Ancient Monuments

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West Stonesdale lead mine and ore works

A Scheduled Monument in Muker, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4279 / 54°25'40"N

Longitude: -2.1772 / 2°10'37"W

OS Eastings: 388600.079652

OS Northings: 503627.198118

OS Grid: NY886036

Mapcode National: GBR FK77.FG

Mapcode Global: WHB4V.JYGV

Entry Name: West Stonesdale lead mine and ore works

Scheduled Date: 24 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015407

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28247

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Muker

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the remains of the West Stonesdale lead mines and ore
works complex situated on the banks of Startindale Gill.

There are two mines included in the monument; a shaft mine on the west bank of
the gill with an adjacent engine house and an adit, or horizontal mine tunnel,
on the opposite side of the gill with the remains of a stone bridge and
causeway connecting it to the main complex. The lead ore works lay south of
the engine house and spoil or waste tips extend north and south east from
the shaft. A lime kiln and an adjacent store building are also included in the

The shaft is sunk into the steep west side of the gill with the engine house
built immediately to the east of it with a stone superstructure surrounding
the shaft head. The engine house is divided into two parts; a room which
housed a two cylinder hydraulic engine and to its south, a narrow chamber
which contained a spur wheel to pump water from the mine via a system of bell
cranks and connecting rods. The wheel chamber extends west beyond the shaft
to accommodate a counter balance system. The engine also powered a winding
mechanism, located in a room above, which raised and lowered cages in the
shaft. A store room was also located on the floor above the engine. The front
and upper floor of the engine house have collapsed but the rear wall and
structure surrounding the shaft head remain intact. Despite the collapse many
of the structural and functional elements of the building can be clearly

The entrance to the adit mine on the east side of the gill has collapsed but a
stone causeway leading from it, to carry material to the processing works
still survives. At the gill edge the causeway is 5m wide and 1.5m high. The
bridge has collapsed but the remains of the bridge supports on the west of
the gill can be clearly identified.

The ore works lie to the south of the engine house on a series of terraces
cut into the hillside. The works include three main components: a waterwheel
to provide power, a crushing plant to break down the ore bearing rock and a
series of terraces known as dressing or washing floors where the lead ore was
prepared before being taken to a smelt mill. The wheelpit lies at the highest
level and was fed by a leat from Great Bridge Gill to the west. Although the
main function of the wheel was to power the adjacent crushing plant its
location suggests it may also have been used for winding in the shaft. The
crushing plant lay immediately south of the wheel and although this is now in
ruins substantial remains of both it and the wheel pit survive beneath stone
rubble. South of the crushing mill are two dressing floors stepping down to
the gill. Both of these have a supporting wall on the lower (east) side. A
further level terrace and remains of a building lie immediately to the south
of the dressing floors.

North of the engine house a spoil tip extends northwards for 70m and tumbles
steeply to the edge of the gill at the east. This spoil tip is level with the
top of the shaft head superstructure whilst to the south the ground is level
with the shaft head itself. Further spoil tips lie on the slope to the south
east of the engine house.

A small adit emerges from the hillside just above the gill to the south east
of the engine house which discharged water pumped out from the shaft.

The lime kiln lies on the east bank of the gill and is a circular stone
structure 3.8m in diameter at the top with an access chute 1.8m wide. The kiln
is built into the slope so that at the front it is 3m high and at the rear it
is only 0.9m above ground level. This meant that the kiln could be filled from
the rear without an access ramp having to be built. Close to the rear of the
kiln is the remains of a stone open fronted structure which was probably a
store for either limestone or fuel.

The shaft mine was opened in c.1850 to create access to the west end of a rich
lead vein known as the Blakethwaite vein. This had been worked at the more
accessible east end but was abandoned due to water problems. A cross vein
worked from the mine was quite productive, producing, between 1855 and 1860,
12000 pounds sterling worth of ore, although ironically the Blakethwaite vein
itself turned out to be unproductive. The mine was abandoned in 1860 and was
never reworked.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.
Nucleated lead mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by lead
mining. They consist of a range of features grouped around the adits and/or
shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with
associated spoil tip, but more complex and (in general) later examples may
include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts,
housing, lodging shops and offices, powder houses for storing gunpowder, power
transmission features such as wheel pits, dams and leats. The majority of
nucleated lead mines also included ore works, where the mixture of ore and
waste rock extracted from the ground was separated ('dressed') to form a
smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as:
picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller
sizes (either by manual hammering or mechanical crushing); sorting of broken
material by size; separation of gravel-sized material by shaking on a sieve in
a tub of water ('jigging'); and separation of finer material by washing away
the lighter waste in a current of water ('buddling'). The field remains of ore
works vary widely and include the remains of crushing devices, separating
structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes,
together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel
pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses.
The majority of nucleated lead mines with ore works are of 18th to 20th
century date, earlier mining being normally by rake or hush and including
scattered ore dressing features (a 'hush' is a gully or ravine partly
excavated by use of a controlled torrent of water to reveal or exploit a vein
of mineral ore). Nucleated lead mines often illustrate the great advances in
industrial technology associated with the period known as the Industrial
Revolution and, sometimes, also inform an understanding of the great changes
in social conditions which accompanied it. Because of the greatly increased
scale of working associated with nucleated mining such features can be a major
component of many upland landscapes. It is estimated that several thousand
sites exist, the majority being small mines of limited importance, although
the important early remains of many larger mines have often been greatly
modified or destroyed by continued working or by modern reworking. A sample of
the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and
technological range of the class, is considered to merit protection.

West Stonesdale mine complex retains a wide range of features associated with
the lead exploitation and processing industry. The engine house is an unusual
structure which housed the only known hydraulic engine in this part of the
Yorkshire Dales. Important archaeological remains of ore processing activities
also survive. Overall, the complex preserves important archaeological remains
which serve to illustrate the history of the lead industry throughout the
region and the country.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McNeil, J, Finch, L, Gill, M, West Stonesdale Mine Engine House Survey, (1976)
McNeil, J, Finch, L, Gill, M, West Stonesdale Mine Engine House Survey, (1976)
McNeil, J, 'British Mining' in West Stonesdale Mine, , Vol. No. 19, (1982), 15-19

Source: Historic England

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