The Elizabethan lead mine at Greenhead Gill, Grasmere

Coffin adit level on Brackenfell, Grasmere

Coffin adit level on Brackenfell, Grasmere

I wanted to go a bit more in depth, and describe in a separate post each of the four mining sites we have explored and surveyed in 2013 for the Windermere Reflections Project in further detail. Stupidly I have chosen to start with the most complex of them! Namely the Elizabethan lead mining complex at Greenhead Gill.

The Greenhead Gill mine complex is located in a narrow isolated ravine-like valley on the open fellside sandwiched between Stone Arthur and Rydal Fell to the north-east of Grasmere village. The documentary and archaeological evidence points to at least two separate phases of exploitation at the mine, the first was the relatively short-lived Elizabethan workings, which were one of several small scale workings established around Grasmere.  Then in the late-nineteenth century the original mine was reworked and exploratory excavations were undertaken to the south of the main complex using drilling and powder-blasting technology.

Surveying at Greenside Gill mine

Surveying at Greenside Gill mine

The Elizabethan workings were organised and run by the Company of Mine’s Royal under the guidance of Daniel Hechstetter and we are blessed with considerable documentary records that provide us with records of equipment, general layout of infrastructure and disbursement cost for construction, maintenance and wages. In certain cases, the sources can possibly be related to the archaeological evidence surveyed during the present project; these include a water wheel and stamp mill referred to in the documentation.

Sixteenth century depiction of a dry stamp mill

Sixteenth century depiction of a dry stamp mill

After the accession of Elizabeth to the throne in 1558 private enterprise of all sorts was encouraged, particularly that from which the crown would benefit through levy or taxation. Mining was one area in which the crown and wealthy landowners could benefit if the right mining expertise could be found. Discussions with the German mining company of Haug and Langnauer after 1561 paved the way for the creation of the Company of Mines Royal, via Letters Patent in 1564 for exploration purposes then incorporation by Royal Charter in 1568 as a new joint stock company. The company based themselves in Keswick, quickly establishing a smelter there and immediately setting to work prospecting and extracting ores of copper, lead, iron and silver at locations throughout the Lake District fells.

The site of some of the initial trials can be seen today on the exposed veins near Alcock Tarn, along with two coffin levels and related working at Brackenthwaite, located to the north of Dove Cottage.

Location of early lead mining around Grasmere

Location of early lead mining around Grasmere

The period between May 1568 and July 1569 is likely to have witnessed the main development of the mining operation at Greenhead Gill.  Initial work is likely to have concentrated at the northern end of the site where the most northerly of the four mineral veins at Greenhead Gill is visible in the beck. Early extraction is likely to have focused on the exposed mineral veins, resulting in the creation of the surface workings seen today on the western side of the gill and also higher up on Grains Gill. The sinking of both shafts was started during this period.

Elizabethan extractive pits and shafts - Greenhead Gill mine

Elizabethan extractive pits and shafts – Greenhead Gill mine

The earliest substantial workings are at the north end of the complex and consists of two vertical square-cut shafts with further open surface workings stretching between them. The steep hillslope has been cut back to a vertical edge by extraction and two slumped oval depressions are also evident. These workings are located just to the south of an ore-stained section of stream bed, which was presumably where the earliest trial surface working of the ore vein was undertaken. The only other potential Elizabethan era extraction is found at some distance upslope to the north-east of the main complex where there is a small stone wall retained working floor where the ravine has evidently been surface worked along the orientation of the ore vein.

