THE ECTON MINES

In the 1760s-80s the internationally important Deep Ecton Copper Mine made a fortune for the Dukes of Devonshire. The first copper was mined here long before, in the Bronze Age over 3,500 years ago. The Dukes, who owned northern and western parts of the hill, had their mines worked in-house for over 50 years from 1760. From the 1820s private mining companies embarked on a fruitless search for further rich ore deposits. The mines were finally abandoned in 1889.

Millions of years ago cracks in the folded rock at Ecton were filled by hot metal-bearing water from great depths. As this cooled copper, lead, and zinc ores were deposited in a series of near-vertical deposits. Two of these, the ‘Deep Ecton Pipe’ and the ‘Clayton Pipe’ a short distance to the south, were very rich and went vertically in sinuous fashion from the hilltop down to great depths.
Copper fetched a much greater price than the other metals found at Ecton and was a vital element for making bronze and brass. In prehistory copper was often combined with tin to make bronze tools and weapons.

There were seventeen separate mines of various sizes documented as being worked in the 1700s and 1800s at Ecton. There were well over fifty mine entry points in former times but these are now mostly collapsed or filled in; and the ones that remain are gated or grilled.

The west side of Ecton Hill has important species-rich ancient grasslands with rare orchids and other special plants. One of the more spectacular sights is the relatively rare Butterfly Orchids that are found in only one small area of the hillside.

Please respect this unique and nationally important hill, which is a Scheduled Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

THE ECTON MINES
The dressing floor Engine House and Balance Cone The Study Centre Powder House Waste heap Ridge Top

The dressing floor

This large back wall for a building on top of the massive main waste heap was erected in the 1880s and used to separate the ores from waste rock so that they was ready for smelting. The two hoppers behind were used to store ore ready for processing

Engine House and Balance Cone

The 1788 steam engine had two interconnecting winding drums outside, one with a rope that went down the main shaft to the depths of the mine, the other to a shaft that had counterbalance weights.

The Study Centre

The Geoff Cox Study Centre is used by schools from across Britain. In the 1970s Geoff, a mining engineer, founded this to inspire students to take an interest in minerals and modern mining. Visit https://ectonhillfsa.org.uk and https://ectonmine.org.uk.
In recent years Deep Ecton Mine has been used for scientific research. This has included exploring the vast workings now flooded below the level of the Manifold River using experimental submersible robots developed by a multi-national team. Visit https://unexmin.eu and https://unexup.eu

Powder House

The powder house, where dangerous explosives were stored 

Waste heap

At the top of the large waste heap surrounded by trees, behind a steel door, there is a flooded passage that originally ran under much of Ecton Hill, which was created in the 1850s to search without success for more rich ore deposits.

Ridge Top

The ridgetop, illustrated here by an archaeological plan made in 2008, had shallow copper workings dug over 3,500 years ago and was mined again in the 17th Century when Ecton was one of the first mines in Britain to use gunpowder to break rock.