The lead legacy: The relationship between historical mining, pollution and the post-mining landscape



Mills C, Simpson I & Adderley WP (2014) The lead legacy: The relationship between historical mining, pollution and the post-mining landscape. Landscape History, 35 (1), pp. 47-72.

The British lead mining industry peaked and declined well before environmental protection and aftercare became a statutory requirement in the post-war period, and as a consequence left in its wake pockets of barren and degraded land. Metal-rich waste tips rarely return to vegetation, and environmental pollution continues through wind erosion and adit drainage. Yet the upland and often remote situation of the mines has permitted many of these small scattered wastelands to escape extensive remediation. These abandoned mine sites have often been interpreted in terms of their historic economic and technological narratives or studied in relation to contemporary heavy metals pollution and current risks to public health. This interdisciplinary study explores the value and benefits of integrating these two approaches towards a better understanding of mining landscapes in relation to their pollution history; grounding the methodology in research questions rather than in any specific discipline. It combines the history of a small abandoned lead mine at Tyndrum, Stirlingshire, with the environmental record contained with the soil material at the site. The integration of traditional historical research with geo-scientific analysis both expands, and not only deepens, knowledge of the historic processes that have brought the specific landscape at Tyndrum to its current state of degradation but also sets the long-term environmental legacies of historic mineral exploitation in the wider British context.

Abandoned mining landscapes; historic mineral exploitation; historic metallurgy; technological advances; historic lead mining; lead pollution; pollution/production relationship

Landscape History: Volume 35, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

People (2)


Dr Catherine Mills

Dr Catherine Mills

Senior Lecturer, History

Professor Ian Simpson

Professor Ian Simpson

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences