Mines of Mendip


Introduction

  The mines on Mendip are not untypical of those in carboniferous limestone in that they were often extensions of existing caving systems, or sometimes intersected natural passageways as they were worked.  Many of the mines were little more than shallow surface workings, known locally as 'rakes', leaving behind what is termed 'gruffy ground', although some did of course run underground to greater or lesser extents.

  Materials extracted were as follows :
 - Lead ore; Galena (Lead Sulphate-PbS).  This was the predominant metaliferrous material.
 - Zinc ore; Calamine (Zinc Carbonate-ZnCO3) and Blende (Zinc Sulphide-(Zn,S)Fe)
 - Ochre (Hydrates of Iron).
  (A concise overview of the minerals, their development and extraction on Mendip, has been created by the British Geological Survey (BGS) - check it out here.)

  Mining of lead on Mendip would have occurred prior to the arrival of the Romans, but it was they who first exploited the mineral wealth here on a more industrial scale.  Much of the lead ore must have been at or near to the surface, such that few underground workings from this time exist, yet they left several extensive dumps of extracted/processed ore and lead slag, that it was profitably re-worked by the Victorians who were able to extract remaining lead with their improved crushing and separating equipment and smelting processes.
  Much of the remaining surface features and evidence is from this later reworking.

  These pages were never intended to be a comprehensive guide to the mines & mining history on the Mendip Hills, but more of a reference list of the location of the mines and details of publications where further information can be found.  It had nevertheless expanded ever so slightly beyond that, and will continue to do so, as and when time allows.
  This material was first collated/authored in Jan 2001, when at the time there was no comprehensive work published specifically on the mines and their remains for this area.  W.J. Goughs 'Mines of Mendip' details their history, while several papers published by various spelæological/caving groups such as the Bristol Exploration Club & the University of Bristol Spelæological Society cover exploration, excavation & recording of several of the larger mine sites, but typically with a caving bias.
  However in Aug, 2008 the Mendip Cave Registry & Archive made their database of underground Mendip  publicly available here.  (This has continued to develop and expand in content.)
  Then, in 2015, they published 'Mines and Minerals of the Mendip Hills', by Peter S. Burr. At two volumes, and over 1,000 pages, it's fair to say that it is extremely comprehensive !
  Although I have as yet to check in detail, much of what follows may well be contained within the last two sources, but I continue to keep this page on-line for those who find value with a simpler overview...
  [Please note that this is a work in progress, and errors and omissions will exist, although I do endeavor to avoid the former, and continue to strive to eliminate the latter...]

 

Mines of The Mendip Hills & Surrounding Area


All Eights Mine Shaft (Cavers Name)
NGR : ST 5596 5291 Parish : Chewton Mendip 
Material Extracted :  Survey : 
References :
 - 'SVCC Newsletter', Vol.16, No.3, Jun-July 1978, p.2 [NGR]

Axbridge Ochre Mine
NGR : ST 4312 5510 Parish : Axbridge
Material Extracted : Ochre Survey : BEC 1976
References :
 - 'British Caver', No.21, pp.65-72
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, pp.19-20

Buddles Wood Mine
NGR : ST 574 529 Parish : Chewton Mendip 
Material Extracted :  Survey : 
References :
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, p.15, Photo.

Burrington Ham
NGR : ST 491 583 (Lead Symbol) Parish : Blagdon (Lead Symbol)
Material Extracted : Lead Ore Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~

1:63,360 (One Inch) Geology Sht19, 5th Edn. 1873
Note : Lead symbol under '...Ham'

References :
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough,1967, p.211 
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.3, February 1982, p.40, 43

Charterhouse Area
NGR : ST 505 555 Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Galena Survey : 
Notes : 
 - This area covers the surface workings known as Ubley's Rake and Blackmoor/Charterhouse Rake, underground workings which include Grebe Swallet Mine, Waterwheel Swallet, and the smelt works at Blackmoor and Velvet Bottom.  It was worked in the 19th century by the Mendip Hills Mining Co.
References :
 - 'Mendip Hills Mining Co.', The Mining Journal, 1844-58 & 1860
 - 'Cornish Miners at Charterhouse-on-Mendip', Stanton W.I. & Clarke A.G.,
Proc. UBSS, Vol.17, No.1, pp.29-54

Chewton Lead Works
NGR : ST 5465 5115 Parish : Chewton Mendip
Material Extracted : Lead (Concentrates & smelting) Survey : 
Notes : 
 - Also known as the Waldegrave Lead Works, after the landowners.
References :

 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.2, No.1, July 1982, unpag. Photo dated 1910
 - 'St Cuthbert's and Chewton lead mines and Fair Lady Well', Historic England

