Odin Mine


Useful Information

Odin Mine seen from the end of the road.
Location: At the end of Hope Valley, 2 km W of Castleton, Peak District. 25 km from Sheffield, 45 km from Manchester.
(53.348057, -1.799788)
Open: no restrictions.
[2023]
Fee: free.
[2023]
Classification: MineLead Mine
Light: n/a
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Trevor D. Ford and James H. Rieuwerts (1976): Odin Mine, Castleton, Derbyshire, Peak District Mines Historical Society Bulletin, Volume 6 Number 4 - September 1976.
R Fells (1989): A Visitor's Guide to Underground Britain / Caves, Caverns, Mines, Tunnels, Grottoes., Bloomsbury Books, London. p 86-87
Address: Owner: The National Trust, Regional Office, Clumber Park, Stableyard, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S80 3AZ, Tel: +44-11909-486-411.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1280 first written mention of the mine.
1769 survey of the mine.
1772 begin of the construction of an adit.
1823 crusher built in front of the mine.
1840s adit completed.
1848-1852 gap in production.
1856 the Bagshawe family sells the mine to Robert How Ashton of Losehill Hall.
1869 mine closed.
1908-1909 considerable amounts of fluorspar and barite excavated from the Mam Engine Shaft.

Geology

The rocks in this area are Carboniferous limestones, which are about 320 million years old. The lead ores formed 280 million years ago when a fault opened and was filled with minerals and ores by hydrothermal solutions. The sulfur rich water created galena ores.

Description

Outside Odin Mine or Odin Mine Gorge

The origins of Odin Mine are unclear, the vein was opened by erosion and so the ores could just be picked up. Multiple sources state that the mine was worked in Roman times, in the Middle Ages and in Norman times. Actually there is no evidence for any mining except the mine itself. But the Romans had great need for lead, mostly for the plumbing systems, so they mined it all over Britain, so mining operations are likely. The assumption that the name Odin is of Scandinavian, or better Danish origin, is probably true, as it was originally called Oden which is closer to the traditional Danish spelling. The first mention of the mine was in 1280 though. The poacher John of Bellhag was put on trial for hunting at Bactor Wood in Castleton and at the entrance to Odin Mine.

The early mining used fire setting to weaken the rock. A fire was started and kept burning overnight which weakened the rock, the other morning the hot rock was cooled abruptly with cold water which weakened the rock further. The next mention of the mine is in 1663. Around that time the mining went underground, the mine reached a length of 500 m and struck a rich vein of lead in April 1706. 41 men and eight women were working at the site. The High Sheriff of Derbyshire Richard Bagshawe had a considerable stake in the mine in the 18th century. At that time the mine produced between 100 and 800 tonnes per year. Drainage problems started and in 1772 and adit, the local miners term is sough, was planned but the construction took many years. Driven up from Hollowford Brook at Trickett Bridge in Castleton to the workings it was completed in the 1840s.

The mine produced a lot of spoil which contained fluorspar, calcite, and barite. In 1802, it was used by the Manchester and Sheffield Turnpike company to build a road between Manchester and Sheffield. Later uses for fluorspar and baryte were invented, and they became valuable, so the slack heaps were reworked to extract them. Due to a gap in production between 1848 and 1852 the Bagshawe family withdrew their interests in September 1856. The new owner was Robert How Ashton of Losehill Hall. Obviously the Bagshawe's had the right idea, mining ended in 1869. The mine was briefly reactivated between 1908 and 1909 to extract fluorspar and baryte.

At the end the mine consisted of 1,500 m of tunnels in a complex system of levels and shafts. The underground passages are very dangerous and closed to the public. There is no underground tour, this is not a show mine. The entrance to Odin Mine is known as Odin Gorge, it is the original open cast where mining started. It looks quite spectacular and is thus a popular tourist site, visited by many visitors to Castleton. It is a protected site owned by the National Trust, and renowned for it unique plants.

This is an open air site with the remains of an old ore crushing circle, complete with its gritstone wheel. Nearby is Knowles Shaft, now capped and the main rake or open cast workings can be seen heading up the hill towards Mam Tor for over half a kilometre. On the opposite side of the road, to the north, there are two openings, a 2-metre-high circular entrance is Odin Cave and the gash in the cliff next to it is the opening to Odin Mine. The working are very deep and dangerous and should not be entered, even by expert cave explorers. The working are very extensive and go as far as Tinker's Shaft, now covered by the road in front of Blue John Caverns.

Odin Mine is probably the oldest lead mine in Derbyshire and its name suggests it was worked in Roman times, and it was certain active in the Saxon era. Unfortunately today thieves abound in the area, and any equipment left lying around will be quickly stolen.


Text by Tony Oldham (2001). With kind permission.