In a former lead mining region of Derbyshire (Just North of Wirksworth) there's this bank of earth running across the side of a hill, with a small "valley" alongside it:

possible mining remains

It's about 15-20m long and the "valley" is around 2-3m across and maybe 1m-2.5m deep depending whether you measure to the up-side or the down-side of the hill.

This is part of a former smallholding, and I know it was common for such smallholders to turn their hands to lead mining in Winter months or when there wasn't farming work to do. I think this bank and mini-valley are likely the remnants of such activity. Does anyone know if there is some activity which would commonly lead to this kind of feature, or what part of a mine they might be?

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    Typically when I see unnatural hills in mining areas I think tailing piles, and trenches were often to divert water for use in the mining process, either for mills or sluicing. It could merely be erosion control on a hillside, however. The TV show Time Team would take three days, high tech gear, heavy equipment, teams of cartographers ,researchers, archeologists and diggers, and sometimes might be able to answer a question like this. We can't do much from a photo.
    – justCal
    Feb 21, 2021 at 14:54
  • Looks much more like a settlement or fortification . Nothing like strip mining. Feb 21, 2021 at 15:05
  • The Wikipedia article on Derbyshire lead mining history might give you some insight into any features which might seem to match up.
    – justCal
    Feb 21, 2021 at 15:17
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    Given that one side is higher than another, could it be an old ha-ha?
    – Schwern
    Feb 21, 2021 at 19:34
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    @Schwern thanks for that suggestion. Nice to learn about ha-has. It's not steep enough on either side today, although it is of course possible it was at one time. However this seems unlikely because boundaries in the area are defined by dry stone walls and the walls around this plot of land are in good condition, clearly defined, and there isn't one near the ditch. Finally, they seem to be more common in landscape gardens of the wealthy whereas this is a steeply-sloping agricultural smallholding in a lead mining area. Feb 21, 2021 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Here is a French document about old lead mines in the region were I live in France: giving another approach.

This document is very detailed. I translate here only paragraph 17:

"V-shaped rakes (trenches) are more discreet but more widespread. Their oblique edges are extended by two ridges of rejections. Their direction visibly follows veins or small veins. The depth of the visible rake is around 1 meter. Sectionning shows that the exploited veins are extremely thin, in the order of some decimeters or centimeters, explaining the low development in depth of this work. On the other hand, we follow them over important distances, sometimes nearly 100 m. As a rule, these sites are found near underground works, of which they must constitute a complement or a pre-exploitation".

  • Thanks Jean Marie. Assuming English is your 2nd language, I believe these trenches are called "Rakes" in English (although this is not common knowledge among most native English speakers). Feb 24, 2021 at 14:29
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    @samerivertwice Thanks for providing the accurate word. The techniques used could maybe be traced back to Roman times in both cases (England and France) because lead, together with tin, was one of the foremost used metal in Antiquity. More modern mining techniques gradually came from Germany in the 17th century, but their spread took time. Feb 24, 2021 at 17:53
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    @Mark C. Wallace Thanks for the improvement of the presentation. Feb 24, 2021 at 18:13

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