There has been a long history of mining on the Mendip Hills stretching back over 2000 years to Iron Age times.
Many minerals have been won from the region, but the most common were the ores of lead, zinc and iron. It has been estimated that about 100 000 tons of lead have been obtained from the Mendips. Small amounts of manganese, silver (associated with lead ore), barium and strontium have also been worked. In East Mendip, there are relatively few mineral deposits, but here coal mining was once an important industry.
There must be literally thousands of mines scattered across the Mendip Hills, most of which remain unexplored. Most of the known mines are small, up to 40 m deep and generally less than 100 m long, but a few of the larger mines have several hundred metres of passage. Not all the mines produced ore, many were exploratory shafts sunk along calcite veins in the hope of fining richer ore bodies.
Most of the lead ore came from the central Mendip region between Charterhouse and Green Ore, whereas most of the zinc was obtained from the region around Shipham and Rowberrow. Smaller ore fields occurred as far afield as Banwell and Shepton Mallet.
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