Medieval or Early Post-medieval Tannery, Scotchman's Copse


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013014

Date first listed: 07-Jun-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Oct-1990


Ordnance survey map of Medieval or Early Post-medieval Tannery, Scotchman's Copse
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 23:32:55.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Surrey

District: Reigate and Banstead (District Authority)

Parish: Horley

National Grid Reference: TQ 29647 44489


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The provision of leather, particularly for footwear but also for other items of clothing such as belts, purses etc., was an important service industry and the use of the oak bark process spans the period from the Roman Conquest to the Industrial Revolution. Tanneries are more frequently found in towns (for example Winchester, Kings Lynn and Perth) but the industry is thought to have moved away from populated areas in the 14th and 15th centuries and it is in this context that the site is perhaps best viewed. Tanneries of any kind are a rare type of monument, but these relocated, rural tannery sites have very seldom been identified in the field. As a result of their rarity, the full range of forms in which tanneries might exist is not known, but they are characterised by the presence of series of pits for steeping hides and by a water supply system for subsequent cleaning. The example in Scotchman's Copse is important as none other has been identified in the South-East of England. It survives well, the area not having been disturbed since abandonment of the tanyard around 1800, and holds high potential for the recovery of a wide variety of archaeological evidence. The monument can also be tied into a number of historical references to tanning in Horley.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument in Scotchman's Copse, formerly interpreted as a medieval moated site, includes an L-shaped broad ditch and the area of land effectively enclosed between the ditch and the Burstow Stream to the north and east. The ditch and enclosed area contain the remains of a tannery dating from the late Medieval or early Post-medieval period. The tanning of leather was a noisome activity which involved steeping hides, usually from cattle but also from goats and pigs, in pits containing an ooze of oak bark, lime and other substances, often for more than a year. The broad rectangular depression within the enclosed area of the monument betrays the location of these pits. Having been preserved by the tannin from the oak bark, the leather required thorough washing. The L-shaped ditch, which would formerly have been supplied by water directly from the stream, was used for this washing process. Other evidence may be expected to survive: the heads and hooves of the animals which provided the skins were frequently discarded at the tanneries, tools used in cleansing the hides of fat may have been thrown away and offcuts of leather may have been left on the site. Documentary evidence suggests that the tannery was in use during the reign of Elizabeth I, during which time Horley had a reputation for its leather products, and had gone out of use by the late 1700s. The former tannery has lent its name to the adjoining Tanyards Farm. The surface of the footpath which crosses the SE corner of the monument is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath remains included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 12757

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Surrey: Volume I, (1902)
Dr M Nieke , Note of file 01/12/89,
Manu. held by Guildhall Lib. London, Deeds and Papers Christ's Hospital Estate (Dame M Ramsey gift), Manuscript 13,594 (Parts I and II) ca 1500-1800,
Manuscript held by Guildhall Library, Admissions etc relating to Tanyards estate (Dame M Ramsey gift), Manuscript 13,611 (Guildhall Library, London),
Surrey Antiquity 866,

End of official listing