Icehouse at Ringstead, 660m south west of Pit House
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020358
Date first listed: 25-Nov-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SY 74612 81593
Reasons for Designation
Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice,
usually removed in winter from ponds and used in the summer for preserving
food and cooling drinks. Thousands of icehouses have been built in England
since the early 17th century. These were initially built only by the upper
level of society, but by the end of the 18th century they were commonplace.
They continued to be built throughout the 19th century, when huge examples
were established by the fishing industry, as well as for use in towns.
Icehouses only became obsolete after the introduction of domestic
refrigerators in the early 20th century.
Of the thousands originally built, some 1500 icehouses have been positively
identified through a combination of archaeological and documentary research.
Although a relatively common class, most recorded examples with surviving
remains will be considered to be of national interest and appropriate for
consideration for either scheduling or listing. They are also generally
regarded as a significant component of local distinctiveness and character.
The icehouse at Ringstead, 660m south west of Pit House, survives well and represents one of only two examples of this form known in Dorset. It is also unusual as it is one of the smallest examples known in the county and the only one known to have been situated in close proximity to the coast. The absence of a closely associated mansion indicates that this example was most likely designed to serve the needs of the local fishing community during the 19th century.
The monument includes an icehouse situated on a west-facing slope immediately
west of the medieval settlement remains of Rigstead, which are the subject of
a separate scheduling.
The icehouse, which occupies an artificial terrace cut into the hillside, has
a flint-built chamber with maximum dimensions of 3m square. This chamber is
covered by a mound composed of earth, stone and turf, with maximum dimensions
of 9m from east to west, 12m from north to south and about 1.5m in height.
Access to the chamber was provided by a door on the northern side, served by
an external open-topped passage, aligned east-west, providing access to the
stream to the west. The passage, which extends for 6m, occupies the northern
end of the terrace. The truncated bank of the natural slope has been revetted
on the northern side of the passage by a flint-built wall. At the eastern end
of the passage an archway extends across linking the top of the icehouse mound
with the natural slope to the north.
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: 29093
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Penny, A, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Icehouses In Dorset, , Vol. Vol 86, (1963), 221
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