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Copper mine and medieval ridge and furrow north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church

A Scheduled Monument in Middleton Tyas, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4463 / 54°26'46"N

Longitude: -1.641 / 1°38'27"W

OS Eastings: 423375.357763

OS Northings: 505711.56198

OS Grid: NZ233057

Mapcode National: GBR JKZ0.JX

Mapcode Global: WHC67.RHRR

Entry Name: Copper mine and medieval ridge and furrow north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church

Scheduled Date: 7 March 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34826

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Middleton Tyas

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Middleton Tyas with Moulton

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of copper mines and the
standing ruins and buried remains of an 18th century engine house located to
the north, north west and east of St Michael and All Angels Church. Also
included are areas of medieval ridge and furrow lying within the area of
industrial remains. The monument lies to the south east of the village of
Middleton Tyas. The monument is in two areas of protection. One includes part
of the woodland to the east of the church, where the remains of the engine
house are located, and the bulk of the field to the north of the church which
contains remains of mines and ridge and furrow. The second area lies in the
fields to the north west of the church and contains remains of the mines and a
spoil tip as well as further areas of ridge and furrow.
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. The copper deposits at Middleton Tyas were some of
the highest grade ore in Europe, although the amount was small. The first
copper at Middleton Tyas was discovered in a quarry in c.1733. Trials in 1736
and 1738 were unsuccessful but profitable workings had been established by
1742 on land belonging to Lady d'Arcy. Further deposits were soon being
exploited on neighbouring land by the Hartley family and by the Rev'd
Tissington. Despite the close proximity of their different workings there was
great rivalry between the owners, which is attested to in documents of the
period. The mines at Middleton Tyas suffered from extensive flooding and this
was initially dealt with by using hand pumps. By 1752 the inadequacy of this
method was apparent and by November of that year at least two pumping engines
powered by horses were in use. These too proved unequal to the task and in
1753 two steam powered, coal fired, pumping engines were under construction.
One of these built by the Rev'd Tissington was of the Newcomen type and
remains of the engine house for this survive to the east of the church. In
1755 there was a further advance in the pumping technique when ropes were
replaced by slide rods. These were able to transmit motive power uphill over a
distance of 200m. This more efficient pumping made it possible to reach
the under-bed of the ore and consequently output increased. By 1763 the
recoverable ore at Middleton Tyas was virtually exhausted and mining appears
to have ceased by 1779.
The copper ore at Middleton Tyas was found in three major veins crossing
through the area of the monument. Two of these extended north west, past the
church, from Kirk Beck and the third lay square to these and extended north
east to the east of Layberry Plantation. The mining activity was concentrated
along the lines of these veins. The areas of mining survive as circular mounds
of earth, known as shaft mounds, surrounding a central hollow. These are
formed by spoil from the excavation of shafts sunk into the ore bearing
rock dumped around the shaft head. Some of the shafts were linked together by
underground galleries, which followed the veins of ore and acted as drainage
levels. The mounds are up to 8m in diameter and 2.3m in height. There are over
30 such shaft mounds within the area of the monument the majority being
clustered into widely spaced groups located along the line of the veins. The
largest group contains seven mounds and is located to the east of Layberry
Plantation centred on NGR NZ23400580. Other groups of mounds are located at
NGRs NZ23250576, NZ23450570 and NZ23350563. Further individual shaft mounds
are also located within the woodland to the east of the church.
The spoil tip is located in the western part of the monument at NGR
NZ23300564. It survives as a long low mound measuring 70m north to south by
40m east to west and stands 2.5m high. It was formed from the spoil and waste
material produced from the wider mining procesess as opposed to the shaft
mounds which were created from the excavation of the individual shafts.
The remains of the engine house are located on the flat ground at the base of
the slope to the east of the church. The engine house lies at the northern
side of a complex of ruined buildings, which are also thought to have included
a boiler house, fuel store, offices and stores. The walls of the buildings
survive to a height of up to 1.6m. The power from the engine was transferred
uphill to the north west, to the shafts to the north of the church. Initially
ropes were used but these were replaced by metal slide rods which represented
the final development of the pumping. The slide rods were supported by 25
cylindrical rollers which allowed the rods to move easily with the minimum of
friction. Remains of the rollers and their supports will survive in the
woodland. Access to the engine house was provided by a track curving down the
slope from the north west. Where the track extends down the slope it is
revetted on each side with stone and in places runs through a cutting
constructed to reduce the gradient and to allow the rod-way to pass over it
The ridge and furrow survives in the open land throughout the monument. It
includes substantial blocks of rounded parallel ridges up to 8m wide and 0.4m
high. These are separated by furrows up to 4m wide. In the area to the east
the ridge and furrow extends west to east down the slope. In this area it is
overlain by remains of field boundaries associated with the post-medieval
parliamentary enclosure which survive as banks and ditches. In the western
area the ridge and furrow is orientated north to south and extends beyond the
area of the monument. The ridge and furrow is the remnant of the agricultural
regime associated with the settlement of Middleton Tyas. Its origins date to
the medieval period and it is known that it was in use up to the establishment
of the copper mining.
There are further isolated shaft mounds located in surrounding fields and
woods which are not included in the monument. The copper extracted was
processed at mills in the area. The precise location and nature of survival of
these is currently unknown.
All fences, gates and telegraph poles 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.

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. 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. In the medieval period settlements
were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large,
unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips (known as landes) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams
produced long, wide ridges. The resultant `ridge and furrow' where it
survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system.
Individual strips or landes were laid out in groups known as furlongs
defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral
grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields.
Well-preserved ridge and furrow, is both an important source of
information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to
the character of the historic landscape. The Middleton Tyas copper mines
survive well and important evidence of the extraction processes will
survive. The remains of the engine house complex retains important
evidence of early steam powered engines and will contribute to the wider
understanding of the development of the technology. The ridge and furrow
surviving within the industrial remains also survives well and is evidence
of changing land use over time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Abramson, P, An Archaeological Assessment and Field Survey.. Burial Ground, (1996)
Hornshaw, T R, Copper Mining in Middleton Tyas, (1975)
Hornshaw, T R, Copper Mining in Middleton Tyas, (1975)

Source: Historic England

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