Northern rock-cut shaft - Greenhead Gill mine

Northern rock-cut shaft – Greenhead Gill mine

Survey drawing of the northern half of Greenhead Gill mine

Survey drawing of the northern half of Greenhead Gill mine

In the wider area to the south-west of the main mine complex, there is evidence for extensive surface exploration in the form of a large curvilinear hushed channel located on the steep hillside west of Greenhead Gill. This excavation would have been used to chase near-surface deposits of the ore vein downslope of the main complex. Prospecting in the form of hushing was widespread during and after the Elizabethan period in the Lake District

Large hushed channel on the hillside above Greenhead Gill

Large hushed channel on the hillside above Greenhead Gill

In September 1569 ‘four great augers to bore the wooden pipes’ were transported from Grasmere to Newlands. This entry would suggest that at least one of the shaft was then supplied with either a suction or a paternoster or ‘rag and chain’ type pump. This would have been constructed of a series of connected hollowed-out sections of timber up which water was drawn from the shaft and to allow mining to continue. Shallow open workings could be dewatered by hand, winching the water to the surface in heavy wooden ‘kibbles’ however, this was impractical for deeper shaft workings where pumps would be needed. The account books for 1569 record that nine water kibbles (fashioned from wooden planks bound together by an iron band) were taken to the mine, and is the same year that a pump was installed.

Sixteenth century depiction of a suction pump

Sixteenth century depiction of a suction pump

While it was feasible to sort and crush small volumes of lead ore to a usable and transportable size by hand, the volume of lead ore being raised in 1568/9 from St Benedict’s shaft would have been too great to use manual methods economically. In May 1569 the head carpenter Wolffgang Hochholzer was involved in starting construction of the stamp mill; the felling and transportation of 63 oak trees and sixty thick planks to site is recorded in the company accounts for that month. By July the timber frame was complete, with work continuing to erect the stone walls and build the stamps. The stamp mill cost £107 7s 3d to complete, and was a huge investment for the time.

A later inventory drawn up by the Mines Royal of property surviving at the disused Grasmere mine recorded the stamp as measuring 36ft x 31ft and constructed of stone with lime and very good timber. The inventory for the stamp mill included a great waterwheel with axle tree, and three launder supports ‘standing without the howse for the troughs or water race of the great wheel’ . Beneath the stamps there were large ‘troughs’ which contained the ore during stamping, indicating that rather than being a ‘dry stamp mill’  this was a ‘wet stamp mill’ where the ore was crushed by the stamps within a steady flow of water. The water aided the separation of the heavier lead ore from the lighter gangue or natural rock while also washing the ore to assist with subsequent sorting and grading.

Sixteenth century depiction of a wet stamp mill and buddles

Sixteenth century depiction of a wet stamp mill and buddles

The ore raised from both shafts was presumably carried over in wooden ‘kibbles’, to the dressing floor for initial sorting and crushing by hand on a ‘bucking floor’. Given the quantities of ore being produced in 1569 it is possible that the ore store located on the edge of the working floor was built at this time.  The opening at the back of the surviving structure would have allowed ore to be tipped in from the rear and it still presently still contains ore-rich material. The main processing area has two phases of working superimposed with at least one nineteenth century dry-stone structure (a miners bothy) constructed on top of the Elizabethan platform.

Processing waste on the main working floor - Greenhead Gill mine

Processing waste on the main working floor – Greenhead Gill mine

The main Elizabethan processing area was where the reduction and sorting of veinstone into grades suitable for further processing took place, the ore would have been alternately dressed, stamp crushed and washed. The structure consists of a large trapezoidal working floor that has been levelled behind a platformed retaining wall on the east side of Greenhead Gill. Adjacent to the platform are a series of small enigmatic wall foundations on the southern end and some square areas that may be the locations of troughs, sorting tables or primary buddles for separating ore from the veinstone immediately adjacent to the stamp mill.

Detailed survey drawing of the Elizabethan mine and working area - Greenheasd Gill Mine

Detailed survey drawing of the Elizabethan mine and working area – Greenheasd Gill Mine

Platform for the Elizabethan stamp mill with later bothy on top - Greenhead Gill mine

Platform for the Elizabethan stamp mill with later bothy on top – Greenhead Gill mine

The ruinous bothy structure surviving on the working floor clearly post-dates the Elizabethan mine working, however, the northern end wall of this structure is of an earlier, more massive construction than the rest of the building, and it would appear that this is an earlier wall against which the bothy was built. The north wall  is most likely to be the load-bearing footing wall for a water wheel. This putative structure is too small in size when compared to the extent of the stamp mill recorded in the Elizabethan documents and it is likely that the stamp mill took up more space on the southern end of the working floor, as defined by the substantial kinked retaining wall on the west side.

