Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Buckden Gavel lead smelt mill and mine

A Scheduled Monument in Buckden, North Yorkshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.1987 / 54°11'55"N

Longitude: -2.0704 / 2°4'13"W

OS Eastings: 395500.720174

OS Northings: 478108.714342

OS Grid: SD955781

Mapcode National: GBR FMZW.KM

Mapcode Global: WHB62.5QBK

Entry Name: Buckden Gavel lead smelt mill and mine

Scheduled Date: 4 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015905

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28246

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Buckden

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the remains of the Buckden Gavel lead smelt mill and the
later nucleated mine complex situated in a narrow steep sided gill on the west
flank of Buckden Pike. Although the mine and the smelt mill lie adjacent to
each other they were never in use at the same time.
The mine entrance is an adit or horizontal tunnel driven in a north easterly
direction at the east side of the monument. The adit is 1.5m high with an
arched portal 1.3m across set into a revetment wall 5.6m wide. The portal has
a keystone inscribed `T H'.
To the west of the mine entrance are the ruins of a lodging shop which
provided dormitory type accommodation for workers who did not live permanently
on site. This lies on a small terrace partly cut into the hillside.
The remains of a small dam and reservoir lie across the stream above the mine
entrance. The water thus stored was used for a variety of purposes, including
washing and sorting the ore prior to its removal for smelting. A small washing
floor where the initial sorting of ore took place lies at the mouth of the
mine. A further washing floor lies on an artificial terrace cut into the
hillside to the south west of the lodging shop. This terrace has a stone
retaining wall on the north side. The ruins of further structures also lie on
the north of the terrace.
The spoil heap formed from non-ore-bearing material removed from the mine
extends for at least 60m to the south of the mine entrance and then spills
downwards spreading out across the narrow gill sides.
A further spoil tip formed from waste material from the washing floor also
extends downwards and spreads across the gill sides.
To the south of the mine complex, some 5m beyond the foot of the spoil tips,
are the remains of the earlier lead smelt mill. This comprises a small two
roomed mill house 11m by 6m with walls surviving to 2m high. The most westerly
room held a single ore hearth against the dividing wall, whilst the eastern
room probably held the bellows required to provide the draught. There is no
sign of a wheel pit and it is thought that the wheel was built directly over
the beck and all traces have now gone. The absence of a flue from the mill
indicates that it was an early style with a chimney on the pitched roof of the
building. Such forms of smelt mill often had a dust chamber in the roof space
in which lead waste within the fumes could be condensed for reprocessing. To
the east of the mill are the remains of a flat buddle, a device for
concentrating ore by sedimentation in a horizontal current of water.
The mill was built in 1698 and worked until the early 1730s, when it was
replaced by the Birks Mill which had been built in 1713. The ore processed
probably came from the Buckden vein being worked further to the north.
The later Buckden Gavel mine dates to 1803 when Robert Higgs drove the level
in at the head of Buckden Gill and the ore was apparently taken to mills first
at Birks Mill and then, when production increased, to a new mill 3km away in
Cam Gill, Starbotton, which had been built in 1815.

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

Nucleated lead mines and smelt mill sites are a prominent type of field
monument produced by the lead extraction and processing industries. Lead mines
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 flat rod systems, transport systems such as
railways and inclines, and water supply and water power features such as wheel
pits, dams and leats. The majority of 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
can be summarised as: picking out clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down
lumps to smaller size; sorting of broken material by size; separation of
gravel sized material by shaking on a sieve (jigging); and separation of finer
material by washing away lighter waste in a current of water (buddling). The
field remains of ore works 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. The majority
of lead mines with ore works are of eighteenth to twentieth century date,
earlier mining normally being 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.)

Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to
develop until the late 19th century. They were the normal type of lead smelter
until the 18th century when they were partly replaced by the reverberatory
smelt mill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth in which lead
ore was mixed with fuel (initially dried wood and later a mixture of peat and
coal) An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a waterwheel
but on earlier sites may have foot operated. The slags from the hearth would
still contain lead which may be extracted by further smelting in a seperate
slag hearth.
Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths
whereas late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often large complexes
containing several ore and slag hearths, furnaces and chimneys and flue
systems. The ore hearth smelt mill site will also contain fuel stores and
other ancillary buildings. Lead mines and smelting sites 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 the lead industry such
features can be a major component of upland landscapes. A sample of the better
preserved sites illustrating the regional, chronological and technological
range of this class of monument is considered to merit protection.

Although Buckden Gavel mine is a small example, a wide range of features are
preserved and important information about the lead industry survives.
Buckden Gavel mill is one of the earliest examples in the area and a range of
features are preserved. Important evidence about the early technologies
employed in the lead industry in the region will survive.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Mines of Grassington Moor and Wharfedale, (1980), 78-79
Raistrick, A, Lead Mining in the Mid Pennines, (1973), 138-143
Dickinson, J M, 'British Mining' in Buckden Out Moor Lead Smelting Mill, , Vol. NO. 8, (1978), 38-39
Bassham, S, Wharfedale Lead Smelt Mills and Fume Condensation, 1992, Seminar abstract

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.