Ancient Monuments

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Carrshield lead mines and ore works

A Scheduled Monument in West Allen, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.8171 / 54°49'1"N

Longitude: -2.3074 / 2°18'26"W

OS Eastings: 380340.261437

OS Northings: 546963.403621

OS Grid: NY803469

Mapcode National: GBR DDBQ.7Z

Mapcode Global: WH91X.J5FY

Entry Name: Carrshield lead mines and ore works

Scheduled Date: 8 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015849

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28541

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: West Allen

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Whitfield and Ninebanks

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of two lead mines and an ore works, situated
on the base and lower slopes of the valley of the West Allen at Carrshield.
The visible remains of the lead industry at Carrshield are complex and
represent several phases of mining over three centuries. The latest phase of
the mining dominates, although earlier remains will survive beneath these, as
well as in the areas untouched by later mining.
The earliest known mining activity at the site was the Barney Crag Horse
level, situated at the southern end of the complex; this mine was opened
during the 1760s and continued in use throughout the 19th century. The access
to this mine was through an adit, or horizontal tunnel into the valley side.
The round arched tunnel of roughly squared rubble construction is Listed Grade
II and visible 10m south west of a large lodging shop. The two storeyed
lodging shop, which is the largest in the north Pennines, retains original
internal features including several arched furnace openings and a
blacksmiths' forge. Inside and surrounding the lodging shop there are a series
of culverts, some of which are thought to have been used to drain the mines;
others are thought to be related to the water management system associated
with ore processing at the northern end of the monument. The second mine at
the complex was Scraithole Mine which was operated during the 19th century by
the Beaumont Company, and was reopened in the 1950s when it continued to be
operational until 1981. Access to this mine was also through an adit; the
entrance is situated on the left bank of the river immediately east of the
track to Greenpit, opposite Bluerow Cottages.
As well as the underground adit, lead ore could be exposed by directing
torrents of water across the line of the vein; the action of the water often
resulted in a water-cut ravine or a hush. Two water cut features 12m to 14m
wide, thought to be hushes, are situated on the left bank of the river
immediately opposite the lodging house. It is uncertain exactly which phase of
mining they relate to though they are thought to be of 19th century date.
Situated at the northern end of the monument, on the western side of the river
where it overlies an earlier lynchet, is an extensive spoil heap associated
with the mining activity at the site. There is also evidence at the Carrshield
complex for the processing of ore prior to smelting. Once the lead ore had
been recovered from the mines it was stored in tall stone containers known as
bouse teams; there are the remains of a series of bouse teams 26m long in the
central area of the monument. These have been modified in later years but
their 19th century form is still visible. To the north of the bouse teams, is
the washing floor where many of the ore processing operations intended to wash
and sort the ore from unwanted impurities were carried out. This area is now
covered by later dressing waste but it is thought that much of the original
washing floor survives beneath this waste. Underlying earthwork features are
visible at the northern end of these waste heaps. The Ordnance Survey first
and second edition plans (1859 and 1895) show the positions of the small
structures and tanks used during these processes. The third edition plan of
1919 indicates more buildings and additional tanks in this area. The washing
floor was supplied with water from a complex of culverts visible in the
vicinity of the lodging shop. Two large reservoirs, measuring 50m by 12m and
65m by 20m, situated on the right bank of the river above the washing floor
are thought to have operated as settling tanks. Once the ore had been sorted
further processess were used to break it into smaller pieces; one method was
the use of a mechanized crusher and documentary sources refer to the existence
of a crushing mill at Barney Crag during the 1860s and 1870s, although its
exact position is unknown.
The River West Allen runs through the centre of the complex. It is revetted
with stone walls; it is thought that the revetment originally carried arches
of 19th century date along the whole of its length to support a raised floor
providing an extension to the area provided for the washing floor. A number of
these arches survive. The stone wall revetment on the eastern side of the
river is Listed Grade II. The early 19th century bridge which carries the
track across the river to Greenpit and a portal and chamber of a drainage
tunnel 20m to the east of the bridge are also Listed Grade II.
The complex also includes the remains of a railway line and several tracks
giving access to the waste heaps, and a series of ways on the east side of the
river above the washing floors. The track ways are thought to relate to the
working of these areas as well as giving general access to the complex.
The concrete sheds adjacent to the Scraithole adit, the concrete shed
immediately north west of the bouse teams, and the metalled surfaces of all
roads, tracks and fences which cross the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.
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.

Despite the fact that there has been later mining developments at the
Carrshield lead mines and ore works, significant remains survive. The site
retains a good number of components including the largest lodging house in the
north Pennines and an intact washing floor beneath later waste heaps.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bowden, M, Barney Crag Industrial Complex, (1992)
Ian Forbes, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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