The bothy and ore bin on the stamp mill platform - Greenhead Gill mine

The bothy and ore bin on the stamp mill platform – Greenhead Gill mine

The water wheel would have provided power for the Elizabethan stamp mill. When mounted on the bearing wall it would have been fed from a long water leat that runs diagonally down the steep slope for around 155m on the east side of Greenhead Gill towards the working floor from Rowantree Gill. The water would have been taken-off at the downslope northern end via a wooden launder running to the water wheel to provide power for the stamp mill, but could also have served to provide water for a wet stamp mill operation.

Survey drawing of the southern half of Greenhead Gill mine

Survey drawing of the southern half of Greenhead Gill mine

The other obvious surviving evidence for buddles are located to the south of the mine; where there is a group of adjoining buddles located in the base of a dried up streambed on the eastern side of Greenhead Gill. The streambed has been blocked on the upslope end and water has been taken off at a small dammed area.  The water would have been fed over a wooden launder, via a platform so as to regulate water flow onto and between the cascade of buddles, and then the water would have drained down and back into Greenhead Gill further downslope.

The survey has confirmed that Greenhead Gill is one of the most important early lead working sites in Cumbria which was relatively short-lived but forms an important facet of the Company’s exploration and subsequent exploitation of various metalliferous ores of the region during the Elizabethan era. The relatively untouched nature of the main mine complex and the surviving extant surface remains for both extraction and processing contemporary with the earliest working of the site demonstrate a very rare survival of comparable remains both for the region and nationally.

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Please close the gate!

Welcome to North Wales

Welcome to North Wales

I was once a little taken aback when I encountered this multi-locked gate up in the welsh hills near Llangollen.  It is not actually as forbidding as at first sight, as it is a gate onto a common that each farmer has access to. You spin the lock plate around and you only really have to open one lock to get on to the mountain 🙂

Windermere Reflections Community Archaeology 2012 – Fulling mills survey report online

Montage of volunteers surveying on the Windermere Reflections project 2012

Montage of volunteers surveying on the Windermere Reflections Project in 2012

As part of the 2012 season of community archaeology survey for the Windermere Reflections project, the Fulling mills survey report is now available online at the OA Library.

Just to recap I have already posted on the fieldwork for this season of the project in 2013. As part of the 2012 field season we collaborated with the National Trust and the Lake District National Park Authority on a community archaeology project using local volunteers to survey a series of five fulling mill sites. These were each located in the water catchment area of Windermere Lake in the Lake District. The project was intended to undertake a series of detailed topographic surveys and desk-based analyses of the potential ruinous fulling mills sites while providing support and training for volunteers in areas such as archaeological survey and archive research.

Volunteers doing both plane table and theodolite surveying at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

Volunteers doing both plane table and theodolite surveying at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

The project was financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was one of three community archaeology surveys that have been undertaken in the last two years under the banner ‘Reflections on History’ as part of a wider range of conservation and heritage themed projects under the umbrella of ‘Windermere Reflections’ for the Windermere Catchment Restoration Programme.

Windermere Reflections Logo

Topographic survey was undertaken between the 9th April and 5th May 2012 to identify, record, and describe any extant structures and features associated with the possible fulling mills. Desk-top historical survey of information pertinent to each site, including historical maps, and records held in the Armitt Library and Kendal Record Office took place on the 9th and 10th May 2012.

Drawing of a fulling mill taken from Theatrum Machinarum Novum (1661)

Drawing of a fulling mill taken from Theatrum Machinarum Novum (1661)

Fulling describes the process of cleaning and de-greasing woollen cloth, either with potash, dung and urine or fuller’s earth, and the pounding of the cloth to compact the fibres of the fabric. The pounding of the roughly woven woollen cloth was undertaken using large wooden hammers (known as stocks) which were lifted by cams on an axle turned by a water wheel. The stocks would act upon the cloth within a large fulling trough which also contained water and fuller’s earth. After fulling, the cloth would be washed, stretched and dried.

Location map of the five fulling mill sites investigated in 2012

Location map of the five fulling mill sites investigated in 2012

Four of the five sites examined by the survey are located within the northern part of the catchment, near the villages of Grasmere and Langdale, an area documented as important for fulling and weaving. The condition of the mills was variable, with one at Sourmilk Gill being an exceptional survival and representing an archetypal medieval fulling mill, whereas at Loughrigg Terrace, for example, there is reasonable survival of the water system but the mill remains are open to interpretation. Two of the mills, that at Sourmilk Gill and Stickle Ghyll, were originally stone founded structures, associated with well-defined water supply systems, comprising head race, wheel pit and tail race, and, at Sourmilk Gill, a launder platform also. Both mill structures were potentially reused and their operational life is uncertain.

Detailed topographic survey drawing of the Sourmilk Gill fulling mill

Detailed topographic survey drawing of the Sourmilk Gill fulling mill

At Loughrigg Terrace, the putative mill platform is only 4.5m by 2.6m in size and it is possible to conjecture that the stocks and trough would not have been contained within a building, although a simple timber structure could have been erected over the working components. There would, in any case, have only been room for a single stock hammer and trough.

Foundation remains of the fulling mill and race at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

Foundation remains of the fulling mill and race at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

The head and tail races were the most diagnostic features of all the mills, and often provided the most definitive evidence for a mill, notably at Loughrigg Terrace. The relatively limited water supply for many of these water wheels indicates that the supply would have been taken over the top of an overshot wheel (as opposed to an undershot wheel which required a large flow of water) using a wooden launder. These rarely survive; but a large stone platform for a launder survives at Sourmilk Gill.

Surveying the mill pond in Low Wood, Elterwater

Surveying the mill pond in Low Wood, Elterwater

At three of the mill sites (Sourmilk Gill, Low Wood and Little Ore Gate) a series of ponds survived, which drew water from a divert channel, although their function as part of the fulling process were potentially varied.

The process of fulling was bound into a broadly agricultural economy of mixed farming, including the rearing of sheep and shearing, as well as weaving and potash manufacture. Spatially associated with a number of the mills were stock pounds, arable farming remains and potash kilns, which reinforce the historical evidence that indicates that fulling was undertaken on a part-time basis alongside a large range of agricultural activities and was seasonal following on from the annual wool shear typically in mid-summer.

Gazebo malfunction at Loughrigg Terrace, by the side of Grasmere Tarn

Gazebo malfunction at Loughrigg Terrace, by the side of Grasmere Tarn

Special thanks must go to all of the volunteers who participated on the five survey projects, especially for their fortitude in ofter trying weather conditions.

Llyn Padarn and Bwlch Llanberis – July 2008

Llyn Padarn and the Pass of Llanberis - July 2008

Llyn Padarn and Bwlch Llanberis – July 2008

A nice summer photo for those people not enjoying the start of the frosty UK weather 🙂

Steamy! – Sunday visit to Bancroft Mill, Barnoldswick

Steamy old Lancashire boiler

Steamy old Lancashire boiler

Last Sunday we visited the museum at Bancroft Mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire which is located betwixt the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland. I can usually be persuaded to visit any sort of archaeology or heritage site in the land given the chance, and it so happened that my father in law was going to be dancing there as part of Stone The Crows a group of Border Morris dancers. This was on one of the periodic Heritage Steam Days when the boilers are stoked up and the preserved steam engine which would have once powered the long gone looms is put through its paces.

Bancroft Mill Museum in Barnoldswick, Lancashire

Bancroft Mill Museum in Barnoldswick, Lancashire

The Bancroft mill was a very late construction with the weaving shed only being commissioned in 1920 for James Nutter & Sons Limited, and the site may be the one of the last such mills constructed in the area. When the site closed down in 1979 the weaving shed was demolished but the engine house, chimney and boiler shed have subsequently been preserved and kept as a working steam museum.

