We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Metals, mines and moorland: the changing lead mining landscapes of the North Pennines, UK, 1700-1948

Kincey, Mark and Gerrard, Chris and Warburton, Jeff (2022) 'Metals, mines and moorland: the changing lead mining landscapes of the North Pennines, UK, 1700-1948.', Post-Medieval Archaeology, 56 (1). pp. 1-27.


Intensive metal mining considerably altered many British upland landscapes between the 18th and 20th centuries, modifying both subterranean and surface environments and fundamentally changing the character of local settlements, infrastructure and society. However, our understanding of the landscape-scale patterns of development through time in mining districts is still limited. In this study, we take an interdisciplinary approach to understand the historical development of the mining industry within a nearly 200 km2 area of the North Pennines, UK. Our approach combines documentary and cartographic records, archaeological mapping, and geomorphological analysis of changes to the physical environment. We demonstrate pronounced spatio-temporal variability in the intensity of mining and the nature of associated landscape impacts. Production time series data indicate a widespread intensification of operations during the 18th century, with archaeological evidence suggesting that the environmentally destructive practice of hushing, a hydraulic mining technique, was also widespread during this period. The scale of ore production from subterranean mines increased considerably throughout the mid-19th century, before a rapid decline from the late 1800s onwards. The influence of large mining corporations reached into all aspects of the local economy and society; altering the settlement patterns, infrastructure and demographics of the area and shaping the finances, health and wellbeing of the miners and their families. The environmental and societal changes that accompanied the mining industry were profound, resulting in mining districts with a distinctive landscape character and legacy that persist to the present day.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:22 March 2022
Date deposited:30 June 2022
Date of first online publication:11 April 2022
Date first made open access:30 June 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar