Coal mining remains at Cornbrook on Clee Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018470

Date first listed: 01-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Coal mining remains at Cornbrook on Clee Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Coreley

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hopton Wafers

National Grid Reference: SO 60889 76178


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. 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 at Cornbrook on Clee Hill survive undisturbed and in good condition, offering a rare concentration of complex mining earthworks and other associated remains, such as drainage channels, reservoirs and trackways.

These remains preserve valuable information about the developing technology of the coal mining industry, from its early low-mechanisation stages through to later 19th century steam-powered workings. The shaft mound features are considered to be some of the best in the country and cover a wide chronological range. Buried features, particularly the remains of winding gear, will survive in the vicinity of the shafts, providing information on the sequence of technologies used at such mines.


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


The monument lies 1.7km north east of Cleehill village, on some of the highest ground in Shropshire. It includes a number of earthworks and buried remains associated with an area of coal mining which was worked from at least 1260 until the 20th century. The varied earthworks include shallow pits typical of early manual extraction, gin circles for horse-powered winding gear, and large steam-powered shaft workings. There are also numerous trackways, tramways and very large spoil tips showing fingertip formations. The remains show complex relationships, with early workings overlain or extended by later ones, and evidence of simpler technologies being superseded by later mechanisation. In 1260-63, a license was granted to `dig coles within the forest of La Clie'. At this time coal was won from outcrops, by adits, or by the sinking of small pits. In the 19th century, most of the mineral rights in the Cornbrook area were bought by the Lewis and Botsfield families, who introduced steam power and a system of drainage cuts to allow the working of deeper seams. By the 1840s Clee Hill's miners were approximately 250 in number and produced around 25,000 tons of coal per annum. The Lewis and Botsfield holdings passed to smaller companies; coal seams were worked out and were largely abandoned at the end of the 19th century, although the Cornbrook colliery or Barn Pit continued in use until 1927. The north eastern part of the site retains evidence for a large concentration of the remains of low-mechanisation mining, with a great number of spoil heaps typically 1m high and 3m-4m long. Some workings have associated gin circles (flat platforms on which horses were driven to power winding machinery). Shallow pits in this area represent hand- cutting from exposed coal and ironstone outcrops. Preserved working faces will retain valuable technological data about early mining. To optimise coal extraction pits were closely spaced, and in many cases the early workings are partly covered by later spoil, showing that seams were reworked as technology allowed deeper mining. Other parts of the site are dominated by the remains of larger-scale extraction, including large shaft mounds and spoil heaps rising to a height of around 12m and width of up to 110m. Some of these features are associated with known 19th century mines such as Jewstone Pit, Barn Pit and Rhin Pit. In some cases the spoilheaps themselves are cut by deep shafts from which coal was removed along trackways and later tramways, which survive as an extensive network of broad grassy tracks (around 2m wide and sometimes marked by shallow banks of spoil at the edges) leading from the coalfield to Cleehill village to the south west. Deeper workings required drainage tunnels, several of which were cut within the area, and it is likely that some shaft mounds are remnants of ventilation shafts supplying air to workers cutting these tunnels. In at least one case a drainage tunnel fed into a reservoir holding water for a steam engine or underground wheel, and the reservoir survives as a roughly rectangular earthwork. Further water channels or leats to direct surface water away from the workings will provide evidence for water management on Clee Hill. Further coal mining remains to the north west and north east of the site are the subject of separate schedulings. Modern fences, walls, gates and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 31762

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
RCHME, , 'Annual Review 1983-4' in Surveys of Industrial Landscapes: Clee Hill, Shropshire..., (1984)
Goodman, Map, c1769, accompanying Goodman's thesis, 1769, Further details unknown
RCHME, RCHM Study of the Clee Hill area, (1983)
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 6" Map Source Date: 1903 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 6" scale

End of official listing