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place:- Seathwaite Graphite Mine ?
place:- Borrowdale Graphite Mine ?
site name:- Grey Knotts
locality:- Seathwaite
parish Borrowdale parish, once in Cumberland
county:- Cumbria
black lead mine; mine
coordinates:- NY231127
10Km square:- NY21
ALL the adits are dangerous; just peer in, don't go in.
References Millward, Roy & Robinson, Adrian: 1970: Lake District: Eyre and Spottiswoode (London):: p.235
Wainwright, A: 1966: Western Fells::: Grey Knotts 5

1Km square NY2312


black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- 24.4.2006

black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Ruined building and tip. -- NY23281260 (at) -- 26.2.2007

old map:- OS County Series (Cmd 70 13)

County Series maps of Great Britain, scales 6 and 25 inches to 1 mile, published by the Ordnance Survey, Southampton, Hampshire, from about 1863 to 1948.

placename:- Plumbago Mines
date:- 1890=1899
period:- 19th century, late; 1890s

text:- Mason 1907 (edn 1930)

Page 22:-
At the head of Borrow-dale, ... there is a mine of plumbago,- what is commonly called black-lead. There is a pencil-factory there, where you may buy pencils marked with your own name in gold letters.
date:- 1907
period:- 1900s

source:- Martineau 1855

Guide book, A Complete Guide to the English Lakes, by Harriet Martineau, published by John Garnett, Windermere, Westmorland, and by Whittaker and Co, London, 1855; published 1855-71.
Page 155:-
... he may see the place,- if he looks up the hill the left,- whence was drawn the modern product that has in modern times, distinguished the dale,- the blacklead of which the Keswick pencils are made. It is understood that the productiveness of the mine has much lessened; and the works are, we believe, often suspended; but, while the best ore brings 30s. per lb., there will be more or less perseverance in seeking it. The heaps of rubbish, high up the mountain, show the spot. In the clay slate of the mountain is a bed of greenstone rock; and "nests" or "sops" or "bellies" of black lead are found in the greenstone.
Page 156:-
The plumbago is the finest ever discovered: but there is great uncertainty about finding it. At one time, a mass of it was discovered lying along like a mighty tree, the thicker part being of the finest quality, and the ramifications of a poorer, till, at the extremities, it was not worthy even to clean stoves. At other times the searchers have been altogether at fault, for a long time together. There was a time when the value of this plumbago was so little known that the shepherds used it freely to mark their sheep: and next, the proprietors were obtaining from thirty to forty shillings a pound for the lead of one single "sop" which yielded upwards of twenty-eight tons. Those were the days when houses were built at the entrance, where the workmen were obliged to change their clothes, under inspection, lest they should he tempted to carry away any of the precious stuff in their pockets.
date:- 1855
period:- 19th century, late; 1850s

old map:- Garnett 1850s-60s H

Map of the English Lakes, scale about 3.5 miles to 1 inch, published by John Garnett, Windermere, Westmorland, 1850s-60s.
thumbnail GAR2NY21, button to large image
date:- 1850=1869
period:- 19th century, late; 1850s; 1860s

descriptive text:- Ford 1839 (3rd edn 1843)

Description of Scenery in the Lake District, by William Ford, published by Charles Thurnham, London, et al, 1839; published 1839-52.
Page 69:-
Which is in the south-east part of Giller Coom, flanked at its ends by Seatoller Fell and Bays Brown. It has been opened at different places, where the wad had probably appeared on the surface. This curious and valuable substance is met with in masses, often at a considerable distance from each other, and found with great difficulty in a rock of grey felspar porphyry. When the mine was first opened, has not been ascertained. Formerly it was wrought only at intervals, and in such a manner as to keep up the price of the article; but not being so rich in quantity, and inferior also in quality, it is now carried on regularly to meet the increased demand. A house is built over the mouth, where the workmen are examined every time they leave the mine; but owing to the great value of the
Page 70:-
wad, the greatest precaution has scarcely been able to keep the miners honest. The principal owner is H. Bankes, Esq. Its main use is for the manufactory of pencils, which the artist would now find it a great inconvenience to want.

placename:- Wad Mine
date:- 1839
period:- 19th century, early; 1830s

descriptive text:- Otley 1823 (5th edn 1834)

