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Long Work 16th and 17th century copper mines, 400m north west of Waterfall Buttress

A Scheduled Monument in Borrowdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5352 / 54°32'6"N

Longitude: -3.1962 / 3°11'46"W

OS Eastings: 322698.04313

OS Northings: 516201.847849

OS Grid: NY226162

Mapcode National: GBR 6J30.V1

Mapcode Global: WH70K.W86M

Entry Name: Long Work 16th and 17th century copper mines, 400m north west of Waterfall Buttress

Scheduled Date: 25 June 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019944

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34953

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Borrowdale

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Thornthwaite cum Braithwaite with Newlands

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Long Work 16th and 17th century opencut copper mines,
prospecting trenches and pits, ore dressing floors, and the remains of an
associated building. It is located on the hillside on the western side of
Newlands Beck in the upper reaches of the Newlands Valley.
An opencut is a process of mineral extraction whereby the ore is worked
directly from the surface resulting in a linear opening along the mineral
vein. Such extraction processes typically survive as a gully or ravine. The
Long Work Vein runs from east to west and yielded the ores malachite and
copper pyrite; the remains are described in spacial order from east to west.
At NY22871619 are two discrete ore dressing floors located close to Newlands
Beck, each consisting of a small area of dressing waste and each possessing an
in situ stone mortar or anvil for hand-crushing the copper ore. A short
distance to the west there is a long, linear opencut with considerable amounts
of spoil and dressing waste to the north and a discrete circular dressing
floor to the south. Also to the south of the opencut are the fragmentary
remains of an associated drystone building of unknown function. Between the
opencut and Far Tongue Gill there are traces of small prospecting trenches and
pits. At NY22671620 Far Tongue Gill has cut through a spoilheap associated
with an opencut on the western side of the gill. This opencut is a long,
linear feature with spoil and dressing waste on its north side. A short
distance north of the spoil and dressing waste two lumps of gossan, the
weathered surface of the mineral vein, have been dumped. On the steepening
hillslope to the west of the opencut there are a number of small prospecting
pits and trenches.
Documentary sources indicate that the earliest working at Long Work commenced
about 1565 and that the mine was one of many in the Keswick area which were
worked by the Mines Royal Company who, during the 16th and 17th centuries,
were leaders in European mining technology. Extensions to the mine were made
in about 1690 and this latter work continued until the very early years of the
18th century after which the mines were abandoned.
A drystone-walled sheepfold constructed partly within the opencut west of Far
Tongue Gill and upon the opencut's associated spoilheap and dressing waste,
together with a number of wooden fenceposts, 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.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Copper was extracted in Britain intermittently from the Early Bronze Age
(about 2000 BC) until the early 20th century, after when the industry was
confined to by-product production and small scale reworkings of mines and
dumps. There is very limited evidence for copper mining before the 15th and
16th centuries, and most known sites are of later date, principally of the
industry's 18th and 19th century peak after it had been revitalised by
developments in smelting technology. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as
perhaps it had also been in prehistory, British production was important on a
European scale.
Nucleated copper mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by
copper 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 and power transmission features such as
wheel pits and leats. The majority of nucleated copper mines are of 18th to
20th century date, earlier mining being normally by rakes, opencuts and open
levels, and including scattered ore dressing features.
An essential part of a copper mining site is the 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 can be summarised as:
picking out clean lumps of ore and waste; hammering (breaking down lumps to a
smaller size by manual hammering or by mechanical crushing); jigging
(separation of gravel-sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water;
and buddling (separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste
in a current of water). Field remains of ore works include crushing devices,
separating structures and tanks and tips of distinctive waste from the various
processes, together with associated water supplies. Simple ore dressing
devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the large majority date
from the 18th to 20th centuries, when technology evolved rapidly.
During English Heritage's national evaluation of the copper industry, 130
sites were assessed. This is a highly select sample of the numbers of sites
that historically existed in England; although there are no national
estimates, for the south west alone an estimate has been made of over 10,000
sites. It is considered that protection by scheduling is appropriate for less
than 50, with alternative means of protection or management being considered
more appropriate for the other nationally important sites.

Long Work copper mine and its associated spoil heaps, dressing floors and
prospecting pits and trenches survives reasonably well and is a rare example
of a 16th and 17th century copper mine which has remained largely untouched
since abandonment. As one of the mines owned by the Mines Royal Company it is
of major importance for the study of post-medieval mining in Britain, and in
particular for the degree or otherwise of German influence on British mining

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Adams, J, Mines of the Lake District Fells, (1995), 32-3

Source: Historic England

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