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Greenburn copper mines and associated ore processing works

A Scheduled Monument in Coniston, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.4081 / 54°24'29"N

Longitude: -3.0968 / 3°5'48"W

OS Eastings: 328907.800439

OS Northings: 501953.758104

OS Grid: NY289019

Mapcode National: GBR 6KTG.CL

Mapcode Global: WH716.DGLK

Entry Name: Greenburn copper mines and associated ore processing works

Scheduled Date: 23 April 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020925

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34993

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Coniston

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Coniston and Torver

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Greenburn
copper mines and its associated ore processing works. It consists of the
remains of all mining operations including levels or adits, shafts, trials
and spoil heaps; the remains of all ore dressing areas, ore processing
buildings and all other associated buildings; the water management system,
and numerous trackways and the remains of a tramway. These features are
located over a large area with the main ore processing area and some of
the levels, shafts and trials lying close to Greenburn Beck mid-way along
the Greenburn Valley, whilst high on the northern slopes of Wetherlam are
the Pave York Levels, the Long Crag Level and the Upper Workings on Long
Crag Vein.

The earliest date when mining began at Greenburn is unknown, however,
documentary sources indicate that a reasonably intense and prolonged
period of mining had been in existence by 1690. In the late 18th and early
19th century leases were offered by the landowner for prospecting and
mining but there is no record of what work was done during that period. By
1848 at the latest the Engine Shaft and Long Crag Level were in operation
and until the early 1860s the mines underwent their most intensive period
of production and expansion. After this the mines were less intensively
worked by a succession of companies until about 1885. In 1906 the
Greenburn and Tilberthwaite Syndicate took on the lease, mining the Pave
York Vein and constructing an inclined tramway from the Middle Level down
which to transport the ore for crushing. Operations appear to have been
run down or terminated after only two or three years, but in 1912 the
Langdale Silver, Lead and Copper Company took on the lease and mined for
the following five years. In the mid-1920s the Greenburn and Tilberthwaite
Mining Company was formed but little mining is recorded and in 1940 the
company was dissolved.

The highest workings are the Upper Workings on Long Crag Vein at
NY28610142. These consist of three closely-spaced levels with spreads of
waste tumbling downslope, together with a dilapidated three-sided shelter
facing a level platform which was evidently used as a spalling floor for
the primary dressing of large lumps of ore. Some 90m below is Long Crag
Level with a small stone-built shelter near its entrance which is thought
to have offered protection while blasting was taking place. About 40m
downslope are the remains of a single-roomed building which served as a
smithy and probably a store and shelter also. The Pave York Levels
consists of three levels, Top, Middle and Bottom. Top Level is located at
NY29110160. About 35m lower down is Middle Level with faint traces of a
blast shelter close to its entrance and traces of the top of the tramway
which connected it with the valley. Bottom Level lies about 40m further
downslope at NY29100174. Much lower down the valley side lies the Gossan
Vein Shaft, now flooded, with an area of trial holes nearby, and the
Gossan Vein Level which has the remains of a small blast shelter near its
entrance.

Remains close to the valley floor include, from west to east, a
substantial dam on the east side of Greenburn Reservoir with spillways at
the north and south ends, numerous trials on the Low Gill and Sump Veins,
a small dam across a tributory of Greenburn Beck with a leat running off
it, Low Gill Vein Shaft and Sump Vein Trial Shaft, more trials, a dam
across Greenburn Beck with a leat running off it, numerous trackways, Sump
Vein Shaft and an adjacent spalling floor and Sump Vein Level. Centred at
approximately NY29050218 is the main ore processing area containing the
remains of a wide variety of structures and features. These include
spalling floors, spoil tips, one of which covers the Buried Gossan Vein
Level, leats, trackways, the site of an early water wheel, an engine house
and adjacent wheelpit, a crushing mill, the Engine Shaft complete with an
in situ pump rod and an adjacent trial shaft. There is also a modified
building originally housing a `grate' or sieve where large lumps of ore
could be removed and broken up by hand, two buildings either side of a
wheelpit which housed crushers and stampers, a crushing mill which was
later converted to a store, a building adjacent to a wheelpit which housed
a type of sieve known as a jigger and the bottom end of the tramway. The
remains of two precipitation tanks survive which held sulphuric acid which
was used to precipitate the copper from the crushed copper oxide ore and a
nearby ore chute down which the ore was transferred to the precipitation
tanks. A slime tank and adjacent structure, buildings housing round
buddles where water washed over the fine ore to separate heavier
ore-bearing particles also survive. A substantial range of three buildings
comprising workers accommodation, an office and a smithy, a dry store, two
loading bays, a store where ore ready for smelting was housed prior to
transportation, and an explosives store survive, although ruinous. Towards
the eastern end of the monument there are two more trials together with
the Greenburn Shaft and the Greenburn Beck Level.

All modern fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.
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.

Despite the ruinous condition of the buildings, Greenburn copper mines
remain a relatively well-preserved extensive and impressive mining
landscape containing the remains of a wide range of upstanding and buried
mining components dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. These
include levels, shafts, trials, water management systems for powering
machinery, remains of transportation systems for moving ore, remains of
buildings associated with ore processing, spoil heaps, dressing waste and
remains of a range of associated buildings. Overall the Greenburn copper
mines are important because they contain surviving traces of most of the
episodes of industrial activity on the site and enable the relationship of
the extraction and processing areas to the industrial landscape that
supported them to be well understood.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Survey Report, Oswald, A and McOmish, D and Ainsworth, S, Greenburn Copper Mine, Cumbria, (2001)
Survey Report, Oswald, A and McOmish, D and Ainsworth, S, Greenburn Copper Mine, Cumbria, (2001)
Survey Report, Oswald, A and McOmish, D and Ainsworth, S, Greenburn Copper Mine, Cumbria, (2001)

Source: Historic England

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