Compton Martin Ochre Mine
NGR : ST 5419 5670 Parish : Compton Martin
Material Extracted : Ochre Survey : MNRC (1992)
References :
 - Survey Notes, A.Legg, 'MNRC Newsletter', No.40 (April 1993)
 - 'Compton Martin Ochre Mine', M.T.Mills, SMCC Journal 6(2) 1976 pp.6-9
 - 'Further Notes on Compton Martin Ochre Mine', D.B.Manley, SMCC Journal 6(2) 1976 pp.10-12
 - 'The Geology of the Country around Wells & Cheddar', F.B.A.Welch, Memoirs of the Geological
    Survey, HMSO, 1965, p.74 & 165
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough, 1967 pp.249-250
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993 pp.38-39

Devil's Cave Mine
NGR : ST 7775 6520 Parish : Bath
Material Extracted : Bath Stone Survey : 
References :
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin, D.J. & Jarrett, A., 3rd Edn., 1993 p.48

Dolebury Levvy
NGR : ST 4502 5873 Parish : Churchill / Shipham
Material Extracted :  Survey : 
References :
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough, 1967 pp.173, 243-245
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993 pp.48-49 

Eaker Hill Area
NGR : ST 574 520 Parish : Chewton Mendip
Material Extracted : Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~
O.S. 1:2,500 (25") Somerset Sht.XXVIII.1, 1st Edn. 1886
References :
 

East Harptree Lead Smelting Co.
NGR : ST 554 547 Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Lead (smelting) Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~
Flues Chimney
Smelt Works Chimney - April 2000 O.S. 1:10,560 (6") Somerset Sht.XIX.SW, 1st Edn. 1884
References :
 - 'The Mining Journal', 1869-71

Ebbor Rocks Mine
NGR : ST 532 406 Parish : Wells
Material Extracted : Iron (+ Cu & Mn minerals)  Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~

 1:63,360 (One Inch) Geology Sht19, 5th Edn. 1873
Note : Iron symbol in Dolomitic Conglomerate (red),
surrounded by Carboniferous Limestone (blue).
O.S. 1:10,560 (6") Somerset Sht.XIX.SE, 1st Edn. 1884
[ Click on image to enlarge. ]
References :
 - 'The Mining Journal', 1856-71
 - 'The Mining Journal',  1860, pp. 213, 297, 333, 375, 377 & 777. Ebbor Rocks Mineral and Mining Co. Ltd.

Elborough Mine
NGR : ST 367? 583? (Elborough Hill, Nr. Banwell) Parish : Hutton
Material Extracted : Survey : 
Notes : Location not determined - references to be verified...
References :

 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol. 1, No. 1, December 1980, pp.2-3.  Bickford's Shaft & Vivian's Shaft
 - 'The Mining Journal',  1846 : 22.Aug, 31.Oct & 7.Nov
 - 'The Mining Journal',  1847 : 23.Jan, 10.Jul & 17.Jul

Great Maple Mine
NGR : ST 3877 5866 Parish : Banwell
Material Extracted : Survey : C.Richards (1976) (in MU ?)
References :
 - 'Mendip Underground', A Caver's Guide, Irwin, D.J. & Jarrett, A., 3rd Edn., 1993, p.81 

Grebe Swallet Mine (Charterhouse)
NGR : ST 5044 5550 Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Lead Ore Survey : 
References :
 - 'The habitat and origin of lead ore in Grebe Swallet Mine', Proc. UBSS, 1991, Vol.19, No.1, pp.43-65
 - 'Small children in Grebe Swallet Mine in 1753...', Proc. UBSS, Vol.26, No.1, pp.259-266

Lamb Leer Cavern
NGR : ST 5432 5506  Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Survey : MNRC (1962-66), MNRC Journal 2(2)
References :
 - 'Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters',  H.E.Balch, 1948, pp.38-49
 - 'A Very Great Vault', H.Murrel, WCC Journal 3(45), 1954, pp.7-11
 - 'The History of Mendip Caving', Peter Johnson, 1967, pp.81-93  Description & Survey.
 - 'In Search of Palmers', M.Hesleden, WCC Journal 11(136), pp.285-288.
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, pp.88-91.
 - 'Lamb Leer I', MNRC Journal 2(1), 1965
 - 'Lamb Leer II', MNRC Journal 2(2), 1966
 - 'Lamb Leer in the 17th Century', T.R.Shaw, Proc. UBSS, 9(3), 1961, pp.183-187.