Guidebook, Concise Description of the English Lakes, later A Description of the English Lakes, by Jonathan Otley, published by the author, Keswick, Cumberland, by J Richardson, London, and by Arthur Foster, Kirky Lonsdale, Cumbria, 1823 onwards.
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Page 175:-
THE mineral substance from which black-lead pencils are manufactured has successively been known by the several names of wad, black-cawke, black-lead, plumbago, and graphite. In the progress of chemistry and its application to mineralogy, the original term wad was abandoned, probably in consequence of the same name being given by the Germans to a substance somewhat resembling this in appearance, but of a different nature, viz. an oxide of manganese: the term black-cawke might be subject to a similar objection, the word cawke being applied by miners to a sulphate of Barytes: the names of plumbago and black-lead, although still retained in common use, tend to convey an erroneous idea of the subject, as lead forms no part of its composition, which is found to be principally carbon combined with a small portion of iron: and graphite, perhaps the least objectionable term, has scarcely yet obtained currency.
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Page 176:-
This mineral occurs in various parts of the world, and in rocks of different formation. In this island it has been discovered in Invernesshire, in gneiss, which is considered as one of the primitive rocks; there it appears to be intermixed with a micaceous substance and other hard mineral bodies which render it unfit for pencils. In the borders of Ayrshire, it is found in the neighbourhood of coal, to which it seems too nearly allied: but in no place has it been met with equal in purity to that produced from Borrowdale, in Cumberland, where it lies in a rock of intermediate formation.
We have no account of the first discovery, or opening of this mine; but from a conveyance made in the beginning of the seventeenth century, it appears to have been known before that time. The manor of Borrowdale is said to have belonged to the Abbey of Furness; and having at the dissolution of that monastery, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, fallen to the Crown, it was granted by James the First to William Whitmore and Jonas Verdon, including and particularizing among other things, 'the wad-holes and wad, commonly called black-cawke, within the commons of Seatoller, or elsewhere within any of the wastes or commons of the said manor, now or late in the tenure or occupation of Roger Robinson, or his assigns, by the particulars thereof mentioned to be of the yearly rent or value of fifteen shillings and fourpence.' By a deed bearing date the twenty-eighth day of November,
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Page 177:-
1614, the said William Whitmore and Jonas Verdon, sold and conveyed unto Sir Wilfred Lawson, of Isle, Knight, and several others therein named to the number of thirty-six, chiefly inhabitants of Borrowdale, 'all the said manor of Borrowdale, with the appurtenances of what nature or kind soever, excepted and reserved unto the said William Whitmore and Jonas Verdon, their heirs and assigns, all those wad-holes, and wad, commonly called black-cawke, within the commons of Seatoller, or elsewhere within the commons and wastes of the manor of Borrowdale aforesaid, with liberty to dig, work, and carry the same, and other their appurtenances whatsoever.' In consequence of which reservation the wad or black-lead mine has been ever since held distinct from other royalties of the said manor, one moiety thereof now belongs to Henry Bankes, Esq. the other half being subdivided into several shares.
This mine is situated about nine miles from Keswick, near the head of the valley of Borrowdale, in the steep side of a mountain, facing towards the south-east, and has been opened at different places where the wad had probably appeared on the surface: the rock in which it occurs is called by Mr. Bakewell, a grey felspar porphry (sic); near the mine it becomes of a darker colour, as containing more iron, the joints being lined with a ferruginous clayey matter: it is intersected in various directions by strings, or small rake veins, containing in some
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Page 178:-
places a little calcareous spar, or other vein stuff, and sometimes a superficial glazing of black-lead without the substance; but the wad is only found in sops, or bellies, which appear generally to be formed by the intersection or crossing of the veins, and are often at considerable distance from each other, and found with difficulty.
Formerly this mine was worked only at intervals, and when a sufficient quantity had been procured to supply the demand for a few years, it was strongly closed up until the stock was reduced; but of late, it has been obtained less plentifully, and the demand being greater, the working has been continued for several years successively.
An old level, which was re-opened in 1769, was found to have been cut through this very hard rock, without the help of gunpowder; and a kind of pipe vein which had produced a great quantity of wad, having been pursued to the depth of one hundred yards or more, much inconvenience was experienced in working it: to obviate which, in 1798, an adit or level was begun in the side of the hill, which at the length of 220 yards communicates with the bottom of the former sinking; since which time the works have been carried on internally through various ramifications; a survey of which was made a few years since by the late Mr. Farey. Through this principal level the water now passes off, and the produce and rubbish are brought out upon a railway in a small waggon; and over its mouth a house
