Ancient Monuments

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Sam O'on Level and Panty O'on Stone, 200m NNE of Low Far Side

A Scheduled Monument in Bewerley, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0765 / 54°4'35"N

Longitude: -1.8336 / 1°50'1"W

OS Eastings: 410981.775171

OS Northings: 464524.051298

OS Grid: SE109645

Mapcode National: GBR HPM9.TF

Mapcode Global: WHC7W.TS0Q

Entry Name: Sam O'on Level and Panty O'on Stone, 200m NNE of Low Far Side

Scheduled Date: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017757

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30941

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Bewerley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument is situated on the north bank of the Gill Beck in Bewerley, 200m
NNE of Low Far Side, and includes the earthworks, rock cut features and buried
remains of the Sam O'on Level and the Panty O'on Stone.
The Sam O'on Level is a very small sough or mine drainage tunnel, extremely
primitive in execution, which is thought to drain a sequence of nearby
lead-mining shafts whose alignment it follows. Overlooking the Gill Beck on
its north side, the outlet is 0.3m square and certainly too small to have been
used, as many tunnels were, for access to mines as well as drainage. Its
simplicity and small size are thought to indicate a very early date in the
lead-mining history of the region. A series of low shaft mounds on the west
side of the Gill Beck, south of the level entrance, provide evidence of the
mining activity associated with the level, and are included in the scheduling.
The stone known variously as the Panty O'on Stone, Sam's Panty O'on or the Sam
O'on Stone, is named for its resemblance to stone ovens (o'ons) once used in
the area. It is a sub-rectangular boulder of sandstone grit, approximately
1.5m by 2m, which lies on a slope immediately south of the Sam O'on level. Out
of this substantial block has been carved a circular hollow, some 0.7m deep
and 1m in diameter, flat bottomed and pierced by a 0.4m wide opening of the
same depth as the hollow. Carved graffiti include initials 'JL', 'SS' and 'JS'
and the date 1886.
The site lies within an area where Fountains Abbey held mining rights during
the 13th and 14th centuries. An excavation in the early 1920s revealed pottery
dating from around 1450-1600 AD beside the stone, and a layer of finely
crushed fluorspar and calcite containing barytes pieces, downslope of the
stone. From this evidence, and because of its proximity to the Sam O'on Level,
it is concluded that the stone was used during medieval lead ore processing.
Its precise function has been much debated. The carving of the hollow
represents a considerable work, and its function evidently required it to be
sturdy and resistant to a high degree of wear. It has been described as an
early grinding mill operated by a rotary mechanism, as a 'stamps' for pounding
and washing ore, or a large mortar for crushing ore. The association of the
stone with early mining features and the discovery of medieval pottery around
it indicate a function associated with lead mining. The stone and buried
remains around it will provide further technological data and a fuller
understanding of technology in the early stage of the lead mining industry.
Modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, 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.
The ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture
of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were 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 size (either by manual hammering or by 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 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.
Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the
large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th
centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly.
Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an
industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved
sites (covering the regional, chronological, and typological variety of the
class) will merit protection.

The Panty O'on stone is unparalleled elsewhere, and the Sam O'on Level is a
uniquely primitive and early example of a sough, or horizontal drainage
tunnel. This drainage method became commonplace in lead mines from the 17th
century. Although often similar in appearance to adits (mine entrances),
soughs were driven solely for drainage; in the case of the Sam O'on Level the
size of the tunnel clearly precludes any other use. To lower the water table
in a mine, a sough would be driven from a lower contour in a neighbouring
valley. Soughs are more common in Derbyshire, where topography favours such a
method, and the location of the Sam O'on Level in the North Yorkshire orefield
is unusual.
The Panty O'on Stone and the Sam O'on Level will provide valuable
technological evidence about early lead mining. They demonstrate the primitive
technology that was employed to overcome problems of drainage and ore
processing, and will contribute to an understanding of early ore processing
In addition, buried remains will provide further information about the
relationship between the two features.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
N M R S Records, , 'British Mining' in The Sam Oon Stone, , Vol. 55, (1995), 160

Source: Historic England

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