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Monument record MDR3651 - Lead smelting sites, Beeley Edge, Beeley

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Beeley Edge Boles (SK 280662-SK 285680). Various lead smelting boles were identified on Beeley Edge, for example at SK 282 671 and SK 280 662, sited just below the edge itself to gain maximum draught. They are of earth and rock with large numbers of hearths and much slag. (1, 2) There is a series of bole hearths, from SK280662 to 285680, along the scarp top and 200m back from the edge. The hearths are occasionally in situ on the moor, or buried into Bronze Age cairns. There are a number of lead poisoned areas. (3) There are numerous remains of lead boles on Beeley Moor, wherever a place is exceptionally exposed to the wind. There are several boles near Raven Tor, and one was made in the west-facing end of a Bronze Age cairn. A hollow had been scooped out of the cairn and the kerb had been levelled, perhaps to be used as a threshold to the hearth. The hearth deposit, 3 ft 9 ins by 2 ft 6 ins, was made up of layers of slag and charcoal 6-8 ins thick. There was no evidence of a proper wall, but stones with signs of burning and fusing, and coated in lead slag, were spread over a considerable area, which might suggest that the bole was used several times. In the soil around the cairn were small quantities of slag and one piece of melted lead which may represent one 'tapping' of the bole. (4) The hearth at one of the boles on Beeley Moor was only about a foot in diameter and a survey of the adjacent area using a magnetometer suggests that this was typical. However, the magnetometer also revealed that probable bole sites existed at intervals of only 20 or 30 feet along a very considerable distance along the edge. This suggests that despite the very small-scale nature of the process, the total output at one site would be considerable, assuming the boles to be contemporary. The site is easily recognisable due to the absence of vegetation on the downwind side, whilst the actual hearth position is given by the scatter of heat-reddened stone and pieces of lead ore and slag. (5) The area indicated by Authority 5 was surveyed in 1997-8. No trace of possible bole hearths or of smelting slags/burnt stones were identified at that time, with the exception of a possible example at SK27946679. However, in some places the heather was quite thick and the area would need to be searched after burning. The possible bole comprised a small oval platform terraced into the slope with a stony lynchet on the downslope side. Several of the stones in the lynchet had been heavily burnt, unlike others in the general vicinity. Externally it measured 4m x 3m across. (6) The lead smelting sites have been scheduled as part of a larger area of complex archaeology. The boles are distributed over approximately 300m of the edge at about 8m intervals. They comprise a series of sub-circular stone structures situated to take advantage of the prevailing wind from the west and south-west. One of the boles has been constructed in the western edge of a triple cairn complex, and comprises a small hearth still containing pieces of burnt limestone and lead ore. The boles date from the medieval period and some may be as early as 11th or 12th century. (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Committee on British Archaeology. 1975. Panel on Industrial Monuments.
  • <2> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index. 2751, 0332, 0333.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Hill, R (PPJPB). 1985. Peak Park Treasures. C33, C59.
  • <4> Article in serial: Radley, J. 1969. 'A triple cairn and a rectangular cairn of the Bronze Age on Beeley Moor', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 89, pp 1-17.
  • <5> Article in serial: Willies, L. 1972. 'The development of lead smelting in Derbyshire', Peak Archaeological Society. Volume 27, pp 3-9.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J (PDNPA). 1998. The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey, Chatsworth Moorlands: Archaeological Survey 1997-8. p 174, Features 27.29 and 27.34.
  • <7> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Notification: Triple Cairn, Cairnfield and Bole Sites SW from Raven Tor. 31275. Cat. No. 511.



Grid reference Centred SK 280 668 (253m by 294m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3856

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Record last edited

Apr 9 2015 9:31AM

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