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Page 179:-
is built, where the workmen are undressed and examined as they pass through it on leaving their work.
Owing to the great value of this mineral, and the facilities afforded for disposing of it in an unmanufactured state, the greatest precaution has sometimes been scarcely sufficient to keep the workmen from pilfering, and those appointed to overlook them have not always escaped suspicion; yet, it is but justice to the present manager to state, that for upwards of fifty years that he has been employed, he has always sustained an unimpeachable character.
To prevent the depredations of intruders, it has sometimes been necessary to keep a strong guard upon the place; and for its better protection, an Act of Parliament was passed 25th Geo. 2d. cap. 10th, by which an unlawful entering of any mine, or wadhole of wad, or black-cawke, commonly called black-lead, or unlawfully taking, or carrying away any wad, &c. therefrom, as also the buying, or receiving the same, knowing it to be unlawfully taken, is made felony. In the preamble of this Act, it is stated to be 'necessary for divers useful purposes, and more particularly in the casting of bomb-shells, round shot, and cannon balls;' however, its use in cleaning and glossing cast iron work, such as stoves, grates, &c. is now well known to every housemaid.
Being capable of enduring a great heat without fusing, or cracking, it is used in the manufacture of crucibles; and its excellence in diminishing friction in wooden screws, and other machinery, makes it
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Page 180:-
become an ingredient in several anti-attrition compositions; but effects have been formerly attributed to it in dying, and medicine, which were perhaps only imaginary. Yet its principal use is in pencils, for which Keswick has long been famed; and in their manufactory great improvements have lately been made; but though in the vicinity of the mine, the pencil-makers are obliged to purchase all their black-lead in London, as the proprietors will not permit any to be sold until it has first been lodged in their own warehouse. It was formerly used without any previous preparation; being only cut with a saw to the scantlings required, and thus enclosed in a suitable casing of cedar wood: but generally being too soft for some purposes, a method of hardening it had long been a desideratum; and a process has at length been discovered, by which it may be rendered capable of bearing a finer and more durable point; but its colour will be somewhat deteriorated.
Great quantities of pencils are now made of a composition, formed of the saw-dust and small pieces of black-lead, which being ground to an impalpable powder, is mixed with some cohesive medium: for this purpose different substances are employed, some of which make a very inferior pencil; but others, being united at a proper degree of heat, and consolidated by a strong pressure, make a pencil to answer for many purposes, (especially where the writing is intended to be permanent,) full as well as the genuine black-lead.
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Page 181:-
The specific gravity of the best wad, or black-lead, is, to that of water, as two to one nearly: the coarser kind is heavier in proportion, as it contains more stony matter. It comes from the mine in pieces of irregular shape, and of various sizes, requiring no process to prepare it for the market, further than freeing the pieces from any stony or extraneous matter, which may adhere to them. It is then assorted according to the different degrees of purity and size, and thus packed in casks to be sent off to the warehouse in London, where it is exposed to sale only on the first Monday in every month.
In the year 1803, after a tedious search, one of the largest bellies was fallen in with, which produced five hundred casks, weighing about one hundred and a quarter each, and worth thirty shillings a pound and upwards; besides a greater quantity of inferior sorts; and since that time several smaller sops have been met with; in the beginning of the year 1829, a sop produced about half a dozen casks; the best part of which was eagerly bought up at thirty-five shillings a pound. For three or four years the quantity raised was trifling; but in 1833, they succeeded in filling a few casks, the best part of which has been sold at forty-five shillings a pound.
By an account published in 1804 the stock then on hand was valued at £54,000, and the annual consumption stated to be about £3,500. This
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Page 182:-
afforded a clue to the assessors of the property tax which soon after came into operation; and this mine - which 200 years ago had been valued at fifteen shillings and fourpence - was accordingly rated at £2,700 a year. The consumption appears to be constantly increasing; but how far a permanency of supply can be calculated upon, is questionable. The most prolific part of the mountain may be already explored, and the principal body or trunk of the mine excavated, so that posterity must be contented with gleaning from the branches.
person:- : Whitmore, William
person:- : Verdon, Jonas
person:- : Lawson, Wilfrid, Sir
person:- : James I
person:- : Farey, Mr
date:- 1823
period:- 19th century, early; 1820s