Low pressure side of the horizontal cross compound Corliss valve condensing steam engine, Bardon Mill

Low pressure side of the horizontal cross compound Corliss valve condensing steam engine, Bancroft Mill

The engine house contains a 600hp cross compound engine by William Roberts of Nelson. On such an engine the cylinders and cranks are on either side of the flywheel. The cylinders of the engine are each individually named, with the low pressure side being called ‘Mary Jane’, and the high pressure side called ‘James’.

High pressure side of the horizontal cross compound Corliss valve condensing steam engine, Bardon Mill

High pressure side of the horizontal cross compound Corliss valve condensing steam engine, Bancroft Mill

The low pressure cylinder 'Mary Jane', Bancroft Mill

The low pressure cylinder ‘Mary Jane’, Bancroft Mill

Steam is now raised at the mill to power the engine by a Cornish Boiler, which itself had originally been installed at the mill to give auxillary power to supplement a larger Lancashire Boiler. The Lancashire Boiler is still on site but is now no longer fired up and is used as a water reservoir for the raising of steam.

The 120ft high chimney at Bancroft Mill

The 120ft high chimney at Bancroft Mill

The Lancashire boiler with Proctor automatic stoker, at Bancroft Mill

The Lancashire boiler with Proctor automatic stoker, at Bancroft Mill

The supplementary Cornish boiler in action at Bancroft Mill

The supplementary Cornish boiler in action at Bancroft Mill

The large number of looms which would have once produced cotton cloth have all long since been removed, although there is a single working example kept in the engine shed which is used to produce souvenir tea towels. All in all I would recommend the museum as an interesting afternoon out, particularly on a day when they have the engine working. The Bancroft Mill Engine Trust volunteers we met were all friendly and knowledgeable and the café by the entrance serves a reasonably priced mug of tea. As usual we also came away with a ‘Bancroft Mill’ emblazoned tea towel and a commemorative mug!

The J Pilling and Sons Ltd weaving loom, Bancroft Mill

The J Pilling and Sons Ltd weaving loom, Bancroft Mill

Stone the Crows border morris dancers at a Heritage Steam Day, Bancroft Mill

Stone the Crows border morris dancers at a Heritage Steam Day, Bancroft Mill

Stone the Crows border morris dancers with sticks! at Bancroft Mill

Stone the Crows border morris dancers with sticks! at Bancroft Mill

Popped out at lunch to see the Silverdale Hoard of viking treasure

Folded sheet lead container with cut ingot bullion

Folded sheet lead container with cut ingot bullion

Since I am now back in the office and report writing for the foreseeable future I thought it was about time I went over to see the Silverdale Hoard which is currently on show at Lancaster City Museum until the 21st December (before being permanently housed at the Museum of Lancashire based in Preston). I really have had no excuse to do this as it is a five minute amble down there from my cluttered work desk. Apologies in advance for the hasty nature of my snaps.

The Silverdale hoard main display case

The Silverdale hoard main display case

The hoard was discovered in September 2011 by a metal detectorist sweeping a field in Silverdale parish in the north of the county of Lancashire and near to the present day border with Cumbria. It is the fourth largest viking hoard to be found in the UK at just over 1 kg in weight of silver, and when found it was in a pouch-like container fashioned from a folded sheet of lead. The hoard probably dates to just after 900 AD, and contains 27 coins, 10 arm-rings, 2 finger-rings, 14 ingots, 6 brooch fragments, a fine wire braid and 141 fragments of arm-rings and ingots which had been chopped up and turned into hacksilver.

Group of three nested arm rings with a combination of Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian-style decoration

Group of three nested arm rings with a combination of Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian-style decoration

Bullion ring or currency ring

Bullion ring or currency ring

A few notable items are the coin of an unknown ‘Harthacnut’ from the early tenth century, a name previously only known from coinage of the eleventh century son of the famous King Cnut, and another ‘fake’ silver plated coin. ‘Pecking’ a practice of chipping of piece of metal from the coin to test whether it is genuine, has often been observed, but until recently no forgeries have ever been found from the period, clearly indicating the efficiency of the practice.  Last but by no means least, is a nest of armrings, containing a stamped motif, directly paralleled by an armring fragment found in the Cuerdale hoard from Cuerdale, also in Lancashire, which dates to, and was probably buried, around the same time.

