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Fletcheras Rake lead workings

A Scheduled Monument in Alston Moor, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7839 / 54°47'2"N

Longitude: -2.4005 / 2°24'1"W

OS Eastings: 374336.96679

OS Northings: 543297.663491

OS Grid: NY743432

Mapcode National: GBR CFP3.2W

Mapcode Global: WH922.304X

Entry Name: Fletcheras Rake lead workings

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017447

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29009

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 includes the earthwork remains of a range of extensive lead
mining and prospecting techniques, including shallow shaft working along rakes
and small scale hushing. It also includes an area of coal mining remains that
follow a coal outcrop along the hillside at the southern end of the monument
and deposits of both mine spoil and ore processing waste. The monument extends
north eastwards up the side of a valley towards the summit of Middle Fell.
In the medieval period the mines of Alston Moor were of great importance
nationally, being part of the `mines of Carlisle'. The lead ore mined in the
mid-12th century is thought to have been especially rich in silver and was
used by the royal mint at Carlisle. The first documentary reference to mining
on Alston Moor is in 1130. Specific references to individual mines (rather
than broad mining areas) are rare in the medieval period. Fletcheras mine is
first referred to by name in 1475, when it was granted (along with three other
mines) to the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Northumberland and two merchants
by Edward IV. It is thought that small scale mining continued on Fletcheras
Rake on an intermittent basis until the mid-19th century. In the north
easternmost part of the monument the well preserved earthwork remains of at
least six shafts are visible in the form of shaft mounds, typically 1m high.
Three of these are interpreted as whimsey shafts - shafts with associated gin
circles, where a horse walked a circular path around the top of the shaft to
operate a winding drum raising ore from the mine. The shaft locations can be
identified as grassed over hollows. Across the fieldwall to the south west
there is an extensive area of shafts surrounded by ore processing wastes. Ore
raised from the shafts was manually dressed (processed) to remove some of the
waste minerals and concentrate the lead content before it could be smelted to
produce usable lead metal.
Archaeological deposits associated with some of these techniques (which
included the use of hammers, sieving in tubs of water and washing material in
streams of water) will survive as buried features. In this area, Fletcheras
vein is crossed by a cross-cut vein (Old Groves) which follows a north-south
fault line. This vein is marked by shallow surface workings with
interconnecting shaft hollows and spoil mounds forming a typical lead rake
which appears as a grassed over area of earthworks up to 2m high. A 250m
sample length of particularly well preserved earthworks is included in the
scheduling to protect the close relationship between the two sets of workings.
Downhill from the cross-cut vein, the workings on Fletcheras vein continue as
rake workings with shafts surrounded by mine spoil and areas of dressing
wastes. The area is bisected by a north east to south west field boundary. To
the west of this there is a series of shallow gullies (between 0.5 and 1m
deep) running downhill. These are identified as the earthwork remains of
prospecting hushes, where controlled torrents of water were used to remove
overburden in the hope of exposing new lead deposits. Forming part of the
eastern boundary of the monument is a stream which is believed to have been
artificially channelled in part. Further downhill a leat runs ENE from this
stream to feed a hush that is broader than any of the prospecting hushes. This
hush crosses the line of the vein and appears to have been partially worked as
an opencut (the vein being worked by quarrying). Water from the leat would
have been used to wash away waste material, and may also have been used for
ore dressing. The line of the rake continues to the south west and downhill
from this hush, with irregularly spaced shafts, some with associated spoil
mounds and gin circles. Just uphill from High Hundybridge House, at the
south west end of the monument, there are the earthwork remains of a series of
levels with short spoil finger tips (made up of shale) at their collapsed
entrances. These are the remains of shallow adit workings along a coal outcrop
and uphill, and to the north east, there are a number of shafts that are
interpreted as air shafts for these levels. A sample area of these workings
have been included within the scheduling to preserve the relationship between
the lead and coal mining remains.
The drystone fieldwalls and all modern fencing are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.
Lead rakes are linear mining features along the outcrop of a lead vein
resulting from the extraction of relatively shallow ore. They can be broadly
divided between: rakes consisting of continuous rock-cut clefts; rakes
consisting of lines of interconnecting or closely-spaced shafts with
associated spoil tips and other features; and rakes whose surface features
were predominantly produced by reprocessing of earlier waste tips (normally in
the 19th century). In addition, some sites contain associated features such as
coes (miners' huts), gin circles (the circular track used by a horse operating
simple winding or pumping machinery), and small-scale ore-dressing areas and
structures, often marked by tips of dressing waste.
The majority of rake workings are believed to be of 16th-18th century date,
but earlier examples are likely to exist, and mining by rock-cut cleft has
again become common in the 20th century. Rakes are the main field monuments
produced by the earlier and technologically simpler phases of lead mining.
They are very common in Derbyshire, where they illustrate the character of
mining dominated by regionally distinctive Mining Laws, and moderately common
in the Pennine and Mendip orefields; they are rare in other lead mining areas.
A sample of the better preserved examples from each region, illustrating the
typological range, will merit protection.

Fletcheras Rake is documented from 1475. It retains a wide range of well
preserved features that have resulted from four centuries of mining activity,
all concentrated within a relatively small area. The archaeological remains to
the north east of High Hundybridge survive well and represent a good
concentration of surface and buried features, for both the lead and coal
industries. These provide evidence for both the historical and technological
developments of this upland mining landscape. Buried features, particularly
the remains of horse-powered winding mechanisms, will survive in the vicinity
of the shafts. The lead mining features will, in turn, retain information for
manual ore processing techniques and for post-medieval mining activities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Raistrick, A, Jennings, B, A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines, (1983), 48-49
Blanchard, I, 'Boles and Smeltmills' in Technical Implications of the Transition from Silver to Lead , (1992), 9-11
Dunham, K C, 'Tyne to Stainmore' in Geology of the Northern Pennine Orefield, , Vol. Vol 1, (1990), indexed

Source: Historic England

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