Coking ovens and associated coal workings on Aushaw Moss 450m south west of Lower House


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


Ordnance survey map of Coking ovens and associated coal workings on Aushaw Moss 450m south west of Lower House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Blackburn with Darwen (Unitary Authority)
North Turton
National Grid Reference:
SD 73314 19620

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.

Coking is the process by which coal is heated or part-burnt to remove volatile impurities and leave lumps of carbon known as coke. Originally this was conducted in open heaps, sometimes arranged on stone bases, but from the mid-18th century purpose built ovens were employed. By the mid-19th century two main forms of coking ovens had developed, the beehive and long oven, which are thought to have been operationally similar, differing only in shape. Coke ovens were typically built as long banks with many tens of ovens arranged in single or back-to-back rows, although stand alone ovens and short banks are also known. They typically survive as stone or brick structures, but earth-covered examples also exist. Later examples may also include remains of associated chimneys, condensers and tanks used to collect by-products. Coke ovens are most frequently found directly associated with coal mining sites, although they also occur at ironworks and next to transport features such as canal basins. The associated extensive coal workings on Aushaw Moss are a rare surviving example of 19th century coal workings where steam power was never introduced. Remains of more primitive arrangements of both horse powered and man powered winding shafts survive and these features, together with the remains of coking ovens which survive reasonably well and roadways which connect many of the shafts, form a well-preserved low investment coal mining landscape.


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of eight 19th century beehive coking ovens together with associated extensive coal workings consisting of shaft mounds, gin circles and platforms, and connecting roadways. It is located on enclosed moorland on Aushaw Moss 450m south west of Lower House. Although the precise date when coal mining began on Aushaw Moss is unknown, documentary sources indicate that the workings here were operational in 1850; by 1893 these workings had closed. The upstanding remains include two rows of three stone built coking ovens situated facing each other towards the eastern side of the monument, and one pair of stone built coking ovens in the northern part of the monument. The ovens have an opening in the top for charging or filling, probably by wheelbarrow, and an opening at the front for drawing out the coked coal. As coal loses weight when turned into coke the coking ovens here are thought to have made an important contribution to the economic viability of the mining operations at Aushaw by reducing transport costs down from the moor. Scattered around the monument are a number of shaft mounds indicating locations where coal was extracted; these survive as circular hollows each surrounded by a mound of spoil. Adjacent to many of the shaft mounds are gin circles, horse powered winding arrangements for raising coal from the shaft, or platforms on which stood man powered cog-and- rung gins. Many of these dispersed shaft mounds are connected by a network of raised earthwork roadways. All field boundaries, fenceposts, gateposts, and drains 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:


Instone,E., Aushaw Moss - Coal Industry Step 3&4 Reports, 1994,


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

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