source:- Otley 1818

New Map of the District of the Lakes, in Westmorland, Cumberland, and Lancashire, scale about 4 miles to 1 inch, by Jonathan Otley, engraved by J and G Menzies, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland, published by J Otley, Keswick, Cumberland now Cumbria, 1818; pblished 1818 to 1850s.
image OT02NY21, button   goto source.
thumbnail OT02NY21, button to large image

placename:- Wad Mine

old text:- Camden 1789

Britannia, or A Chorographical Description of the Flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by William Camden, 1586, translated from the 1607 Latin edition by Richard Gough, published London, 1789.
Page 170:-
... Here [Derwent Fells] is also found in several places that metallic earth or hard glittering stone, which we call Black Lead, used by painters to draw lines and drawings in black and white. Whether it be Dioscorides' Pnigitis, or Melanteria, or ochre burnt black by the heat of the earth, or totally unknown to the antients, I cannot determine, but shall leave it to others. ...
date:- 1789
period:- 18th century, late; 1780s

old text:- Camden 1789 (Gough Additions)

Britannia, or A Chorographical Description of the Flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by William Camden, 1586, translated from the 1607 Latin edition by Richard Gough, published London, 1789.
Page 182:-
The Black lead is found in Seatallor fell in Keswic parish. It is essentially different from the Melanteria and Pnigitis of Dioscorides; the former being expressly said to be found at the mouth of copper mines, and the latter more like the black chalk mentioned by Dr. Plot. It is used by the neighbourhood medically against colics, gravel, stone, and strangury, operating by urine, sweat, and vomitting. It also enables crucibles to stand the hottest fire, and being rubbed on iron and steel arms preserves them from rust; and it is used by cloth-dyers to make their blues stand unalterable. This mundic ore having little of sulphur in its composition will not flow without a violent heat. It produces a white regulus shining like silver. The old level was first re-opened 1710. It belongs to a number of gentlemen, who, lest the market should be over-stocked, open the mine but once in seven years. It sells from 8 to 12s. a pound. It lies intermixed with a hard greenish rock, in the midst of which it appeared of a full round vein or body of above three feet diameter. It is called here Kellow or Wadf (sic); the former name is supposed to be derived from the Irish, the latter from the Saxon woad. It is said there is a mine of it in the West Indies; but there is no need to import any, as much being found here in one year will serve all Europe for several years. It is rather to be classed with earths than with metals or minerals: and as Ruddle is an earth strongly impregnated with the steams of iron, so is this with those of lead, as appears by its weight, colour, &c. Dr. Merret gives it the name Nigrica fabrilis, adding that it wanted a true one till he gave it this at Keswick, and that it is the peculiar produce of New and Old England; but sir R. Sibbald assures us, it is found in Aberdeenshire.
locality:- Seatoller Fell
person:- : Dioscorides
person:- : Plot, Dr
person:- : Merret, Dr
date:- 1789
period:- 18th century, late; 1780s

old text:- Clarke 1787

Guide book, A Survey of the Lakes of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, by James Clarke, Penrith, Cumberland, and in London etc, 1787 and 1789; and Plans of the Lakes ... 1793.
Page 82:-
... the black-lead mines; the value and use of this mineral I need not here mention, as they are so well known throughout the whole world.
The species of mundie, or marcasite, formerly was made no use of by the inhabitants but for marking their sheep, (unless it was by the Dutch;) I am led to this opinion because many of the Dutch miners lived upon Vicar's Island, St Herbert's Island, &c.; and in digging the foundation of Mr Pocklington's house, ploughing the ground, and on the shore, several pieces have been found amongst the earth.
Since the discovery of its several uses in medicine, dying, glazing of crucible, keeping iron from rust, combs for fair-haired ladies, &c. it has been sold as high as 30s. a pound weight. The Borrowdale black lead is the most valuable of any in the world: they boast of having it in Scotland, Gibraltar, Russia, &c. but all are inferior to it; all are, however, sold for Borrowdale lead, by which many people have been deceived, and have been the cause of many actions at law, as few purchasers are real judges of it till they make trial of it.
Page 83:-
By an act of parliament of the 25th Geo. II. it is made a felony to break into any mine or wood, or wad-hole, or black chalk, commonly called black lead, or to steal any from thence. And in the recital, it is said to be discovered in one mountain, or ridge of hills, only in this realm (meaning Borrowdale,) and that it hath been found by experience to be for divers useful purposes, and more particularly in the casting of bomb-shells, round shot and cannon, &c.
date:- 1787
period:- 18th century, late; 1780s

descriptive text:- West 1778 (11th edn 1821)

