Ancient Monuments

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Upper Slatesike lead mine and ore works, 750m north east of Black Dub

A Scheduled Monument in Alston Moor, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.712 / 54°42'43"N

Longitude: -2.4555 / 2°27'19"W

OS Eastings: 370747.424632

OS Northings: 535312.636983

OS Grid: NY707353

Mapcode National: GBR CF9Y.5P

Mapcode Global: WH927.7TYL

Entry Name: Upper Slatesike lead mine and ore works, 750m north east of Black Dub

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015837

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29022

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Alston Moor

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Alston Moor

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument lies at the head of Slate Sike, one of the headwaters of the
River Tees. It includes the structural and earthwork remains of the main level
and ore works, but not the more dispersed remains of levels and shafts to the
north, east and west.
Upper Slatesike Mine worked the West Cross Fell vein, the westward
continuation of the Cashwell vein, via a series of cross-cut adits (self-
draining mine levels driven to cross the line of the vein, rather than along
its length). It is thought that the mine was worked prior to 1778 and was
abandoned in favour of an adit, which is not included in the scheduling,
driven at a lower level by the early 19th century.
The monument includes the final c.30m section of the main mine level. This
section, passing through shallow ground, was constructed by cut and cover
(where the ground was too shallow to allow tunnelling, a cutting was made with
arched stonework built to form the level, then covered with earth to stabilise
the construction) to maintain the level's gradient, allowing it to drain. The
side walls stand c.1m high and extend beyond the level entrance south eastward
to a c.6m by 5m stone building. This building would have controlled access to
the mine and is interpreted as a mine office and store. The remains of a
c.0.5m wide tramway which is flanked by low heaps of grassed over mine spoil
extends south eastwards from the level. The tramway splits into two: the
western tramway leads to a series of mine spoil heaps, now mostly grassed
over, and soon becomes difficult to trace; the eastern one runs for c.10m and
ends at a set of three stone built bouse teams (storage bays for ore) which
stand to close their original height, c.1m. To the east of these bays there is
a wide area measuring approximately 50m by 70m covered in discrete spreads of
dressing wastes. These wastes were produced by various processes designed to
concentrate the lead content of the ore up to 60-70 percent. All of the
processes at Slatesike are thought to have been manually powered and after the
ore was broken up by hand and sorted by eye, all the processes would have used
water to separate the dense lead ore from the lighter waste minerals, with a
series of processes being employed to treat increasingly small particles. A
network of small water channels can be seen across the site showing that a
complex water management system was employed, reusing water several times. To
the south of the bouse teams there are a number of rounded dumps of mine
spoil. These spoil heaps, which are now mainly grassed over, are typical of
wheelbarrow tipped heaps with rounded `hogs back' profiles and are very
different to the finger tips (long `finger'-like flat-topped spoil heaps)
produced by mine tubs run along rails which became typical in the 19th
century. The tips at Slatesike are typically up to 1.5m high, but the largest,
which forms the southernmost point of the monument, is c.30m by 10m by 5m

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.

The remains at Upper Slatesike are typical of an 18th century lead mine with
its characteristic barrow tipped spoil heaps, instead of the finger tips
created by tub runs which became more typical in the 19th century. The
monument includes a fine example of a manually powered oreworks, with its
network of water channels, remains of stone built structures and discrete
spreads of ore processing waste. The monument thus forms one of the best
preserved examples of an 18th or early 19th century lead mine known in
Northern England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), 132-133
Fairbairn, R A, 'British Mining' in The Mines of Alston Moor, , Vol. No 47, (1993), 144-145

Source: Historic England

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