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Monument record MDR8638 - Ball Eye Mine, Bonsall Hollow, Bonsall

Type and Period (3)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • World Heritage Site
  • World Heritage Site Buffer Zone

Full Description

Ball Eye Mine is an extremely extensive ramification of workings, natural cavities and drainage levels. This is one of the most extensive lead mines in Derbyshire. The mineralization is unique. Recent samples of lead ore acquired by the Geology Department at Sheffield University show that an unusually high percentage of silver is present in the ore. Short, writing in 1734, stated that Ball Eye lead mine ran at about 20oz to the ton. Other, rarer minerals are also present in the mine and can be seen in the walls of the workings. The different phases of mineralization are clearly visible. The workings, in part, are very old, definitely made before gunpowder was introduced. Some levels were hand-dressed, while others were made by lime-blasting. Large pipe workings, several yards wide and high, and hundreds of feet long are found alongside small hand picked levels only a few inches wide and 3ft high. White Watson, writing in 1811, stated that, in 1663, a fossil of a mammoth was discovered in a large cavern and left in the mine, being too large to extract. There is evidence of Pleistocene silts and clays filling old, natural, cave passages. (1, 2) Late 19th and early 20th century OS maps show the 'Ball Eye' area to be occupied by many 'Old Shafts (Lead)' and several 'Lead Mines', mainly concentrated within the central and northern parts of the site, two areas within the southern part of the site that are shown as 'Quarry' and subsequently 'Old Quarry', and the area of 'Rugs Hall' farmhouse at the centre of the site. Modern mapping shows the majority of the site to be located within the current boundaries of 'Balleye Quarry (Limestone)', with only the western and northern fringes of the site undisturbed by modern quarrying. (4, 5, 6) Ball Eye Mine, Cromford, almost uniquely in Derbyshire, also produced some silver. Ball Eye Mine was one of the most significant lead mines in the Lower Derwent area active in the prosperous 17th century. The growing demand for gangue minerals (essentially fluorspar and barytes) associated with lead and zinc ores, hitherto often rejected as waste, improved the mining activity in the area which was dying out by 1900. During much of the 20th century, operations were sustained initially by the reprocessing of waste tips to garner those materials, followed by extraction on a large scale from surface and underground operations, from the 1960s through to the 2000s. Ball Eye was one of the main focuses of the area along with Masson Hill, Slinter and Bonsall Moor. Fluorspar was required to produce steel, other metals and used in the chemicals industry, until foreign competition became too great in the later 2000s. Baryte was also employed in chemicals but was mainly in demand for its high specific gravity, for example, in the oil well drilling, radiation protective concretes and special fillers. (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Anon. Personal communication. J.H. Rieuwerts.
  • <2> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Ball Eye Mine.
  • <3> Unpublished document: County Treasure Recording Form. 11.3.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile). XXXIV-6.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile). XXXIV-6, 1898.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1912-1921. OS County Series, 3rd edition (Second Revision), scale 1:2500 (25" to one mile). XXXIV-6.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Thomas, I (National Stone Centre). 2012. The Lower Derwent Valley: The Exploitation and Use of Historic Building Materials. p 12, 13, 31.



Grid reference Centred SK 2858 5758 (596m by 709m) Approximate
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3581

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Feb 6 2024 3:09PM

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