Skip to main content

Scheduled Monument record MDR3140 - Fern Cave, High Tor, Matlock Town

Type and Period (1)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Fern Cave begins at the summit of High Tor, running 240 m (760ft) in a south-south-west direction. At the cliff face the workings are 50ft deep and 1-3m (2.5-10ft) wide. At the southern end Fern Cave is joined at right angles by Roman Cave. Both were worked for lead in the 17th and 18th centuries. Scheduled as part of a larger area of lead mining in High Tor Recreation Ground. (1-2) Fern Cave is a vertical-sided opencut which at floor level is between 1m and 3m wide. In its central section, under the crest of the Tor, it is up to 22m deep. In total it is 150m long. At the northern end, old show cave steps descend into a section where there has been ancient collapse of the sides leaving large boulders partially blocking the feature. In places there are horizontal 'pillars' of unmined vein material left by the miners as a safeguard against the sides collapsing inwards. Along one stretch there are low alcoves near floor level where the passage widens, although all but one are filled almost up to their roofs. At one point a narrow side working 6m long runs west from the main opencut. Where Fern Cave comes back to the surface, close to the end, there is a second locked gate. From here a flight of steps leads down into the Roman Cave opencut [see SMR 10047]. Both Fern and Roman Caves include interesting geological and mineralogical details and a wealth of archaeological features, such as notches for wooden supports known as stemples, sooting from early firesetting and scars from gunpowder blasting. These were recorded in detail as part of an archaeological survey carried out in 2006. (3)

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1996. Scheduling Notification: Lead Workings in High Tor Recreation Ground. 24984. 376. Cat. No. 376.
  • <2> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Fern & Roman Caves, Matlock Bath.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J and T Worthington (PDNPA). 2006. A Detailed Archaeological Assessment of Fern and Roman Caves, High Tor Rake and Hard Rake, High Tor, Matlock Bath.



Grid reference Centred SK 297 589 (62m by 142m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR2574

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Feb 27 2020 8:27PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.