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Beldon lead mine and ore works at Beldon Shields

A Scheduled Monument in Hunstanworth, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.8406 / 54°50'26"N

Longitude: -2.1124 / 2°6'44"W

OS Eastings: 392877.902278

OS Northings: 549542.285747

OS Grid: NY928495

Mapcode National: GBR FDPG.GK

Mapcode Global: WHB2Y.JL9F

Entry Name: Beldon lead mine and ore works at Beldon Shields

Scheduled Date: 14 June 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016462

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28594

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Hunstanworth

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Blanchland with Hunstanworth

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of Beldon lead mine and ore works, situated
on two levels on the floor of the narrow Beldon Burn. The Beldon mine worked a
number of small lead veins but the extent of the underground workings are
unclear. The visible remains of the lead mine and ore works belong to two
separate periods. The first ran from the 18th century, when the mine opened,
until its closure by 1820. The mine was enlarged in 1805, when it is thought
that a Boulton and Watt steam engine was installed. The mine along with the
ore works was worked once again during the 1860s-70s.
The remains of the lead mine are visible as a series of earthworks and ruined
buildings and structures. Acess to the mine was gained by two stone lined
shafts, both of which are thought to belong to the first phase of mining; the
first shaft, situated at the north west corner of the monument, is 10m square
and its upper parts are visible as lengths of rubble walls partially obscured
by spoil and waste material. Some 20m to the south, beyond a series of spoil
heaps, lies the second shaft. This shaft is roughly circular in shape and is
water filled. In addition to the two shafts there is also an adit situated
immediately south east of the circular shaft. The adit is visible as two
parallel rubble walls standing 2m high. The stone portal is buried beneath
spreads of rubble. Immediately to the east of the latter there are further
ruined structures, which it is thought may be the remains of a series of bouse
teams, tall stone containers in which the mined ore was stored prior to
Attached to the south side of the circular shaft there are the remains of the
engine house, thought to have housed a Boulton and Watt Rotary steam engine;
the lower courses of this building are visible as a series of rubble walls 8m
wide standing to a maximum height of 3m. The interior of the engine house is
filled with the collapsed upper courses and is thought to preserve further
features within it. Some 30m to the east there is a two roomed building
measuring 12m by 6m with a small annexe attached to each gable and a low
enclosing wall around the south and east sides. The walls stand to a maximum
height of 3m on the eastern side and small blocked windows are visible in the
south and east walls. This building is thought to be the mine workshop and
smithy. Immediately to the east of the workshop there is a roughly circular
enclosure surrounded by a low wall 0.5m high and bounded on the east by the
foundations of a small building. The enclosure contains several depressions,
of which at least one may be the remains of an old shaft. The small building
measures 6m by 2m and stands to a height of 0.5m. Attached to its northern end
are the foundations of a circular structure 2m in diameter and interpreted as
the remains of a chimmney. This building is thought to belong to the earliest
phase of mining at the monument.
The remains of the Beldon ore works include evidence for a range of
processing activities. Situated between the latter building and the bend in
the river there is an extensive dressing floor where many of the ore
processing operations were carried out. The dressing floor is visible as a
level piece of ground containing several discrete spreads of waste and sorted
material. In addition to the waste, several earthworks of platforms and
hollows are visible contained within a low bank.
Immediately to the north of, and on a higher level than, the dressing floor
there are further features associated with ore processing activities. These
include a prominent flat topped rectangular embankment measuring 60m by 5m,
revetted with retaining walls standing to a height of 6m. At the eastern end
of the embankment there are the lower courses of a range of stone structures
terminating in a rectangular stone lined wheel pit. A single stone pillar at
one end of the wheel pit is thought to have supported a wooden launder which
it is thought ran along the top of the embankment. A well preserved culverted
tail race runs from the wheel pit eastwards across the monument towards the
Beldon Burn. On the north side of the embankment a channel runs to the site of
a crushing mill near the square shaft at the north west corner of the
monument; it is thought that this channel held a series of flat rods to power
the crushing mill.
All wooden fence posts which cross the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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.

Beldon Burn lead mine and oreworks are well preserved and retain significant
archaeological deposits. This is a good example of a small, relatively
undisturbed North Pennine lead mine with two well defined and dated phases.
The importance of the monument is increased by the survival of a wide range of
components including some unusual features.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dennison, E, Beldon Mine, Blanchland, (1997)
Lead Industry Site Assessment: Step 3&4, 1996,

Source: Historic England

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