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Lead workings in High Tor Recreation Ground

A Scheduled Monument in Matlock Town, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1266 / 53°7'35"N

Longitude: -1.5564 / 1°33'22"W

OS Eastings: 429781.892391

OS Northings: 358915.11242

OS Grid: SK297589

Mapcode National: GBR 58X.WX9

Mapcode Global: WHCDP.2N4Y

Entry Name: Lead workings in High Tor Recreation Ground

Scheduled Date: 5 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009710

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24984

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Matlock Town

Built-Up Area: Matlock

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Matlock St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a group of rock cut clefts, produced by the mining of
lead ore from sub-vertical veins. It lies close to the summit of High Tor, a
prominent limestone crag.
The two main clefts are `Roman Cave' (running east-west and forming the
southern part of the monument) and `Fern Cave' (running north from the western
part of `Roman Cave'). Both are 2m-5m wide and up to 20m deep, with surviving
tool marks on their sides and small underground workings at their bases. There
are smaller clefts adjacent to the west end of Roman Cave, and to the west of
the central and northern parts of Fern Cave. Fern Cave terminates to the north
as an impressive cleft in the cliff of High Tor, where a spoil heap indicates
the site of an adit running beneath the exposed workings. The west end of
Roman Cave is separated by an infilled length from the cliff face, but an adit
and spoil heap in the cliff confirm the presence of workings throughout this
length. Archaeological deposits remain in the infilled length, and in the
bases of the clefts, where they may well overlie underground workings.
Workings are documented here from the 16th to the 18th centuries; an earlier
origin is possible, but there is no evidence for Roman working, despite the
popular name.
The scheduling excludes modern fences, a wooden kiosk at the east end, and
modern tarmac paths, but the ground beneath these features is included.

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.
Lead rakes are linear mining features along the outcrop of a lead vein
resulting from the extraction of relatively shallow ore. They can be broadly
divided between: rakes consisting of continuous rock-cut clefts; rakes
consisting of lines of interconnecting or closely-spaced shafts with
associated spoil tips and other features; and rakes whose surface features
were predominantly produced by reprocessing of earlier waste tips (normally in
the 19th century). In addition, some sites contain associated features such as
coes (miners' huts), gin circles (the circular track used by a horse operating
simple winding or pumping machinery), and small-scale ore-dressing areas and
structures, often marked by tips of dressing waste.
The majority of rake workings are believed to be of 16th-18th century date,
but earlier examples are likely to exist, and mining by rock-cut cleft has
again become common in the 20th century. Rakes are the main field monuments
produced by the earlier and technologically simpler phases of lead mining.
They are very common in Derbyshire, where they illustrate the character of
mining dominated by regionally distinctive Mining Laws, and moderately common
in the Pennine and Mendip orefields; they are rare in other lead mining areas.
A sample of the better preserved examples from each region, illustrating the
typological range, will merit protection.

The lead workings on High Tor are one of the finest examples nationally of
opencut workings, due to their deep and narrow form. They demonstrate very
clearly the relationship between geological structure and the form of mine
workings. Their shape has allowed the survival of tool marks on the rockfaces
(normally destroyed by weathering), and this is one of the few sites where
such features are safely accessible to the public.

Source: Historic England


Typescript to Derbyshire Dales D C, Willies, L, Report on Safety of Mines at the High Tor Grounds, Matlock, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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