Nucleated coal mine and coke oven on Fountains Fell


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017715

Date first listed: 25-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Nucleated coal mine and coke oven on Fountains Fell
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Halton Gill

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Malham Moor


National Grid Reference: SD 86606 71654


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

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. The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap. Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops, pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites. 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 nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual component features are considered to merit protection.

The major secondary product produced from coal at the colliery was coke. This was formed by heating coal in the absence of air. Initially this took place in open heaps and from the 18th century onwards in purpose built structures. Early coke ovens used a range of stalls, hearth-like structures and ovens. By the 19th century these developed into a standardised form known as the beehive oven after its distinctive shape. The coal workings on Fountains Fell preserve important evidence of the coal extraction processes, and shaft top features will survive. The coke oven is well preserved and is one of the earliest surviving examples of the beehive form; most are post-1840 in date. The oven retains important information about early coking technology. Taken together the oven and the wider colliery offer important evidence about the development of the industry.


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


The monument includes the standing remains of a beehive coke oven and part of the surrounding mine shafts and shaft mounds from early coal extraction, located on exposed moorland on Fountains Fell. The coke oven is a square stone built structure of roughly coursed sandstone rubble. It measures approximately 4m square and stands 2m high on the south side. Inside, the oven consists of a hemispherical dome 2.2m in diameter and 1.3m to the apex, although the top of the dome has subsided. It is this shape from which the name beehive derives. The entrance to the oven is formed by an arched opening in the south side. The coal used in the coke oven was extracted from the immediate area. Remains of this activity are preserved in the shafts themselves and mounds surrounding the top of each shaft. Some of the shafts are open and the stone built lining can be seen. The shaft mounds were formed by excavated spoil and will retain evidence of pit top features such as winding gear and gin circles. Evidence of initial sorting and working of the coal may also be present at the shaft tops. The shafts and shaft mounds extend over a wide area, although only a sample of the core of the complex is included in the scheduling. A complex of trackways survives throughout the monument. The trackways connected the shafts to the coke oven and provided access to the mine. The colliery was founded around 1807 by Lord Ribblesdale primarily to provide fuel for processing calamine as part of the zinc industry, at nearby Malham. After 1815 coke was also used for smelting lead at Malham Moor. The colliery developed slowly but by 1810 was far enough advanced to justify the construction of a track for moving both coal and materials. The maximum output was achieved in 1812 and after that date production slowly declined. It is not known exactly how long the oven and colliery remained in use, although in 1830 some work was still being undertaken. The stone wall, gates stiles and fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 29531

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Maude, K, Fountains Fell Coke Oven, (1991)
Raistrick, A, Mines and Miners on Malham Moor, (1983)
Cranstone, D, 'Journal of Historic Mining Society' in Early Coke Ovens: A Note, , Vol. VOL 23/2, (1989), 121-122

End of official listing