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Middle Greenlaws Level lead mine and ore works

A Scheduled Monument in Stanhope, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.7277 / 54°43'39"N

Longitude: -2.1732 / 2°10'23"W

OS Eastings: 388944.36331

OS Northings: 536983.071488

OS Grid: NY889369

Mapcode National: GBR FF8S.91

Mapcode Global: WHB3H.LFCJ

Entry Name: Middle Greenlaws Level lead mine and ore works

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015828

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29015

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: St John's Chapel

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument is situated within the slight valley containing Daddryshield
Burn at the eastern end of Greenlaws Hush. It includes the ruined structures
and buried remains of Greenlaws Middle Level ore works together with two
intact level entrances and a truncated spoil heap under which a trackway
passes via a stone arched tunnel. The monument also includes all deposits of
mining and dressing wastes together with all timber and iron remains of
tramways and ore processing equipment within the area of protection, even
where these are no longer in situ. Also included in the scheduling is a
mineshop (lodging house for miners which is also thought to have served as a
small mine smithy) which is currently in agricultural use as a store.
Greenlaws Hush to the west, and the other scattered level entrances and water
management features which made up the wider Greenlaws Mine are not included in
the scheduling.
Greenlaws Middle Level was worked as part of Greenlaws Lead Mine which
exploited two veins (Greenlaws East and West Veins) and was operated by the
Beaumont Company from at least 1818. The West Vein was discovered first and
was exploited via Greenlaws Hush and a series of shallow shafts. The East Vein
(which was the richer vein of the pair) was discovered around 1850, and was
the last major discovery made by the Beaumont Company. By 1860 Greenlaws Mine
was making a sizeable contribution towards the output of Weardale lead, and it
is believed that the Middle Level ore works was operational by this time. The
mine was taken over by the Weardale Lead Company in 1884 which worked the mine
until 1897 and then intermittently until 1907. Weardale Lead finally abandoned
the mine in 1913, but there have been at least two subsequent but
unsuccessful, trials of the workings: firstly at Quarry Level (NY 89413762),
0.7km to the north east of the monument in 1940 and then at Middle Level
itself in the early 1980s.
The monument includes two intact level portals, both of which are still open,
lying at the western end of the area of protection. On the north side of
Daddryshield Burn is a portal to a level driven westwards towards the West
Vein. This is partly blocked with material washed down by the stream and is
still issuing significant volumes of water. A second level portal survives
c.20m to the south. This is the Middle Level that was driven southwards to the
East Vein. Built as a horse level, it was large enough to admit pit ponies
used to pull mine tubs on tramlines. A couple of short lengths of the tramline
system still survives in situ at Greenlaws together with dumps of disused
rails, all of which are included in the scheduling. This level was
unsuccessfully tried in the early 1980s, and a tractor used to power an air
compressor at that time, still lies at the level entrance connected to the
level by a metal air-line. This tractor is also included within the
scheduling. Immediately to the east of the tractor there are the low earthwork
remains of a 15m by 4m building range that is divided into four cells.
Extending eastwards from 5m east of this building range is a bank of nine
round backed bouse teams (storage bays for unprocessed ore). These bays are
well preserved and are typically 4m deep and 3m wide, with the walling
standing to over 3m. The westernmost four of the bouse teams are buried in
mine spoil thought to have originated from the last reworking of the level.
Immediately to the south of the bouse teams and included within the
scheduling, is a small stone quarry believed to have been the source of some
of the building stone used at the ore works. To the north of the bouse teams
there is a c.50m by 40m level area. This is the upper washing floor (manual
powered ore processing area) which is partly covered by a small mine spoil
heap and is now crossed by the burn. The burn originally passed under the
washing floor via a large stone arched culvert, which was subsequently blocked
during floods in autumn 1995. Subsequent stream erosion shows that there is at
least 2m of archaeological stratigraphy containing both timber and ironwork
remains of in situ features relating to the ore works. These features are
believed to include a complex network of water channels, settings for ore
processing machinery, settings for tanks and deposits of waste material which
will all retain important technological information about the processes
employed in the 19th century. The upper washing floor is bounded to the north
by a second set of bouse teams. These are square backed and stand up to 4m
high. The six bays typically measure 3.5m wide and 5m deep. The east
(downstream) side of the washing floor is marked by a c.2m high revetment wall
which incorporates a flight of steps down to a second washing floor. This
second ore processing area is now covered in up to 2m of mine spoil washed
downstream, but is also thought to retain important in situ remains sealed
beneath the debris. On the south side of the area are the well preserved
remains of a c.9m by 4m by 3m wheelpit complete with some in situ timbers and
ironwork and an arched tailrace through the east wall. To the south are the
foundations for an ore crusher which was powered by the waterwheel. A small
two storey building with a stone slabbed roof lies c.40m to the north of the
wheelpit. This is interpreted as a mineshop (lodging house for miners) but is
thought to have also contained a small mine smithy. A second revetment,
incorporating an opening for a culvert for the stream, lies c.9m east of the
mineshop, downstream (east) from which are the low earthwork remains of other
features partly buried in mine spoil. Leading northwards from the building is
a trackway which, after c.20m, passes through a c.35m long tunnel underneath a
spoil heap. This tunnel, together with most of the spoil heap (which has been
truncated at its north east end), are also included in the scheduling. A
rectangular stone built enclosure, with a 2m wide arched entrance in the
centre of the north wall, lies above and just to the west of the upper washing
floor. This c.16m by 6m enclosure, which is built with mortared stone walls
standing to c.3m high, pierced with a number of short window slits, has been
interpreted as a timber yard for the mine.
The two abandoned Land Rovers, the two timber and corrugated iron huts,
the small sheet metal constructed store (which are all close to the
mineshop), stacks of stone roofing tiles, modern fencing and gates are
excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath all these features is

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.
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.

Middle Greenlaws Level retains important well preserved remains of a mid-19th
century ore works, much of which is now sealed in situ, buried under mine
spoil washed downstream during floods in 1995. The layout is effectively
complete and includes some particularly well preserved standing structures
including the wheelpit, Middle Level entrance with its tram rails, and the
round-backed bouse teams. The washing areas are thought to retain deposits up
to 2m in depth with in situ remains of features related to 19th century ore
processing equipment. The tunnel under the spoil heap and the stone built
enclosure thought to be a timber yard are nationally rare features which add
to the importance of the site. The remains, including the tractor, dating to
the unsuccessful trial in the early 1980s, are an important recent
demonstration of how abandoned mine workings have often been reinvestigated
throughout history.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 2, (1990), 196-197
Information provided by landowner, Pattinson, N, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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