Ancient court awards mining rights to safeguard show cave

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AN ancient court has been convened for the first time in more than 25 years after the owners of a Peak District “show cave” realised someone else could stake a claim to their mining rights.

Treak Cliff Cavern, in Castleton, is a major tourist attraction in the area, and trades on the Blue John mineral stone which is mined there and sold as a souvenir and used in local jewellery.

But the cave started its life as a lead mine, and its managing director Vicky Turner said she had applied to the Peak District Barmote Court, which governs lead mining in the area, to preserve the caves.

She added; “The laws of lead mining rights are ancient and complex and there is a possibility that it we didn’t register the rights then someone else could.

“This would hinder our ability to operate the show cave so we approached the court.”

The Barmote Court dates back more than 700 years and was first set up to ensure payments of royalties from mines owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

It is unlikely that the owners of the cave will exercise their rights.

Court jury foreman Jim Rieuwerts said: “The courts were set up to settle disputes between miners. The Low Peak Barmote Court is one of only two still in existence and Treak Cliff’s claim is the first it has heard in a quarter of a century.”