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Allenheads Lead Mining District

Northumberland, England



Allenheads is a village in the Pennines to the north of Weardale.

In the rocks beneath the Allenheads Lead Mining area there is a network of mineral veins. These formed about 290 million years ago, from mineral-rich fluids flowing through cracks in the rocks deep underground.

Mineralising FluidsThese solutions were heated by a buried granite known as the Weardale Granite. As the fluids cooled, their dissolved minerals crystallized in the cracks, building up the deposits of lead ore, fluorite and other minerals for which the North Pennines is famous. These mineral deposits were mined for many centuries.

Lead mining at Allenheads probably started in the 16th century, but was at its height in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s hard to imagine now but 150 years ago Allenheads would have been a noisy, industrial place. It was the site of Allenheads Lead Mine, the most productive in the North Pennines, and the headquarters of a big lead mining company, W. B. Lead.

AllenheadsThe mine workings are mostly hidden underground, but in the village you can still see the old washing floor, shafts and mine buildings. The surrounding hillsides are also covered with evidence of the area’s lead mining past. 

Text: North Pennines AONB Partnership

100 Great Geosites

Related links

Explore Allenheads - A 3 mile walk exploring landscape, rocks, minerals and mines (Leaflet from Explore North Pennines)

Images (top to bottom):

  • Allenheads Heritage Centre © Mike Quinn, (source Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
  • Mineralising Fluids Credit: Elizabeth Pickett © BGS, NERC
  • Allenheads: © North Pennines AONB Partnership / K. Gibson
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