The fine specimens of local crystallized minerals and ganister fossils at the Weardale Museum were the lifetime collections of two local miners, Bill Proud, a founder member of the Museum and Joe Robson. We are pleased to display them in our museum.

The limestone of the dales contains the remains of vast tropical seas with corals, blankets of sponges and masses of other marine life, whilst other rocks reveal remains of huge forests of giant ferns and mosses. All can be traced back over 300 million years when the North Pennines lay astride the equator.

Fracturing these rocks are veins of lead ore and other minerals which have supported centuries of mining. Many of the minerals are spectacularly beautiful and some are unique to the area.


Weardale has been mined for lead ore since the time of William the Conqueror but it was the eighteenth century which witnessed a sudden rise in population as new technology enabled deeper mines to be sunk.

When the lead ore ran out other minerals became economically important.

Weardale Minerals include:

Galena or Lead Ore,

Ironstone,

Fluorspar Limestone,

Ganister,

Whinstone,

Frosterley marble


Miners’ pay was poor and they needed to supplement their income by farming small-holdings on the hillside. Fathers and sons worked at the mine while mothers and daughters tended to the animals. Hay-time was a communal activity, when miners stayed off work and children had long school holidays.

A visit to nearby ‘Killhope Lead-mining Museum’ is a highly recommended

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