Broad band arm ring with triple pelleted triangular stamped decoration

Broad band arm ring with triple pelleted triangular stamped decoration

Penannular arm ring decorated with transverse bar stamps of double saltires

Penannular arm ring decorated with transverse bar stamps of double saltires

Arm ring with elaborate punched decoration and riveted repair patch

Arm ring with elaborate punched decoration and riveted repair patch

The beginning of the tenth century was a period of some instability on the coasts around the Irish sea. In 902 the Viking had been expelled from Dublin by the Irish, and seem to have looked to the coast of North Wales, and North West England for places to settle. The Wirral peninsula contains a wealth of viking age material from this period found at Meols on the coast, and the hoards at Silverdale and Cuerdale both date to shortly after this. It was an expulsion that was to last 15 years until finally in 917 the vikings reclaimed Dublin.

Group of silver coins including English pennies (and Viking imitations), Arabic dirhems and Frankish deniers

Group of silver coins including English pennies (and Viking imitations), Arabic dirhems and Frankish deniers

Selection of hacksilver

Selection of hacksilver

Hacksilver fragments cut from penannular brooches

Hacksilver fragments cut from penannular brooches

Hacksilver fragment of broad band arm ring

Hacksilver fragment of broad band arm ring

Silver chain or braid of fine knitted wires

Silver chain or braid of fine knitted wires

Special thanks should go to my colleague Adam Parsons for information about the context to the hoard. Please check out his viking blog.

There are better images of the hoard group from when it was all laid out that were posted on Flickr by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and other images of the opening of the display in Lancaster on the BBC News website.

St Annes Kite Festival 2013

St Annes Kite Festival 2013

St Annes Kite Festival 2013

Just a couple of images from the Kite Festival in St Annes, Lancashire way back in July.

Panorama shot of the kite festival, from the pier at St Annes, Lancashire - July 2013

Panorama shot of the kite festival, from the pier at St Annes, Lancashire – July 2013

Bangarth and Blea Tarn iron mines, Eskdale – report online

Inside of the open drainage adit at the foot of Blea Tarn Mine

Inside of the open drainage adit at the foot of Blea Tarn Mine

The report for the Bangarth and Blea Tarn iron mines survey is now available online via the OA Library. OA North was invited by the National Trust to undertake a detailed topographic survey of two iron mines at Bangarth and Blea Tarn, in Eskdale, Lake District (NY 1538 0081 and NY 1676 0061: approximate centre). The survey was undertaken in March and November 2012.

Eskdale Iron Mines, 2012 Survey Locations

Eskdale Iron Mines, 2012 Survey Locations

The Eskdale mines comprise seven mines, or mine groupings, that were worked during the late nineteenth century and include Blea Tarn and Bangarth mines. A lease on the areas covering Bangarth and Nab Gill mines was taken by S and J Lindow in September 1845 and they initially focused on establishing levels at Nab Gill. Prior to 1854, however, they had putatively focused their workforce on ‘opencast’ extraction at Bangarth, which did not prove to be particularly successful and in c 1856 they withdrew from these operations. A subsequent attempt to mine Bangarth was made by Joseph Fearon in 1860, which was abandoned in the late 1860s.

The area between Nab Gill and Bangarth was leased by Faithful Cookson in the 1860s, who sub-let it to Whitehaven Iron Mines Ltd in 1871. This company established an additional level below the earlier Bangarth workings, and worked on four levels at the site, and began work at Blea Tarn mine, where they established seven. However, the vein narrowed as the works penetrated into the hillside and the company abandoned Bangarth in 1874 and the main focus of work was then directed onto the Nab Gill mine, which became the most successful of the operations in the area.

