Rosedale East Mines calcining kilns and iron mines, 280m east and 610m north east of Stables Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Rosedale East Mines calcining kilns and iron mines, 280m east and 610m north east of Stables Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
Rosedale East Side
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 70561 98803, SE 70591 98108

Reasons for Designation

Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry, spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques, including open casting, seam-based mining similar to coal mining, and underground quarrying, and resulting in a range of different structures and features at extraction sites. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small, relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced from the 16th century by blast furnaces which were larger and operated at a higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge, but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to more sophisticated types of furnaces. A comprehensive survey of the iron and steel industry has been conducted to identify a sample of ten sites of national importance that represent the industry's chronological range, technological breadth and regional diversity. Iron ore occurs in two main chemical forms, as a carbonate and as an oxide. The carbonate ores require calcining (roasting) to drive off carbon dioxide, converting the ore into an oxide before it can be smelted to produce iron or steel. Calcining also improves the ore for smelting by driving off water and other volatile substances, and by breaking the ore into smaller fragments. The earliest and simplest method of calcining was to pile ore and fuel into a heap known as a clamp, and then to set light to it. The sites of clamps can sometimes be recognised by deposits of gritty red or purple calcine dust, also known as fines. Although clamps were used into the 20th century in some areas, they were generally replaced with calcining kilns from the 17th century, as these were found to require less fuel. Initially similar to lime kilns, they were typically stone-built structures which were loaded from the top, with the calcined ore drawn out through an arched opening at the base. In the 19th century, kiln design developed, employing new materials such as fire-brick and ironwork. There were two principal forms of kiln. Both operated in a similar manner, but had different interior shapes. One was rectangular or elliptical in plan, with an inverted cone-shaped cross section and two or more arched openings along its base through which the calcined ore was drawn. The second, known as the Gjers type, was circular in plan, narrowing to both top and bottom in cross section. Both operated continuously, with ore and fuel loaded at intervals in the top and the calcined ore drawn out from the bottom. Calcining frequently took place close to where the ore was smelted, and sometimes actually at the mine, especially where transportation costs were a major factor, because calcining both reduced the weight of the ore by between 15 and 50% and increased its value. Because of their ephemeral nature, evidence of calcining clamps of any date rarely survive. Thus any sites with confirmed remains in addition to calcine dust are considered to be of national importance. Kilns are a more common survival, and a representative sample of better preserved calcining kilns, illustrating the range of different designs, are considered to merit protection. Those retaining remains of associated mining and/or smelting complexes are considered to be of particular importance.

The ironstone mines of the North York Moors and the Cleveland Hills were of great national economic importance. A sample of the better preserved sites, including a representative range of extraction techniques and structures, are considered to merit protection. Rosedale witnessed an explosion in iron mining in the mid-19th century, its population increasing from 548 in 1851 to 2839 in 1871. This has left an extensive industrial landscape across and around Rosedale which is amongst the best iron mining landscapes known nationally. The monument forms an important and well preserved core area of this wider landscape. The kilns are well preserved and retain a wide range of associated mining and transport features which aid our understanding of the way in which the kilns functioned as part of the wider complex.


The monument includes standing, buried and earthwork remains of a mid-19th century iron mining complex located on the eastern side of Rosedale, extending between 2.8km and 3.5km north west of the village of Rosedale Abbey. It includes the standing remains of two banks of calcining kilns, the ruins of a workshop range, a mine ventilation chimney, and remains of other mining related structures. It also includes sample lengths of quarry face and spoil tips, along with sections of a tramway which runs on the same level and to the east of the two sets of kilns and a standard gauge branch line which runs parallel to this downhill to the west. The monument is in two areas of protection, each focussed on one of the banks of calcining kilns. These are core areas of Rosedale's wider iron mining landscape and further 19th century industrial remains lie beyond the boundary of the monument. The iron mines of Rosedale were a fringe part of the important Cleveland iron ore field in which the ore mostly occurs as horizontally bedded Jurassic ironstone, typically as a thick seamed, but relatively low grade ore. Apart from small scale medieval surface workings, Cleveland iron ore was first exploited in the 1830s, peaked at six million tons in 1883, a third of Britain's output, and declined after World War I to end in 1964. The ore field was very important economically and helped to make Middlesbrough the centre of the international iron market in the late 19th century. At first the iron ore was typically worked by quarrying the outcrops, then by mining via drifts driven into the face, the thick seams often requiring no extraction of waste rock. This has left extensive, generally linear areas of remains, including working faces, tramways, engine houses, and relatively small waste tips compared to other mining sites. In Rosedale rich deposits of iron ore were discovered in 1853 near Hollins Farm on the west side of Rosedale, which prompted prospecting around the rest of the dale. A branch line was constructed by the North Eastern Railway which was opened to its terminus at Low Bearing in August 1865. By about this time the Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company had opened the East Mines, working a seam of ironstone around 4m thick. This was a carbonate ore which required calcining before smelting and the company built two banks of calcining kilns, known as the Old and New Kilns, to process the ore before transporting it out of the dale via the branch line. In 1866, the first full year of production, the East Mines produced over 168,000 tons of ore, doubling in the early 1870s. However, there was then a slump in the iron market and the company collapsed in 1879. The mines were reopened by the Carlton Iron Company in 1881, which transferred steam powered haulage equipment to the East Mines from the Rosedale West Mines after they closed in 1885. In 1900 an electric generator for haulage, drilling and lighting was installed, but this was removed when the company ceased production in 1911. Mining was then continued by a partnership, rapidly scaling down operations as the deposits were worked out. The large tips of iron rich calcine dust below both sets of kilns were removed between 1920 and 1927. Production at the East Mines, the last working in Rosedale, ended with the 1926 General Strike and the workings were officially abandoned in 1927, with the railway branch line finally closing on 13th June 1929. The iron ore was initially extracted by quarrying along the dale side where it outcropped, using some of the spoil to create level terraces for a narrow gauge tramway along the foot of the quarry and the standard gauge branch line below. Sample lengths of this quarry form the eastern sides of the two areas of protection. Quarrying was soon replaced by underground mining via drifts. The monument includes at least five of these drift entrances, all of which have collapsed. Three of these were still operational in 1912 when the area was mapped by the Ordnance Survey. The southernmost drift, which lies 30m NNE of the northern end of the Old Kilns, retains a free standing stone arch 3m wide which formed the original drift portal. Just outside the next drift, 40m north, there are the sandstone footings of a structure just over 4m square with a concrete engine bed 1m by 0.6m at its centre. This is interpreted as the mounting for a small electric winding engine for hauling mine tubs along the drift, the surrounding footings being the remains of its engine house. In the northern area, 140m SSE of the New Kilns, there is a collapsed drift marked as Day Hole on the 1:10,000 map. Just outside this to the south west, there are the remains of another engine house. This was larger, the main building over 10m by 8m, and was also built of stone. Disturbed by subsidence, it still retains a pair of sandstone engine beds which are interpreted as the mountings for a steam powered winding engine for underground tramway haulage. The underground tramways, which were all initially horse drawn, fed into the tramway that ran along the foot of the quarries. At its height, this tramway extended over 3km running from the New Kilns and linking the drifts and quarries along the dale side southwards and then beyond the Old Kilns south and eastwards, almost as far as North Dale. The monument includes samples of this tramway system, including a range of features like stone built culverts, retaining walls and embankments. The monument also includes the complex of branches, sidings and other features to the east of the northern set of kilns. This tramway allowed ore to be loaded directly from the mine tubs into the top of both sets of calcining kilns. By 1912 there was also a chute at the north end of the New Kilns to allow the tubs to be emptied directly into waggons on the branch line below. Leading towards the site of this chute, the tramway runs along a 74m long stone lined cutting 0.8m to 1.4m deep and 2.25m wide. The two sets of calcining kilns are of different designs. The southern kilns, known as the Old Kilns, are thought to have been built first. They form a massive rectangular stone structure nearly 90m long, built against the hillside. The interiors of each of the four kilns are elliptical in plan, and each has four firebrick lined arched openings 4m to 5m wide through the base of the western wall. The construction of this western wall also shows that the two southern kilns were a later addition to the northern pair. In the 1920s the upper part of the centre section was taken down to allow a winding engine to be placed on top. This powered a short incline up the face of the calcine dust tips to the west, allowing the dust to be loaded into waggons on the branch line. The New Kilns to the north also survive as a massive rectangular stone structure nearly 90m long built into the hillside. However, these kilns were partly constructed with wrought iron plates which were removed after abandonment and the kilns now survive as a west facing open fronted structure, its three kilns forming three separate bays. The southern two kilns are choked with fallen debris, but the northernmost kiln has been cleared to exhibit its structure. This shows that the kiln interior is rectangular, narrowing towards its base, with the rear and side walls lined with firebrick, a lot of which has fallen away. At the base of the rear wall there are four narrow arched flues also lined with firebrick, and at the top there are the stubs of a series of iron tie bars. These tie bars are thought to have supported the iron plates which formed the front of the kilns. Both the Old and New Kilns would have worked continuously with ironstone and coal loaded into the top as the still hot calcined ore was drawn out from the bottom and loaded straight into metal bodied trucks on the branch line. It has been estimated that each kiln could produce around 2000 tons of calcined ore a week using about 80 tons of coal. The monument includes a number of other features characteristic of iron mining sites. It is thought that in common with iron mining practices in Cleveland, most of the non-iron bearing rock removed during mining would have been stacked up underground. However, extending to the south of the Old Kilns there is a finger tip of mine spoil, suggesting that some sorting of waste rock from the ore took place immediately before loading the kilns. There is another set of spoil tips to the east of the New Kilns. These show a clear sequence from a different type of operation. The tips are the result of the removal of overburden to allow the outcrop of ironstone to the east of the New Kilns to be quarried back. These tips demonstrate the difficulties of quarrying in a confined area and they overlie parts of the tramway network shown on the 1912 map. One of the tramway lines covered by spoil leads to the eastern side of a range of five ruined workshops. This range measures just over 40m by 8m and is of rubble stone construction. The side walls typically stand to 0.6m to 1.8m high, with the gable ends and internal dividing walls standing much higher, some to eaves height. These workshops serviced equipment used at the mines and kilns. For instance, the northernmost workshop, which is entered by a tramway, is thought to have been used for repairing mine tubs. They appear to have been supplied by rail, as on the west side of the workshops there is the track bed for a siding off the branch line. Lying next to the tramway, approximately halfway between the Old and New Kilns, there are the remains of an explosives magazine. This is included in the southern area of protection and survives with a 0.5m thick stone walls up to 0.8m high, describing a two celled building with 6m square room which is accessed via a room 4m by 3m on its south side. The southern area of protection also includes a 3.7m square, stone built chimney standing to 7.5m high, which lies 40m east of the northern end of the Old Kilns. The chimney, which was for mine ventilation, has two opposing arched openings at its base lined with firebrick. This was designed to allow a fire to be lit in the base of the chimney to draw foul air up mine from the mine workings below. All fence posts 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.

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Books and journals
Hayes, , Rutter, , 'Research Report' in Rosedale Mines and Railway, , Vol. 9, (1974)
Typescript report, Lane, Paul , Archaeology of the Ironstone Industry of Rosedale, (1989)


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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