Site of watermill 290m south east of West Leaze


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016313

Date first listed: 14-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Site of watermill 290m south east of West Leaze
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Swindon (Unitary Authority)

District: Swindon (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wroughton

National Grid Reference: SU 14053 82974


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

Reasons for Designation

A watermill uses the gravitational force of water to turn a paddled wheel, the energy thus generated in the axle of the wheel enabling the operation of varying kinds of machinery. The waterwheel can be set directly into a stream, with a simple `shut' to control water flow, or may be spring fed or use tidal waters. More usually, however, an artificial channel, or leat, is diverted from the main watercourse and its flow to the wheel regulated by sluices. Depending on the height at which water is supplied, the wheel is described as overshot, breastshot, or undershot. The spent water returns to the main stream via a tailrace which may be straightened to increase efficiency. Where the natural flow of water is inadequate, a millpond may be constructed to increase the body of water (and thus the flow) behind the wheel. Simple vertical waterwheels used for irrigation had been in use in the Roman period, although the earliest mill so far identified was dated from its timbers to the late 7th century AD. Early medieval mills could have wheels set horizontally or vertically. By the time of the Domesday Book an estimated 6000 mills were in existence, and the number increased steadily over the next three centuries. During the medieval period, mills, usually used for corn grinding, were a sign of status, and an important source of income to the lord of the manor who usually leased the mill and its land to the miller. With technological improvements, an increasing range of equipment including fulling stocks, tilt hammers, bellows, and textile machinery could be powered by watermills, and they became increasingly important to urban and rural life and industry. With the advent of steam power and the introduction of iron gears in the 18th century, waterpower eventually became obsolete for major industry, although many smaller rural mills continued in use. As a common feature of the rural and urban landscape, watermills played an important role in the development of technology and economy. Many of those retaining significant original features or of particularly early date will merit protection.

The watermill 290m south east of West Leaze will contain within its buried deposits preserved waterlogged remains of timber structures providing evidence relating to its construction.


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


The monument includes the remains of a watermill located 290m south east of West Leaze on the south western outskirts of Swindon. The site is situated to the east and south of the River Ray on low lying ground which rises steeply to the north and north east towards Swindon and falls away gradually south towards the chalk escarpment which forms the edge of the Marlborough Downs. Identifiable elements of the mill which survive as earthworks include the site of the mill itself, the millrace and the tailrace. The mill site includes two irregular shaped mounds, one slightly elongated and 20m across, the other sub-circular and 15m in diameter, separated by a narrow channel approximately 1m wide within which the wheel and associated structures may have been located. To the north of this is the millrace which channelled water from the river to the mill. This has become largely infilled but is still visible as a slight depression up to 8m wide. A further length of millrace south of Mill Lane has been recut and incorporated within a recent hedgerow and is consequently not included in the scheduling. The tailrace, which returned water to the river, survives as a slight depression for a distance of approximately 100m and is included in the scheduling. 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: 28966

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing