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Mohopehead leadmine and ore works

A Scheduled Monument in West Allen, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.8442 / 54°50'39"N

Longitude: -2.3594 / 2°21'33"W

OS Eastings: 377016.502107

OS Northings: 549989.109434

OS Grid: NY770499

Mapcode National: GBR CDYF.Z8

Mapcode Global: WH91P.QHNQ

Entry Name: Mohopehead leadmine and ore works

Scheduled Date: 9 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016349

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28554

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 a small leadmine and associated ore works
situated on the left bank of the River West Allen. The complex was active in
the early to mid-19th century between the 1820s and the 1850s.
The visible remains of the leadmine at Mohopehead are well preserved and
include an adit, a lodging shop and a spoil heap. The arched stone portal of
the mine adit is visible at the extreme western edge of the monument. It still
functions as a drainage tunnel and the stream which emerges from it crosses
the monument in a narrow channel which in places retains a covering of stone
flagging. Some 16m east of the adit there are the remains of a stone built
lodging house. The house, now a ruined structure, contains a large hearth at
its western end, suggesting that it was used as a blacksmith's forge. The
remains of a single pot conical limekiln with one corbelled draw arch are
visible immediately to the west of the lodging house. A trackway leads from
the area immediately in front of the adit to a prominent spoil heap which
occupies the south eastern side of the monument.
The ore processing works are situated at the north eastern side of the
monument. Once the lead ore had been removed from the mine it was stored in a
series of tall stone containers known as bouse teams. A set of bouse teams,
thought to be the best preserved example in the North Pennines, survive and
are Listed Grade II. The bouse teams are visible as a series of
eight apsidal bays of squared rubble construction, each separated from the
other by a stepped wall. They stand largely to their full height. Immediately
in front of the eastern end of the bouse teams there is a low stone platform
up to 11 courses high and flagged with large stones which is interpreted as a
loading platform. This stone structure is also thought to have been used as a
knock stone upon which the lead ore was placed and crushed by hand with
hammers in order to facilitate further processing. All stone walls and fences
which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features in 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.

The lead mine and ore works at Mohopehead are well preserved and are a good
example of a single phase small mine. The bouse teams are the best preserved
example in the North Pennines, which enhances the importance of the monument.

Source: Historic England


NY74NE 17,

Source: Historic England

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