Ancient Monuments

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Lead mill on north bank of Bar Brook, 80m east of confluence with Sandyford Brook

A Scheduled Monument in Baslow and Bubnell, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2611 / 53°15'40"N

Longitude: -1.5929 / 1°35'34"W

OS Eastings: 427249.818996

OS Northings: 373867.662736

OS Grid: SK272738

Mapcode National: GBR KZ9Q.XP

Mapcode Global: WHCD2.H9P9

Entry Name: Lead mill on north bank of Bar Brook, 80m east of confluence with Sandyford Brook

Scheduled Date: 5 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009705

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24978

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Baslow and Bubnell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Curbar All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument lies in an area of wooded gritstone boulders, on the north bank
of the Bar Brook. It consists of the remains of a 17th-18th century smelt
mill. The core of the site consists of a ruined two cell building lying east-
west with remains of a chimney in the west wall. The interior of this building
is largely obscured by rubble. To the east of this lies a dam which has been
breached but is largely intact. The east boundary is drawn to include the
western parts of the access track and leat and a bridge where they cross each
other, but excludes the eastern parts of both features, which are poorly
preserved. To the north of the building, a hollow way leads to the north west,
and a small building lies beside this. To the south of the building, fragments
of associated walling extend to the Bar Brook. The mill was built in 1618, and
closed around 1770. A gritstone mould for casting pigs of lead is recorded as
having come from the ruins, but it is not now visible.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England,
spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age
(c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely
to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites,
representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological
resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national
importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and
assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to
represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and
regional diversity.
Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to
develop until the late 19th century. They were the normal type of lead smelter
until the 18th century, when they were partially replaced by the reverberatory
smelt mill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth, in which
lead ore was mixed with fuel (initially dried wood, later a mixture of peat
and coal). An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a
waterwheel; more sophisticated arrangements were used at some 19th century
sites. The slags from the ore hearth still contained some lead. This was
extracted by resmelting the slags at a higher temperature using charcoal or
(later) coke fuel, normally in a separate slag hearth. This was typically
within the ore hearth smelt mill, though separate slag mills are known.
Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths,
whereas late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often large complexes
containing several ore and slag hearths, roasting furnaces for preparing the
ore, refining furnaces for extracting silver from the lead by a process known
as cupellation, and reducing furnaces for recovering lead from the residue or
litharge produced by cupellation, together with sometimes complex systems of
flues, condensers and chimneys for recovering lead from the fumes given off by
the various hearths and furnaces. The ore hearth smelt mill site will also
contain fuel stores and other ancillary buildings.
Ore hearth smelt mills have existed in and near all the lead mining fields of
England, though late 18th and 19th century examples were virtually confined to
the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards (and surviving evidence is strongly
concentrated in North Yorkshire). It is believed that several hundred examples
existed nationally. The sample identified as meriting protection includes: all
sites with surviving evidence of hearths; sites with intact slag tips of
importance for understanding the development of smelting technology; all 16th-
17th century sites with appreciable standing structural remains; 16th-17th
century sites with well preserved earthwork remains; and a more selective
sample of 18th and 19th century sites to include the best surviving evidence
for smelt mill structures, and flue/condenser/chimney systems.

The Bar Brook site is a good example of a small Derbyshire ore hearth smelt
mill of early date. It survives well, and in addition to containing the full
range of features commonly present on sites of this date and type, retains an
unusually large amount of upstanding masonry. Both the monument and its
environs are undisturbed by later developments. The site is also documented
archaeologically by a detailed survey, and is of enhanced amenity value due to
its location on National Park access land.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crossley, D, Kiernan, D, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lead-Smelting Mills of Derbyshire, , Vol. Vol CXII, (1992), 14
Willies, L, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Barker family and the eighteenth-century lead business, , Vol. Vol 93, (1973), 55-74
1699Z /LP 31, Derbyshire Record Office, (1960)
Conversation, November 1993, Willies, L, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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