Peat storage hut, near Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Peat storage hut, near Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

The present survey has identified a complex archaeological resource at both Bangarth and Blea Tarn ironstone mines. Both mines are predated by elements associated with zigzagging trackways giving access onto the common for both stock grazing and peat cutting. Sites found adjacent to these trackways include small stone quarries, peat huts, sheepfolds and shelters. The area of Bangarth mine contains extensive evidence for cairnfields/field-systems of both earth and stone construction and stone-walled boundaries. Their considerable complexity, with areas of large consumption banks, interspersed with clearance cairns and probable later narrow ridge and furrow cultivation, point to multi-period use comprising at least small-scale cultivation and occupation on the now open common. There is evidence of two putative medieval shielings and a probably later demolished farmstead, as well as a platformed stock enclosure.

Part of the detailed topographic survey of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Part of the detailed topographic survey of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

The simplest distribution of mining features is that at Blea Tarn mine, which reflects that there was a single phase of development from 1871 which proved unsuccessful in finding extensive ore deposits. Elements of mine adits, trials and open cutting were evident on at least five levels, including a large drainage adit at the base of the mine.

The mining features at Bangarth mine are more complex reflecting initial stoped working of a sizeable lode at the mine from the mid-1840s through sporadic activity to the late 1860s and renewed exploration from 1871. Evidently, the extent of viable ore was such that it was deemed profitable to revisit the mine for further exploitation and, unlike at Blea Tarn mine, as is evident by the extensive spoil heaps and an inclined plane constructed for transport to the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway. On the upper part of the site the putative early stoping at the top of the mine has been worked and reworked as the large opencast pit has directly cut through the earlier workings; a series of truncated adit mouths, trials and spoil heaps indicate the earlier extraction operations.

Opencast pit at the summit of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Opencast pit at the summit of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

On the open common the mine was evidently worked on a further two levels where there are extant features associated with two open cuttings: a trial mine and an adit. Immediately downslope, below the modern enclosure wall, is another level of working consisting of a large platformed working floor with three adit mouths and the top of the inclined plane.

Upland Peat – Ingleborough

Ingleborough hillfort viewed from Simon Fell

Ingleborough hillfort viewed from Simon Fell

I am in the middle of spending a happy couple of weeks back out in the Yorkshire Dales in the vicinity of Ingleborough. We are doing another landscape survey in advance of a programme of peatland restoration works. The survey involves looking at peat erosion scars and any drainage gullies for exposed artefacts such as flint flake scatters. I haven’t managed to get to the summit of Ingleborough so far this year but I should do, weather permitting, by the end of the project.

Trow Gill, Ingleborough

Trow Gill, Ingleborough

As I have previously mentioned I am quite partial to limestone scenery and the patterns of erosion and the forces of nature that have shaped it greatly over time. The gorge at Trow Gill is a fine example and is located sandwiched between Ingleborough Cave and the Gaping Gill pot hole. It is particularly scenic at the southern mouth where you follow the footpath up into its narrow confines.

Ash tree growing out of a shake hole, Ingleborough

Ash tree growing out of a shake hole, Ingleborough

The shake hole pocked area is a contrast between elevated sparse grassland with swathes of blanket peat and lower scarp slopes with exposed limestone pavement fringes. It is on these lower slopes where the greatest concentration of archaeological sites are to be found.

Peat erosion at Lord's Seat, Simon Fell, Ingleborough

Peat erosion at Lord’s Seat, Simon Fell, Ingleborough

Today I was quite taken with the colour differentiations between the grassland, eroded areas of peat, standing water and sphagnum mosses.

Bright green moss

Bright green moss

Close up of bright green moss

Close up of bright green moss

Preston …. and beyond, the gateway to adventure!

Preston & beyond

Preston & beyond

Another day, another new upland project and another 5am start. I was quite taken by the thought of to ‘Preston & beyond[!]’, and the potential for adventures to be had ahead after my commute. I should have called my blog something similar in a cryptic fashion.

It is also pleasing to see that winter has arrived with some nice blasts of icy rain this morning. Not of course because I’m obsessed by the weather or anything 🙂