Preserving the Legacy of Historic Metal-Mining Industries in Light of the Water Framework Directive and Future Environmental Change in Mainland Britain: Challenges for the Heritage Community

Andy Howard, Mark Kincey, Christopher Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Contemporary global metal mining is a source of environmental pollution, but in Britain it is our historic mining industry that has left a legacy of contamination in the landscape, around both the immediate mine sites as well as within the river valley floors that drain these orefields. It has been estimated that the levels of lead and zinc stored within some northern British river systems represent values comparable to present-day reserves of economically viable ore deposits and exposure to them can be detrimental to human health. Despite the prevalence and significance of these deposits, they have been neglected by the cultural heritage community in favour of more easily interpretable remains such as mine buildings, technologies of ore procurement and processing, and the final products of manufacture. This paper argues that in light of future climate change and legislation associated with the European Union Water Framework Directive, heritage managers and industrial archaeologists have to start investigating these deposits as part of their studies and to engage with the environmental science and geomorphological communities who are, at present, setting the agenda in terms of strategies for pollution mitigation and landscape remediation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalThe Historic Environment: Policy & Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


Bibliographical note

© W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2015


  • metal mining
  • Water Framework Directive
  • climate change
  • heritage management

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