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Bonsall Leys lead mines

A Scheduled Monument in Bonsall, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1132 / 53°6'47"N

Longitude: -1.6041 / 1°36'14"W

OS Eastings: 426594.607745

OS Northings: 357403.974373

OS Grid: SK265574

Mapcode National: GBR 591.WST

Mapcode Global: WHCDV.B0CP

Entry Name: Bonsall Leys lead mines

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1986

Last Amended: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017755

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30940

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Bonsall

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bonsall St James Apostle

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the ruined structures, earthworks and buried remains of
the Bonsall Leys (or Lees) lead mining area within two areas of protection.
Lead mining took place at Bonsall from the 1540s to the 19th century, and the
assoicated field remains are typical of lead working from extremely shallow
ore bodies. The earthworks include shallow pits and opencuts, with associated
hillocks of spoil and upcast. Opencut workings are most densely concentrated
in the north eastern corner of the monument, where at least ten parallel rakes
or `scrins' (shallow opencut workings following a vein close to the surface)
can be seen. These surface features are thought to be good evidence of early
smallholder-miners working the area in teams. A scarcity of small storage
buildings known as coes in the immediate area reinforces this interpretation,
being characteristic of early workings. By contrast well-preserved coes in the
area south of the road, topping vertical shafts and close to a ruined lime
kiln, demonstrate a continuity of lead exploitation paralleled by developing
technology. Large vertical shafts are seen throughout the site, some cutting
earlier opencut features.
The monument therefore includes a range of archaeological remains which
illustrate the nature and evolution of lead mining as it was practised in
Derbyshire. In addition to visible earthworks, buried remains will be
preserved beneath later development, providing further evidence of
mining activities.
The southern of the two areas lies south of Bonsall Lane, centred on SK 2676
5715, and includes earthworks, buried remains and other features including two
intact rectangular buddles (stone-line troughs where crushed ore was raked
against a flow of water to separate lead-rich particles). The water for these
was supplied from the mechanical drainage of a nearby shaft. This arrangement
is particularly illustrative of mining technology in Derbyshire, where
topography did not usually allow the use of water power. Further shafts lie to
the south of the buddles, and shaft mounds, spoil heaps, earthworks, buried
remains and ruined structures give additional context to the buddle-and-
shaft complex to the east.
Immediately south of Bonsall Lane is a group of well-preserved coes. These are
particularly good examples of their type, and amongst them are two double coes
containing double shafts. The second area of protection lies north of the
first, occupying land within a right angle formed by a bend in Bonsall Lane.
In its northernmost section there is a series of roughly parallel rakes
(sequences of open cuts following a lead vein close to the surface) and narrow
opencuts on a north west-south east alignment. All of these cuts are
associated with hillocks of spoil and dressing waste. A rectangular stone-
lined buddle survives on one such bank at SK 2666 5756, and a semi-circular
buddle served by a stone-lined channel is found on the opposite (northern)
side of the same rake. Both buddles are well preserved, and it is thought that
stratigraphy in this area will be valuable in understanding the associated
water management system. Most of the rakes are 1m-2m deep, approximately 2m
wide and up to 40m long, but the largest and most westerly runs for over 50m.
The north western end of this rake which terminates in a large shaft has been
obscured by stones and spoil dumping from modern land clearance. These remains
are not included in the scheduling. Numerous shafts of varying size and depth
are cut into or close to pre-existing rakes. In the south of this area further
opencuts and pits can be seen. In addition there are substantial dispersed
shafts and shallow pits, with spoil heaps and other earthworks, some
associated with ruined coes. Their character and date will be different to the
northern opencuts. Nearby features are expected to include the remains of
dressing floors.
Modern field boundaries and the surfaces of roads and paths are excluded from
the monument, 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.
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.

The Bonsall Leys site is thought to be unique in its representation of
intensive, small-scale lead working in post-medieval Derbyshire. It is
believed that the site's complexity is unparalleled, both in this orefield and
nationally. Many of its workings are characterised by the small scale and
low-technology approach which were typical of Derbyshire lead mining in the
post-medieval period. However, mining activity was by no means confined at any
time to only one part of the monument, whose richness of archaeology depends
partly on the complex relationships between its components.
The dense and well preserved surface remains will supply information on the
technology, history and development of lead mining. In addition to the
earthworks, buried remains are expected to include dressing floors and
information on early winding and/or drainage systems. Such remains can add
substantially to an understanding of technological and historical development
in this industry.
The components of this mining landscape are therefore essential to a full
understanding of its exploitation. Preserved buddles, two of which are found
in association with a shaft and two with open cut workings, give a
particularly clear demonstration of continuity in a changing technology. The
buddle and shaft complex provides a good illustration of arrangements to link
drainage and dressing functions. Two double coes containing double shafts are
particularly uncommon nationally.

Source: Historic England


Barnatt, J with Stroud, G, The Lead Mine Related Landscape of the Peak District, 1996, Report commissioned by EH
Barnatt, J, The Lead Mine Affected Landscape of the Peak District, 1995, Report commissioned by EH
Report for Peak National Park, Rieuwerts, J, Bonsall Lees Mines, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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