Middle Hope
NGR : ST 342 665 Parish : Kewstoke
Material Extracted : Survey : 
References :
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough, 1967 pp.172
 - Skinners MSS 
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, pp.21-22 

Ore's Close
NGR : ST 569 494 Parish : St Cuthbert Out
Material Extracted : Lead Ore Survey : 
Notes :
 - Has previously been named 'Orr's Close'.  Current (2020) 1:25,000 shows 'Oars Close' !
 - Believed to be "...one of the biggest lead mines on Mendip, if not the largest" - see refs.
References :

 - 'Ore's Close Folly', Tim Guilford, OUCC Proceedings 13 (1991) 
 - 'Orrs Close, Hillgrove', MNRC, 1938, pp.50-51
 - 'The Caves of Mendip', Nicholas Barrington, 1964, Dalesman, p.??

Pen Park Hole
NGR : ST 5852 7920 Parish : Bristol
Material Extracted : Lead Ore Survey : Proc UBSS 19(3), Figs. 5, 6 & 7
Notes : This is located several miles north on Mendip (on the north side of Bristol, near Filton), but has been included here for the moment...
References :

 - 'Pen Park Hole, Bristol, A Reassessment', G.J. Mullan, Proc. UBSS, Vol.19, No.3, 1993, pp.291-311 

Sandford Levvy
NGR : ST 4290 5935 Parish : Winscombe & Sandford
Material Extracted : Survey : SMCC (1977) 
References :
 - 'Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters',  H.E.Balch, (1948) pp.99-102
 - 'Deliniations of the North Western Division of the County of Somerset and its Antideluvian Bone Caverns', J.Rutter, (1829) pp.109
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough, 1967, pp.9, 173
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993 pp.144-145

Shipham Area
NGR : ST 445 575 (Shipham) Parish : Shipham
Material Extracted : Calamine Survey : 
References :
 - 'The Mines of Mendip', J.W.Gough, 1967, pp.223-227.
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, p.25
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.2, No.1, July 1982, pp.1-7

Simond's Mine (Cavers Name)
NGR : ST 5700 4784 Parish : St Cuthberts Out
Material Extracted : Survey : 
Note :
 - Located in Biddle (Buddle ?) Combe
References :

 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.1, December 1980, p.7.  'Nr West end of Haydon Drove, top of east bank.' 

Singing River Mine
NGR : ST 4447 5736 Parish : Shipham
Material Extracted : Calamine, Blende & Galena Survey : ACG (1971)
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~
 O.S. 1:2,500 (25") Somerset Sht.XVIII.9, 1st Edn. 1886
Mine entrance is to the left of the lower 'Lead Mine (Disused)'
There were originally several shafts extending into what eventually became a single working.
 References :
 - 'Singing River Mine', C.Richard, ACG Newsletters, 1971, pp.34-38, 50-51 & 81-84. 
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, pp.150-152. 
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, p.20.  Visit to, nr Shipham 
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.2, No.1, July 1982, p.6.  '150 yds East of St. Leonards Church'
 - 'Singing River Mine - A Calamine Working at Shipham', Chris Richards, BIAS Journal, No.4, 1971

Single-Way Mine (Cavers Name)
NGR : ST 7670 6517 Parish : Bath
Material Extracted : Bath Stone Survey : 
References :
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, pp.153

St. Cuthberts Lead Smelting Co., Priddy
NGR : ST 545 505 (Works) Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Lead Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~

O.S. 1:10,560 (6") Somerset Sht.XXIII.SW, 1st Edn. 1885 O.S. 1:10,560 (6") Somerset Sht.XXIII.SW, 1st Edn. 1904
References :
 - 'The Mining Journal', 1862-64,1866 & 1867
 - 'St Cuthbert's and Chewton lead mines and Fair Lady Well', Historic England

Tor Hole Area
NGR : ST 574 520 Parish : Chewton Mendip
Material Extracted : Survey : 
~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~
O.S. 1:2,500 (25") Somerset Sht.XXVIII.6, 1st Edn. 1886
[Note buddles in upper right hand corner]
References :
 - 'Tor Hole Area', SMRG Journal, Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, p.?

