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Sunday, 14 September 2008

Mines and More

I have spent some time sorting through the calendars of events published by Natural England, AONB, Durham CC, Teesdale Events, and local papers and google in order to decide what to do in my own "Rambling Calendar" and today's was one I had been looking forward to for a long time so here is Part Two.

This continues the journey through the social and industrial archaeology of Upper Weardale.

The first picture shows the Bouse Teems or Bouse Steads at Slitt. The lead miners were not paid a wage but got themselves together as teams to work certain sections of the mine and load their efforts into one of these enclosures, which had a railway running across the top which dropped your daily efforts into your teem/stead. Each teem/stead was processed separately and your team was paid accordingly. They bargained with the owners as to how much they would be paid and so had some ownership of their income but guess who usually won?

Low Slitt mine had the longest vein of lead minerals and was mined back into the hills for 14 miles. At the northern end of Slitt Wood is the area where the rock was worked...the washing floor. There is a large flattened area where the rock was bashed by hand, lighter debris washed away by water and a hydraulic engine was used to crush the larger slabs and send gushes of water to slush away the lighter debris. One of the pictures shows the gravelly bits left behind on the washing floor by all or any of these processes.


There was such a shortage of flat working surfaces (sounds like a kitchen) that they culverted over the burn. An amazing feat of drystone walling, seen here, is now being held together by mortar and BH funding.
Once you get to the top you can see into the West Rigg Open Cut. This is a basin which has been mined for its central lead vein and then quarried for its surrounding iron ore. You can see the cut made into the centre of the lead bearing quartz.

Last but not least. On our way back down the fell we passed an area where some people are repairing the drystone walling. Hopefully this will enclose a high meadow which will be able to re-grow. This picture shows the layout of a patch and the wooden frame used as a guide to maintain the shape. The old walls were 6 foot at base and 6 foot high. An equilateral triangle. But todays are taller and slimmer. Aren't we all? With more modernised engineering it can be done.

I'm thrilled by all my learning today and anxious to learn more.
Next week I promise to show you more of the knitting and dyeing and the moving of the chook shed.

Cheers Gillian

4 comments:

joco said...

Gillian,
Thanks for saying hello and for my day out in your lovely countryside.

This wonderfully gnarled landscape, slagheaps and all: I picture it clothed in flowering plants from Nepal and Tibet. Wouldn't take more than a few million pounds :-)

Walled Garden said...

The Himalayan Balsam is spreading in rapidly from the river banks, where it proliferates, so it could happen yet.
Cheers Gillian

carol said...

A really enjoyable blog Gillian about which I have said much but been refused he right to post - I think it's something to do with firefox. Hopefully I'll get throught this time.
I love the photos and the information.

Heide said...

Everything is so green and lush. I can't imagine working underground. My great grandfather worked in the copper mines of Butte, Montana after he immigrated to the US from Finland and my grandfather worked alongside him as a teenager. I panic at the idea of so much earth above.