This large iron object is a roller from an ore-crusher, discovered in a spoil heap at a lead mine in Coalcleugh, Northumberland. It measures c. 0.5m in length and has a diameter of around 0.4m, and has a square hole running through it to house a drive shaft.
Crushers were used in mines to crush the extracted rock into smaller pieces. This enabled lead ore and other precious minerals to be sorted and processed. The roller would have been one of a pair, that contra-rotated to draw in the mineral, and the ribs would have helped the rollers to grip. The rollers would have been turned either by water or steam power. Extracted rock would have been gravity fed into a hopper above the roller.
Given the that the roller is a solid piece of ironwork, it was extremely heavy to lift. Removing it from site was difficult, as it could not be safely placed into a normal vehicle for transportation, instead it was crane-lifted onto the back of a lorry. As lead mining in Northumberland is an important part of Britain’s industrial past, the landowner was keen that it stayed locally so that it could be viewed in an appropriate setting and so it has been rehomed in Nenthead Mines museum.