18. The mining earthworks stand to varying heights but survive up to 2m in many places and with sections of standing structures to a similar height. Middleton Moor is a tract of upland lying to the west and North West of Middleton village at the south margin of the Carboniferous limestone plateau, immediately south of the southern boundary of the Peak District National Park. The moor lies at c350m Ordnance Datum at the southern edge of the area but drops steeply to the north to c220m. This limestone scarp forms part of the southern end of the Pennine spine of England and towards the southern limit of the White Peak lead mining area. The designated area includes a large number of small mines on many small veins which lie within the Liberty of Middleton by Wirksworth (the district within which the miners worked, governed by a set of laws and customs). Middleton Moor was an important mining field, here the evidence for mining has survived because the hillocks are largely of limestone rather than gangue material (waste minerals which accompany metallic ores in a deposit) so later reworking to remove remaining small amounts of lead ore or fluorspar, as happens on many similar sites, has not eradicated earlier evidence here. There are a large number of shafts with associated hillocks, small dressing floors and ruined coes. Some shafts occur in clusters and are unusually close together. One particular example of a small mine complex is located at SK2659656293 and comprises a mound-top dressing floor (where the metallic ore was separated from the limestone and associated clay and dirt) with a small drawing shaft upslope, a coe (a stone built shed, shelter or store) with an attached circular wall that is believed to contain a blocked climbing shaft to one side, and a stone-lined buddle (a basic feature used for separating small sized ore from adherent dirt by a means of a stream of water) down slope. Elsewhere there are two ponds that may be associated with water storage or ore dressing. On the upper parts of the slope in the area known as Black Rakes the mines become larger with large flat topped hillocks and dressing floors which generally survive up to a height of 2m. There are several engine/climbing shafts, ruined coes and an arched level or high level sough (a level driven primarily for the purposes of drainage). One hillock has a walled gin circle (a circular feature representing a horse operated winding apparatus) on an embanked hillock and several others have flat areas large enough to have contained further examples. Another hillock (SK 2682056113) lies within a small belland yard (stone walls built around areas of working to prevent cattle from straying and eating grass contaminated by lead) with a walled dressing floor, coe and shafts. At Welshmans Venture Mine (SK 2637455863) there is a well-preserved large coe, an engine shaft and the overgrown site of a gin. Doghole rake runs almost east to west across the northern flank of Middleton Moor, beginning on the west side of Middleton Village and terminating on the east side of the former Hoptonwood Quarry. Bondog Hole Mine occupies a central section of the rake which falls within the designated area. Here there is a ruinous terraced and walled belland yard and dressing floor, with room for the documented gin circle and a ruined powder house (or simply a coe), all on top of a large hillock. The rake workings survive as earthworks but further east are the low standing remains of a further two coes. On the slopes of the Via Gellia below the main complex, some workings continue and include two levels with coes at Merry Tom (SK2636656414) and two levels at Thumper Sitch (SK 2632956359), the upper one with a coe. At all these there are underground workings including wooden rails at Merry Tom. EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The scheduled area is defined by two areas of protection; that to the north, the larger of the two areas (Area of Protection 01), includes the mine complexes at Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture Mine, and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels and all their associated features. That to the south (Area of Protection 02) defines the remains of Bondog Hole Mine and includes the associated belland yard, powder house, site of the gin and two coes. Area of Protection 01 From the northwest corner of the area of protection the line follows the southern edge of the Via Gellia for c207m before turning to the south cutting across to the southern edge of New Road. It follows the line of the road for c430m before turning south to follow a field boundary wall turning to the west with the boundary and continuing on this line until the top edge of Hopton Quarry. At the south-west corner of this area of protection, the line turns to the north following the upper edge of the quarry for the most part, before cutting across New Road and continuing until it meets the north-west corner of the area of protection. Area of Protection 02 The area of protection around Bondog Hole Mine follows a field boundary at the eastern end starting at SK2685455953. From here the line follows the boundary for c60m before turning to the west for c257m running along the southern edge of the mining earthworks. The line then curves north around the western edge of the belland yard, powder house or coe, and the site of the gin circle. The northern edge, again follows the line of the mine workings until it rejoins the north-east corner of the area of protection. With the exception of the eastern side of the boundary, this area of protection includes a 2m buffer zone around the mining remains which was considered necessary for the support and preservation of the monument. All modern post and wire fences, road surfaces and signage are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included. SELECTED SOURCES 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: Willies, L and Parker, H. - Title: Peak District Mining and Quarrying - Date: 2004 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 - Page References: 7-21 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. Bevan, B and Edmonds, M. - Title: 'Gardoms Edge: a landscape through time. - Date: 2002 - Journal Title: Antiquity - Page References: 50-56 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 - Volume: Vol 18 No. 1+2 National Grid Reference: SK2653156156

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2013. Scheduling notification: Black Rakes, Welshmans Venture and Bondog Hole Mines, and Merry Tom and Thumper Sitch Levels. List entry no. 1412515. SM Cat. No. 543.



Grid reference Centred SK 2653 5615 (704m by 614m)
Map sheet SK25NE

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Record last edited

Jul 31 2013 4:03PM

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