Page last updated 28/11/09

Dotland and Blackhall Mill

Dowdy Dotland stands on the hill,
Hungry Yarrish looks at it still.
Barker House's a little below.
There's mokes i' the cairn at Hamburn ho'.

Old rhyme quoted by Godfrey Watson in 'Northumberland Place Names'

Four kilometres south of Hexham, in the Middle Quarter of Hexhamshire, Dotland lies between the West Dipton Burn to the north and Rowley Burn to the south, tributaries of the Devil's Water which feeds into the Tyne. At the end of the 17th century the Orde's had moved from the moorland farming area in the High Quarter of Hexhamshire to the south to the better pasture land at Barker House but at the same time the water power and woodland in the river valleys supported a lead smelting industry servicing the lead mines in the Derwent valley to the south and a cloth dyeing industry as well as the more normal corn mills.

Dotland 1830 (Click on map for larger area)

From Dotland looking south to the moors

Richard Swindel and his sons are recorded as living at Dotland, Mollersteads, Dalton and Hole House. This does not imply that they owned or were even the principal tenants of these properties - most of Dotland was owned by the Rowland family, Mollersteads by the Dixon's, and Dalton and Hole House by the Orde's. Dotland and Barker House are now both apparently relatively modern stone farm-houses but Mollersteads and Dalton are much more typical buildings for the area. An estate at Mollersteads was purchased around 1764 to provide an endowment for the minister of the newly established Whitley Chapel.

Mollersteads farm
(The building at the rear left was the original vicarage)

Click here for aerial view

Mollersteads farmhouse

Dalton Farm

Hole House


When Richard Swindall is described as living at Hole House it was the home of his brother Christopher's brother-in-law, Abraham Orde, whose occupation is given as a dyer but it shortly passed to the Edward Forster whose great-grandson Westgarth Forster was to become renowned in the mining industry for his pioneering geological treatise on 'A Section of the Strata from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Cross Fell'. Other Forsters were prominent agents in the lead mining industry.

Blackhall Mill (Lead Smelter)

A few hundred yards down the Rowley Burn from Mollersteads was Blackhall Mill. First mentioned in 1653, it was probably closed in 1779 and by the time of the 1897 history of Northumberland it does not even rate a mention. It was sold by John Swinburn in 1695 to Timothy Davidson and Nicholas Ridley, merchant of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It appears to have mainly processed ore from the mines in the Derwent valley (Hunstanworth, Jeffrey's) but there is a suggestion that William Blackett aquired an interest in this mill at the same time as he was purchasing the Allendale mines at the end of the 17th century.  The Algood family interests in Sharpley Mine near Simonburn and on Alston Moor have also been mentioned. (The Black Hall Mill shown on the 1830 map is a corn mill located downstream from the old lead mill).

Dukesfield Mill (Lead Smelter)

Half a mile to the south-west of Blackhall Mill, on the south bank of Devil's Water was Dukesfield Mill. The connection to lead smelting dates back to at least 1551 but the Blackett family are thought to have built the smelt mill early in the 17th century and it remained in operation until 1834 when it was closed and dismantled. During this period it was the largest of the Blackett mills but other smelt mills were built at Rookhope, Allenheads and Allendale. (Note on renovation)

Remains of the Dukesfield Mill

Windy Hill & Site of Black Hall Smelt Mill - Parish of Hexham. Purchase from Representatives of Jonathan Featherston.  NRO 2762/E/X9  19 Sept 1859