Villages out of time: Bolehill village
In contrast to the area around Buxton, most of the villages in the Wirksworth area were recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) and many predate the Norman conquest.
Although the villages were restricted to areas with a reliable water supply, the larger settlements grew in association with lead mining and later with quarrying and textiles. People often combined mining and farming, but the two activities had to be kept apart. If unprotected, cattle could fall into workings or suffer from lead poisoning (locally known as 'belland') particularly after the introduction of cupola smelting in the 1730s. Brassington, Carsington, Hopton, Bolehill, Cromford, Crich and the town of
Wirksworth are all at the point where the limestone and shale outcrops meet to forming a springline.
The main part of each settlement is based on the impervious shale with its surface streams, usually on lower areas. Despite the fact that the shale slopes were unstable and liable to landslip, the people who established the settlement at Bolehill (which takes its name from an old local term for a lead smelter) preferred this ground to more stable limestone land which had no water supply.
Villages such as Bonsall, Slaley, Ible and Middleton which were established on limestone gained their supply from water tables 'perched' on impervious basalt lavas or other volcanic rocks.