Ancient Monuments

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18th century copper mill 80m north west of Copper Mill Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Whashton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4448 / 54°26'41"N

Longitude: -1.7801 / 1°46'48"W

OS Eastings: 414354.411682

OS Northings: 505515.415762

OS Grid: NZ143055

Mapcode National: GBR JK01.DF

Mapcode Global: WHC65.MJJV

Entry Name: 18th century copper mill 80m north west of Copper Mill Bridge

Scheduled Date: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020321

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34823

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Whashton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Kirkby Ravensworth

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of the 17th and 18th
century copper smelt mill near Whashton. The monument is located on the west
bank of the beck, 50m upstream from Copper Mill Bridge, and includes the
buried remains of the smelt mill, wheelpit and areas of waste debris.
The monument lies at the eastern end of the Feldom Moor copper field, 5km
north west of Richmond. Copper has been extracted in the Richmond region since
the 15th century; a charter of Edward IV in 1454 refers to a `copper mine of
Richmond'. This area lies to the east of the Swaledale Mineral Belt in the
north eastern part of Northern Pennine orefield. On Feldom Moor a vein of
copper and lead, which extended for 1km, was worked by bell pits to extract
copper pyrite. This was then smelted at the mill located at the eastern end of
the vein. A mill known as Whashton High Mill was in existence in 1675. There
was still a mill at the site in 1728 when it belonged to John Ward and John
Appleby, who also held the lease for Feldom Mines. Based on the level of
technology at the Feldom mines their period of working, and consequently that
of the smelt mill, was probably late 17th to mid-18th century. It has been
estimated that the production of copper concentrate from the Feldom mines was
in excess of 400 long tons.
The remains of the smelt mill are located alongside the southern side of the
beck, in the lee of a natural bluff. The remains of the mill are centred on a
level terrace measuring approximately 15m by 20m, lying 15m south of the beck.
Between the terrace and the beck there is a circular hollow surrounded by an
earthwork. This has been interpreted as the wheel pit, which contained a water
wheel to provide power for the smelting furnaces. The wheel was powered by
water probably brought along wooden channels, known as launders, from further
up the beck. To the east of the terrace there are further earthwork remains of
the mill complex. The precise nature of these is currently unclear. On the
slope to the south of the terrace there are areas of waste from the milling
process, which will retain important technological information about the
smelting on the site. The visible waste includes slag and fragments of
malachite and covers an area of approximately 10 sq m.

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 early 19th centuries, as
perhaps it had also been in prehistory, British production was important on a
European scale.
The smelting of copper to produce pure metal was a complex process involving
prolonged and repeated roasting (heating without melting) before the roasted
ore was broken up and melted to form a matte (a solid mass of copper and iron
sulphides). This was followed by further roastings and remelting to refine the
metal. Due to the multiple processes, the consumption of fuel was great, and
smelting has typically been located close to fuel sources rather than to the
mines. The use of the reverbatory furnace was developed in the late 17th
century and dominated copper smelting from that date. Early reverbatory
furnaces consisted simply of a barn-like building containing the furnaces,
with chimneys projecting from the outer wall. The late 18th and 19th century
smelt mills were often larger complexes containing several smelting furnaces
and roasting furnaces for preparing the ore, together with systems of flues,
condensors and chimneys for pollution control and the recovery of sulphur.
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.

Despite its demolition, remains of Whashton smelt mill and associated features
survive well. The first mill on the site is early in date and the monument
will preserve important evidence of the development of an early small scale
smelting operation. The waste debris can also provide further significant
technological information.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dunham, , Wilson, , Geology of the North Pennine Orefield: Volume 2 Stainmore to Craven, (1985), 155
Raistrick, A, The Lead Industry of Swaledale and Wensleydale: The Mines, (1975), 110

Source: Historic England

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