Coal mining remains and brick works on Catherton Common


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Coal mining remains and brick works on Catherton Common
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014869 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Sep-2019 at 02:15:22.


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Hopton Wafers
National Grid Reference:
SO 61772 77718, SO 62482 77894

Reasons for Designation

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000 coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. Extensive coal workings are typical of the medieval and post-medieval coal industry, although this style of exploitation continued into the early 20th century in some marginal areas which were worked on a very small scale with little capital investment. In its simplest form extensive workings took coal directly from the outcrop, digging closely spaced shallow pits, shafts or levels which did not connect underground. Once shallower deposits had been exhausted, deeper shafts giving access to underground interconnecting galleries were developed. The difficulties of underground haulage and the need for ventilation encouraged the sinking of an extensive spread of shafts in the area worked. The remains of extensive coal workings typically survive as surface earthworks directly above underground workings. They may include a range of prospecting and exploitation features, including areas of outcropping, adits and shaft mounds (circular or sub-circular spoil heaps normally with a directly associated depression marking the shaft location). In addition, some sites retain associated features such as gin circles (the circular track used by a horse powering simple winding or pumping machinery), trackways and other structures like huts. Some later sites also retain evidence of the use of steam power, typically in the form of engine beds or small reservoirs. Extensive coal mines vary considerably in form, depending on the underlying geology, their date, and how the workings were originally organised. Sites can include several hundred shafts spread over an extensive area. Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of extensive coal workings, together with rare individual component features are considered to merit protection.

The coal mining remains on Catherton Common survive well and represent a remarkable concentration of surface features, ranging from simple shaft mounds of the medieval period through to a mid-19th century colliery complex, and the earthwork remains of its associated transport system. They provide evidence for both the historical and technological developments of extensive mining in this upland landscape. The shaft mound features are considered to be some of the best preserved examples of this type of mining in the country and cover a wide chronological range. Buried features, particularly the remains of manual and horse-powered winding gear, will survive in the vicinity of the shafts, providing information on the sequence of technologies used at such mines through time. The site is accessible to the public and thus serves as an important educational resource and public amentity.


