to the Order’
In the 1220s the General Chapter denounced the bickering between Fountains
and Byland regarding leadmines in Nidderdale as a disgrace to the Order.
Concord was reached in 1226 when it was agreed that two mines in Coldstones,
which lay south of Ashford Gill Beck, should be worked by both abbeys for
seven years and the costs divided; thereafter, Byland was to withdraw.
A third mine in Coldstones was to be worked in this way until it was exhausted.
The monks and lay-brothers of both abbeys were bound to abide by the terms
of the agreement, for failure to do so would result in the offender having
to apologise in person to the other community and enduring a fast of bread
and water every Friday for a year.
[Jennings, Yorkshire Monasteries, pp. 81, 84.]
Fountains’ main non-agricultural industry was lead-mining.(129) Lead
was an extremely important resource that was necessary for the manufacture
of piping and brewing vats, and for use in roofing and window tracery.(130) In
the late twelfth century, Fountains acquired a number of rights to mine lead
Nidderdale from Roger de Mowbray and his wife, Alice de Gant. These included
mines at Bewerley and Dacre, where the abbey had granges, and the right to
mine all metals in the forest of Nidderdale.(131) The
hamlet between Dacre and Pateley Bridge, that is today known as ‘Smelthouses’ (and
was formerly part of Brimham grange), refers to its medieval past, for the
monks of Fountains
had lead-smelting works here; their mill was on the spot today called ‘Lead
In the late fifteenth century Fountains was mining lead
on Greenhow Hill, near Dacre, where a number of bell-pits can still be seen.
in this area, however, brought the community into conflict with the Augustinian
canons of Bolton Priory and the miners of the Duchy of Lancaster. The dispute
centred on Mungo Gill and disagreement continued until the Dissolution.(133)
the lead was mined it was smelted in furnaces built on hillsides, ‘bole
hills’. These were low stone circles which had gaps in the base to
allow the wind to enter and power. Fountains had hillside furnaces at Bale
in Bishopside [Aldfield], and at Bale Banks, in Coldstones. From the fourteenth
century bellows were used to power the furnaces, which were now moved by
streams and driven by waterwheels. By the fifteenth century Fountains was
types of furnace. The mid-fifteenth century ‘Memorandum book’ records
the payment of 3s 4d for a bellows pipe [sufflatorium].(134)