Guide book, A Guide to the Lakes, by Thomas West, published by William Pennington, Kendal, Cumbria once Westmorland, and in London, 1778 to 1821.
image WS21P209, button   goto source.
Addendum; Mr Gray's Journal, 1769
Page 209:-
... This year the wad-mine has been opened, which is done once in five years: it is taken out in lumps sometimes as big as a man's fist, and will undergo no preparation by fire, not being fusible: when it is pure, soft, black, and loose-grained, it is worth sometimes thirty shillings a pound. ..
date:- 1769
period:- 18th century, late; 1760s

old map:- Bowen and Kitchin 1760

New Map of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, scale about 4 miles to 1 inch, Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Kitchin, published by T Bowles, John Bowles and Son, Robert Sayer, and John Tinney, 1760; published 1760-87.
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Black Lead Mines
spots either side of Watendlath
date:- 1760
period:- 18th century, late; 1760s

old map:- Bickham 1753-54 (Cmd)

Maps, A Map of Westmorland, 1753, and A Map of Cumberland, 1754, by George Bickham, published 1750s-96.
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Black Lead Mines
view (sort of)

placename:- Black Lead Mines
county:- Cumberland
date:- 1753=1754
period:- 18th century, late; 1750s

old map:- Smith 1751

Map of the Black Lead Mines in Cumberland, and area, scale about 2 miles to 1 inch, by George Smith, published in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1751.
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Bk. Lead Mines
marked by ?caves above Seathwaite

placename:- Black Lead Mines
date:- 1751
period:- 18th century, late; 1750s

descriptive text:- Simpson 1746

The three volumes of maps and descriptive text published as 'The Agreeable Historian, or the Compleat English Traveller ...', by Samuel Simpson, 1746.
image SMP4P174, button   goto source.
... The chief Commodities [of Cumberland] are ... Black Lead, (call'd by the Inhabitants Wadd,) ... The Black Lead, which is almost peculiar to this County, is not properly a Metal or Mineral, but rather an Earth, strongly impregnated with the Streams of Lead: There is more of it here than suffices for the Consumption throughout Europe. ...
date:- 1746
period:- 18th century, early; 1740s

descriptive text:- Defoe 1724-26

Travel book, Tour through England and Wales, by Daniel Defoe, published in parts, London, 1724-26.
... Here [Derwent Fells] are still mines of black lead found, which turn to a very good account, being, for ought I have yet learned, the only place in Britain where it is to be had.

date:- 1724=1726
period:- 18th century, early; 1720s

descriptive text:- Keer 1605 (edn 1620)

Map, Westmorlandia et Comberlandia, ie Westmorland and Cumberland now Cumbria, scale about 16 miles to 1 inch, probably by Pieter van den Keere, or Peter Keer, about 1605; published about 1605 to 1676.
second page:-
[at Keswick and Newland] ... the Blacke Lead is gotten, whose plentie maketh it of no great esteeme; otherwise a commoditie that could hardly be missed.
date:- 1620
period:- 17th century, early; 1620s

specimen:- JandMN (397)

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Rock, hand specimen of graphite from spoil heap at the black lead mine, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumberland, NY235127, 26 February 2007.
date:- 2007
period:- 2000s

old map:- Badeslade 1742

A Map of Westmorland North from London, scale about 10 miles to 1 inch, and descriptive text, Cumberland similarly, by Thomas Badeslade, London, engraved and published by William Henry Toms, Union Court, Holborn, London, 1742.
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Black Lead Mines
labelled by hillocks
county:- Cumberland
date:- 1742
period:- 18th century, early

descriptive text:- Gents Mag (1751)