The monument is situated on Catherton Common, approximately 0.8km to the south of Cleeton St Mary and includes a selection from an extensive area of nationally important earthworks and other remains of post-medieval and 18th- 19th century mines, a drift mine, the site of an 18th-19th century colliery complex and its associated brickworks, and the earthwork remains of part of an associated transport system. The monument is in two areas of protecting. Documentary sources indicate that coal was extracted from Catherton Common and the adjacent Clee Hill between the 13th and early 20th centuries. The surface remains of mining activities thus extend over a considerable area and more than 2000 pits have been identified. Many of the historical and technological developments which occurred within this extensive mining landscape are represented by the earthwork and other remains of the mines on Catherton Common and a representative sample of the range of mining remains, including a core area (approximately 28ha), have been selected for inclusion in the scheduling. The coal outcrops were the first areas to be worked, followed by the sinking of small closely-set pits. Once these early sources had been exploited, shafts were sunk in the less steeply inclined areas and were worked through the medieval period until the early 18th century. As the shallower reaches of coal became exhausted, larger pits were sunk to an increasing depth and these are visible as large shaft mounds and are thought to be early 17th to early 19th century in date. In the late 19th century the scale of mining further increased and the working of these small shafts became less practical. Extensive levels or drift mines were driven into the coal seams from sites on the lower slopes, but problems with ventilation and the declining quality of coal as they extended deeper into the hillside led to their abandonment. Advances in mining technology in the 19th century allowed deeper shafts to be sunk and the larger coal reserves beneath the basalt capping to the hill could be mined. The north eastern slopes of Magpie Hill in the western part of the site retain evidence for the earliest mining activites at the site. Several hundred years of mining are believed to be represented in this small area, which measures some 300m by 150m. Along the lower slopes, following the coal outcrop, is a concentration of small, closely-set pits, only 3m-4m apart in places, whilst upslope, and to the west, are the earthwork remains of shaft mounds which increase in size and spread further apart from one another as they ascend the hill. Together they are believed to represent early to post- medieval mining activity. Towards the north eastern extent of these workings is a drift mine which is thought to date from the late 18th century. It extends some 60m into the hillside below Magpie Hill and is 8m wide at ground level. A 19th century tramway incline, which is associated with the 18th-19th century Catherton Colliery in the extreme western part of the site, has been built diagonally across the drift cutting, filling it for 25m of its length. Beyond, and to the north of the drift mine entrance is a spoil heap of clay, stone and some clay which is associated with the mine. It measures 44m by 36m and a 10m wide sample area of the spoil alongside the tramway incline is included in the scheduling to preserve its relationship with the mine. The north eastern part of the monument originally formed part of Blue Stone Colliery which was mined in the 18th century. The associated shafts are visible as closely-set circular or sub-circular depressions which measure 4m-6m across. To the south, these features merge into an area of larger pits, set approximately 30m-40m apart, which are not shown on a 1769 map of the site and are thus considered to be of later date. Their collapsed shafts vary between 6m and 10m in diameter and the surrounding spoil heaps are up to 40m across and 2.5m high, generally with level, fairly circular tops. To the south and west, and higher up the slope, is a group of 17 small mines which are believed to have been worked during the late 18th century. The associated spoil heaps are mostly situated on the downhill side of the shaft. At all but three of the mines the opposite, uphill, side of the shaft has a 10m-12m diameter circular earthen bank which abuts onto the site of the shaft. These banks inidcate the positions of horse gins or whims (winding gear) and at several shafts the centrally-placed post hole for the gin remains visible. The majority of these mines also retain the earthwork remains of sub-circular enclosures which are situated at the base of the spoil heap. They are bounded by low banks and are approximately 15m-20m across. They are thought to have been built as stock enclosures for packhorses and several have small building platforms set into the enclosure bank. The westernmost of these late 18th century mines has no evidence for a horse gin, but there is a small water reservoir to the north west, and it is considered that the shaft was, at some time, operated by steam power. Other subsidiary features associated with this mine shaft include the remains of a water channel feeding into the reservoir, a working area on the east, downhill side of the spoil heap, and a trackway running south towards the course of a late 19th century tramway which is associated with Catherton Colliery. Working areas, visible as low areas of coal waste below the spoil heap, are believed to be present at two other mines within this group. As the scale of mining increased during the late 18th and early 19th century a new shaft was sunk at the south western end of the monument and a small colliery complex was constructed. The shaft has been capped but remains visible as a large depression at the centre of a fan-shaped spoil heap. To the north west of the shaft are the foundations of several buildings and the earthwork remains of a reservoir which measures 45m by 25m and has a low retaining bank along its west side. The earthwork remains of several water channels are visible running between the site of the colliery buildings and the reservoir. Adjacent to the north western side of Catherton Colliery are the earthwork remains of a brickworks and its associated clay pit. The site of a long, narrow rectangular building, and the stone foundations of a smaller building are visible to the north west of the clay pit and are thought to mark the positions of a drying shed and a kiln. A slight circular depression with an enclosing bank is visible beyond the southern corner of the large building and is believed to be the site of a horse gin which would have been used to hoist clay out of the adjacent pit. These earthworks, together with those of the colliery, provide evidence for the final phases of mining at Catherton and are included in the scheduling. Documentary evidence indicates that Catherton Colliery was worked until the late 19th century and is believed to be one of the earliest deep mines in the area. It was served by a network of tramways, including one which ran from Clee Hill village to the south west. A 20m sample length of this tramway is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between the mine and its western transport route. A second tramway runs eastwards from the mine across Catherton Common and its western and central sections are included in the scheduling. It can be traced as a low, raised embankment for much of its length, except on the lower, northern slope of Magpie Hill, where a 300m long incline was operated. This feature takes the form of a raised causeway of earth and stone and is included in the scheduling. The surfaces of all roads, the electricity posts and their support cables, the modern walling and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Clee Hill, (1769)
Goodman, K W, Hammerman's Hill, (1978)
RCHM, SO 67 NW 24, (1983)
RCHM, SO 67 NW 26, (1983)
RCHM, SO 67 NW 34, (1983)
RCHM, SO 67 NW 55, (1983)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].