Above: Dr. Catherine Parker Heath with her wonderful volunteers hard at work.
This week a new project from the South West Peak Landscape Partnership broke ground at the historically fascinating Dale Mine just outside Warslow. This project is directed by Dr. Catherine Parker Heath, the South West Peak Cultural Heritage Officer. Catherine also works with and trains enthusiastic volunteers who care passionately about preserving the cultural heritage of the South West Peak.
The South West Peak Landscape Partnership is a group of organisations led by the Peak District National Park Authority and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through a grant of £2.4 million, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players.
This exciting new project is taking place at Dale Mine, an historically important 18th and 19th century lead and zinc mine with a range of unusual features, and is a key archaeological site within the Peak District National Park’s Warslow Moors Estate.
One of these unusual features is a set of visually impressive ‘ore bins’. Once interpreted as a series of limekilns, the ore bins have no known parallel at a mine site in Britain. They are the focus of this project alongside the site of one of the engine houses that once stood here.
South West Peak volunteers are working with local experts Dr John Barnatt and Mark Womersley to consolidate the ore bin structure, excavate in front of it and excavate the tanks behind to understand more about the nature of the site. This will also include opening a small excavation on the site of one of the engine houses.
Dale Mine is in an impressive and picturesque location, standing high above the Manifold Valley and opposite Ecton Hill, site of the renowned copper mines of the Dukes of Devonshire.
From here you can begin to appreciate how the countryside we see today has been created through the interplay of natural and human forces and begin to understand how a landscape can change. Alongside evidence of medieval lynchets (ridges formed by ploughing in ancient times) and field boundaries of various ages, the remnant lumps and bumps of earlier mining are testament to what was once a busy, noisy, industrial landscape. If you visit today you will find it much changed into a location of rural calm and tranquillity.
As part of this project a Crowdfunder has been created that is aiming to raise money to help support this work, after which a dedicated group of local people will adopt the structure to ensure its care and survival for years to come as part of the South West Peak Small Heritage Adoption Project.
Field work began on Tuesday 20 August and will continue for 4 weeks with an Open Day on Tuesday 10 September when you will be more than welcome to come along, meet us and see what we are doing. But please, do pledge some money to this important cause first – there are plenty of great rewards to persuade you! These rewards include tickets to Poole’s Cavern, limited edition books, meal vouchers, and exclusive guided walks.
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