The Gentleman's Magazine or Monthly Intelligencer, published by Edward Cave under the pseudonym Sylvanus Urban, and by other publishers, London, monthly from 1731 to 1914.
THE public attention has been drawn to the black lead mines, in Cumberland, call'd the Wad, by the account of their having been plundered, which has lately appear'd in the papers: but as yet they have not been described, and though it is not known that there is any other mine of the same kind in the world, yet, I believe, they have never been visited with a view to natural history, except by myself, and some gentlemen who went wth me. I, therefore, send you the following narrative of our journey and discoveries, which, I hope, will be acceptable to your readers. Yours, &c. G.S.
I Had long intended a journey to the Wad, and had often been prevented from effecting it by unfavourable weather, and other accidents; but in the beginning of Aug. 1749, I set out from Wigton, in company with two or three friends, and had appointed others to meet us from Cockermouth, who waited only for my message to set out; for as this expedition had been long projected, they had determined to bear me company.- ...
[at Seathwaite] ... The scene that now presented itself was the most frightful that can be conceived; we had a mountain to climb for above 700 yards, in a direction so nearly perpendicular, that we were in doubt whether we should attempt it; however, recovering our resolution, we left our horses at a little house that stood by itself, on the utmost verge of the county, and approached the mountain. The precipices were surprisingly variegated with apices, prominences, spouting jets of water, cataracts, and rivers that were precipitated from the cliffs with an alarming noise.
One of these rivers we passed, over a wretched foot-bridge, and soon after began to climb; we had not ascended far before we perceived some persons at a great distance above us, who seemed to be very busy, tho' we could not distinguish what they were doing; as soon as they saw us, they hastily left their work, and were running away, but by a signal made by our guide, who probably was but too well acquainted with them, they returned, to the number of 18. We came up to them after an hour of painful and laborious travelling, and perceived them to be digging with mattocks, and other instruments, in a great heap of clay and rubbish, where mines had been formerly wrought; but tho' they were now neglected by the proprietors, as affording nothing worth the search, yet these fellows could generally clear 6 or 8 shillings a day, and sometimes more.
The black lead is found in heavy lumps, some of which are hard, gritty, and of small value, others soft and of a fine texture. The hill in which it is found is a dirty brittle clay, interspersed with springs, and in some places shivers of the rock. The hazel grows in great plenty from the bottom to the height of above 300 yards, but all the upper part is utterly barren.
The mineral has not any of the properties of metal, for it will not fuse but calcine in an intense fire: before its value was discovered the farmers used it as those of the S. counties do ruddle, to mark their sheep; it is not the petroleum, the melanteria, nor the pinguitis of the ancients, nor does it agree with any description in Pliny, or Aldrovandus.
About 150 yards above this rubbish is the miner's lodge, to which the ascent is very steep, and here the facts related in the news papers must have happen'd, if at all, for the principal heap of rubbish, where several fellows and girls were then at work, is within pistol shot of the hut.
P.S. The lumps of black-lead found in the rubbish seldom exceed half a pound in weight, but those found in the mines are said to weigh six or seven pounds, they work forward for it, and the pits resemble quarries or gravel pits.
We shall soon give a Map of this place, the only one that was ever drawn.

placename:- Wad, The
date:- 1751
period:- 18th century, late; 1750s

descriptive text:- see:- Beckman, John & Johnson, William (trans) & Francis, William (ed) & Griffith, J W (ed): 1846 (4th edn): History of Inventions, Discoveries and Origins: (London)

At present the treasure is protected by a strong building, consisting of four rooms upon the ground floor; and immediately under one of them is the opening secured by a trap-door, through which the workmen alone can enter the interior of the mountain. In this apartment, called the dressing-room, the miners change their ordinary clothes for their working-dress as they come in; and after their six hours, post or journey, they again change their dress, under the superintendence of the steward, before they are allowed to go out. In the innermost of the four rooms two men are seated at a large table, sorting and dressing the plumbago, who are locked in while at work, and watched by the steward from an adjoining room, who is armed with two loaded blunderbusses. ...
date:- 1846
period:- 19th century, early; 1840s

drawing:- KDMRS 1979-82

Log book and sketch maps from the Kendal and District Mine Research Society, 1979-82.
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placename:- Graphite Mine
period:- 1980s