Ubley's Rake (Charterhouse)
NGR : ST 507 554 Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Lead Ore Survey : 
References :
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.1, December 1980, pp.6-7 

Waterwheel Swallet (Charterhouse)
NGR : ST 5048 5564  Parish : Priddy
Material Extracted : Survey : Proc. UBSS 18(1), 1987 p.4
References :
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, p.199
 - 'Waterwheel Swallet, Charterhouse-On-Mendip', W.I.Stanton, Proc. UBSS, 18(1), 1987, pp.3-19 

Winford Redding Pits
NGR : ST 5342 6370  Parish : Winford
Material Extracted : Survey : MCG Newsletter 197 (1987) p.2

~ ~ ~ Photos & maps etc. ~ ~ ~

1:63,360 (One Inch) Geology Sht19, 5th Edn. 1873
Note : Iron symbol in Dolomitic Conglomerate (red).
Area marked in white is that covered by 6" OS, shown right.
 O.S. 1:10,560 (6") Somerset Sht.XI.SE, 3rd Edn. 1933
References :
 - 'Redding Pits - Winford', J.Beauchamp, MCG Newsletter 197, 1987, pp.1- 2
 - 'Mendip Underground, A Caver's Guide', Irwin D.J. & Jarrett A., 3rd Edn., 1993, pp.205-206
 - MGS, SRMRofGB, Vol.IX, 'Iron Ores (cont.)', Cantrill T.C. et al., 1919, pp.30-31

Worle Hill
NGR : ST 32 62 Parish : Weston Super Mare
Material Extracted : Survey : 
References :
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.2, July 1981, Woodspring Museum, Weston super Mare.
 - 'Descent' No 46, p.46

Identity &/or Location still to be determined... 

Unknown
NGR : ST 425 645 ?? Parish : 
Material Extracted : Survey : 
References :
 - 'SMRG Journal', Vol.1, No.1, December 1980, pp. 3.  Pb mine 4 mile to NE of Elborough. 

 

 
Abbreviations used above :
A.C.G :  Axbridge Caving Group & Archaeological Society
B.E.C :  Bristol Exploration Club
B.I.A.S :  Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society
H.M.S.O :  Her Majesty's Stationary Office
M.C.G :  Mendip Caving Group
M.N.R.C :  Mendip Nature Research Committee
O.U.C.C :  Oxford University Cave Club
S.M.C.C :  Shepton Mallet Caving Group
S.M.R.G :  Somerset Mines Research Group
S.V.C.C :  Severn Valley Caving Club
W.C.C :  Wessex Cave Club
U.B.S.S :  University of Bristol Spelæological Society 
 
[Browse through their Proceedings - all 24 volumes !]
 

Further References

- Barrington, Nicholas : 'The Caves of Mendip', Dalesman, 1964, 91pp.
- Cossons, Neil : 'Industrial Monuments in the Mendip, South Cotswold and Bristol Region', 1967, 32pp.
- Green, G.W. & Welch, F.B.A. :  Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, 'Geology of the Country around Wells and Cheddar', 1977 (1965), 2nd Imp', 225pp.+xii. pp.163-5 Lead-Zinc Mineralization.
- Hatcher, John, 'Myths, Miners, and Agricultural Communities', The Agricultural History Review, Vol.22, No.1, pp.54-61
- R.A Ixer, 1986 : 'The ore mineralogy and parageneses of the lead-zinc-fluorite-baryte orefields of the English Pennine and Mendip Hills',
 S. Augustithis (Ed.), Mineral Parageneses Theophrastus Publications, Athens. pp.179-210.
- R.A Ixer & D.J.Vaughan, 1993 : 'Lead-zinc-fluorite-baryte deposits of the Pennines, Mendips and North Wales',
 R.A.D Pattrick and D.A Polya (Eds.), Mineralization in the British Isles, Chapman and Hall, pp.355-418.
- 'Mendip Hills Mines', The Mining Journal, 1860, pp.213, 228, 382 & 880
- 'Mendip Hills, mineral working on...', The Mining Journal, 1860, pp.415, 436, 454, 470, 564 & 824
- Stanton, I., 'Shotholes containing lime in a Mendip lead mine', Proc. UBSS, Vo.16, No.3, pp.185-189.
- Toulson, Shirley : 'The Mendip Hills, A Threatened Landscape', Gollancz, 1984, pp.22-41 'Gruffy Ground: Lead, Coal & Stone'

Contributions/additions which enhance the above listing are most welcome, and will be duly acknowledged.
Acknowledgements
 - Thanks to Mike Breakspear who provided several references during the initial compilation of this page.
 - OS map extracts by permission of the National library of Scotland, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence. 
 - Geological map extracts reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©UKRI. All rights Reserved
Change Log
2020.Sept.10 New ref. (Winford)
2020.Aug Major rework. Layout revised to improve readability, and reduce ambiguity.  Introduction, a few locations and several maps added.  Some links to referenced content added.  
2004.Jan.26  Page created
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© Mike Munro
This page last updated 10th September 2020


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Whilst every care is taken in researching and presenting the information contained within these pages,
I can accept no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences resulting from its application and use.