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Mining & Quarrying


Smelting House and Lead at Wanlockhead

20th Century

This photograph shows the smelting house and lead at Wanlockhead, early 1930.


The smelt house or mill was where the miners would smelt the ore during the process of lead mining.  In around 1850 the Duke of Buccleuch had the smelt mill relocated to outside the village, to save the villagers from breathing in harmful fumes from the smelting process.  The fumes from the smelter contained lead and this was recovered from the flues which were set in the hillside.


There is evidence of mining for lead ore or galena around Wanlockhead and Leadhills in the Lowther Hills since the Middle Ages. At that time lead was being exported to Holland and Belgium for use in the production of lead glazed pottery. This area, rich in both lead and precious metals, developed into the centre of the Scottish lead mining industry.


More lead mines were opened across the region from the late 18th to the mid 19th Centuries, at Woodhead near Carsphairn, East and West Blackcraig, near Newton Stewart, and Lackentyre and Kingslaggen, near Gatehouse of Fleet. The lead mines of Dumfriesshire and Galloway were the source of almost all Scottish lead production.

Place of Production:
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire
length 82mm, width 131mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Spring 1930
Dumfries & Galloway Council