What we do
Middle Greenlaws Level lead mine and ore works
This small site is on the north-facing slopes of High Pike in Weardale, in a shallow valley containing the Daddryshield Burn. Some of the mine spoil was washed down by floods in 1995 to bury the remains of mid-19th century ore works, but two level portals (one a horse level), a wheelpit and nine bouse teams remain.
The wider area of Greenlaws Mine also includes Greenlaws Hush to the west and other level entrances and water management features. The Greenlaws West vein was worked by hush and shafts from at least 1818, but the mine was most productive when the Greenlaws East Vein was worked from 1850 to 1907. Signs of later unsuccessful trial workings can still be seen.
A level area, 50x40m north of the bouse teams, is the upper washing floor. This also has a set of six bouse teams and a revetment wall with steps down to a second washing floor with the remains of a wheelpit, mine shop and other structures. A trackway from here passes under a spoil heap through a 35m arched tunnel. The mineshop is now used as an agricultural store. The rectangular enclosure by the upper washing floor was a timber store.
The volunteers completed 15 condition assessment forms, all within the Scheduled Monument boundary. Eight features were identified as at high risk. The main threats were from erosion from the burn, flooding, weather damage and collapse.
Photos of Middle Greenlaws, taken by volunteers to support the condition assessment forms, can be viewed at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oresome/albums
Much of this site has been disturbed by land use and flooding, so there are only two small areas of calaminarian habitat remaining. These include small populations of the metallophytes spring sandwort (Minuartia verna) and mountain pansy (Viola lutea), growing with thyme (Thymus polytrichus), common mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum), sheeps fescue (Festuca ovina), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) and pale thread-moss (Bryum pallens) All these are typically associated with lead mines.
Wet ground elsewhere supports a variety of sedges, but otherwise the site has little botanical interest. Further details can be found in the botany report.
The substantial spoil heaps contain rich examples of mineralised rock and vein minerals representative of both the Greenlaws deposits and typical of many Weardale deposits. In this respect the Greenlaws spoil heaps offer some of the best surviving examples of their type within the orefield. There are also good sections through the succession of Carboniferous rocks from a horizon a few metres above the Three Yard Limestone (downstream from the site) upwards to the Four Fathom Limestone. There are clear exposures of inclined bedding within the Four Fathom Limestone in the Daddryshield Burn. Further details can be found in the geology report.
Highlights on the archaeological, botanical and geological interest at Middle Greenlaws Level can be found in the summary report.