descriptive text:-
The Saturday Magazine, 21 July 1832, page 24:-
FEW persons, are, perhaps, aware, that there is only one mine of this kind in England. It is situated on the side of Seatoller Fell, a lofty mountain in Cumberland, about eight miles south of Keswick. The view represents the house erected at the entrance, for the residence of the overseer.
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The period when this mine was discovered is unknown, but it was certainly worked previous to the seventeenth century, and has been occasionally open ever since. The mineral has also been found in Ayrshire, Inverness-shire, and in foreign countries, but of veru inferior quality.
Various names have been given to the mineral found here, but as may of them denote other substances, they do not appear very appropriate. It is called on the spot, wad, and in other places plumbago, or black lead, though lead, properly so called, forms no part of its composition. The terms black cawke and graphite have likewise been applied to it, though it is actually carbonate of iron, consisting of 90 parts of charcoal and 10 of iron. It is principally used for the manufacture of pencils, great quantities of which are made at Keswick; but also employed in making crucibles, polishing iron, diminishing the friction of machinery, &c.
The mine was formerly worked only at intervals, a sufficient quantity being procured in a short time to last for several years; but the market being considerably extended, and the difficulty of finding the mineral increased, the working has lately been carried on more constantly.
The wad is not found in veins, but in irregular masses, some of which weigh as much as four or five pounds. Many of these pieces are of little value, being hard and gritty; but those which are soft and of fine texture are worth several guineas a pound. These masses are usually found in the form of a tree, the trunk being of the finest quality, and the branches inferior to it. When taken out of the mine, the wad is sorted according to its various qualities, and the best sent to London, where it is sold to the dealers once a month. The pencil-makers of Keswick receive their supply from the metropolis, as the proprietors of the article will not allow any to be sold till it has been deposited in their own warehouse.
In order to make pencils, the black lead is sawed into quare slips, which are fitted into a groove made in a piece of wood, and another slip of wood glued over them. A soft wood, such as cedar, is usually employed for the purpose, that the pencil may be more easily cut. In the ever-pointed pencils, the lead is formed in the shape of small cylinders instead of square slips.
The inferior pencils, hawked about at a cheap rate, are made of the refuse of the mineral, stirred into melted sulphur. They may be detected by holding them to a candle, or to a red hot iron, when they yield a bluish flame, with a strong smell, resembling that of burning brimstone. Pure black lead produces neither smell nor fume, and suffers no apparent alteration in a moderate heat.
date:- 1832
period:- 19th century, early; 1830s

tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Ruined building and tip. -- NY23281260 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit. -- NY23281260 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit; worth looking in at BUT beware, it drops away suddenly when it intersects the next shaft. -- NY23161269 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Shaft. -- NY23141269 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Shaft. -- NY23141269 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit. -- NY23131265 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit; difficult to see, bad drop just within. -- NY23111270 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit; difficult to see, bad drop just within. -- NY23111270 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit. -- NY23091272 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit. -- NY23091272 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Adit. -- NY23081272 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Ruined building and tip. -- NY23081276 (at) -- 26.2.2007
tiny photograph, 
button to large black lead mine, Seathwaite -- Grey Knotts -- Seathwaite -- Borrowdale -- Cumbria / -- Ruined building and tip. -- NY23001292 (at) -- 26.2.2007

On hillside north west of Seathwaite. Already a deep pit at the Upper Wadhole in 1555; history is confused. Little worked after 1876. Wound up 1891.
Gorton or Goaton's Pipe; Grand Pipe; etc. The graphite is variously named: black cawke, wad, black lead, plumbago, ...
Adams, John: 1988: Mines of the Lake District Fells: Dalesman Books (Lancaster, Lancashire):: ISBN 0 85206 931 6

notes Jeff Wilkinson has kindly provided notes about a survey of the mine by geologists, 2006, with a simplified explanation of how this deposit of graphite occurred. The essay is:-
Even more simply, Jeff says:-
At its absolute basic explanation, hot magma at depth heated up the Skiddaw Mudstone rocks and the Carbon atoms locked within them were released as Carbon Dioxide and Methane gas (another Carbon bearing gas ) that was incorporated into a hot fluid that made its way up through the cracks and faults. As it came into contact with the volcanic rocks this very hot fluid altered the original minerals and started to cool. As it cooled Carbon in the fluid started to crystallize out as graphite. The mine is unique because it is within volcanic rocks, very high quality and formed in "pipes."

hearsay Developed in the 18t