Coal mining remains at Saltwells Wood, immediately west of Saltwells House


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


Ordnance survey map of Coal mining remains at Saltwells Wood, immediately west of Saltwells House
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dudley (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 93080 87229

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 Saltwells Wood survive well and represent a rare survival of early coal extraction. In particular, the preservation of working faces, earthwork and buried remains will provide evidence for both historical and technological developments over a considerable timescale from the medieval to the industrial period. Working faces from all periods will preserve details of the tools used in extraction, whilst pits will preserve details of extraction, transport and haulage methods. Other buried remains will provide evidence about pit-head equipment such as winding gear, whilst undisturbed underground workings will preserve details of the extraction, ventilation and drainage technology employed at the site. The location of the site in the Black Country shows the importance of coal in the industrialisation of the area.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of medieval and post-medieval coal extraction located immediately to the west of Saltwells House. Coal and iron extraction is recorded in the area from at least the 1300s onwards. Evidence for the earliest phase of coal extraction at the site is visible as a series of shallow depressions and hummocks which represent the remains of out-cropping. This is the simplest method of coal extraction and is believed to represent the earliest phase of extraction on the site which follows the surface outcrops of coal seams. A number of bell pits are visible as a series of closely spaced pits surrounded by mounds of spoil thrown up from the initial cutting of the shaft. Bell pits are characteristic of medieval coal extraction and were formed when vertical shafts were dug down to the coal seam. Once the coal seam was reached, coal was extracted in all directions until the unsupported roof threatened to collapse, giving the pits a characteristic bell-shaped profile. Several large shaft mounds are associated with gin circles (platforms on which horses walked around to power drainage and winding apparatus) which provide evidence for post-medieval coal extraction in the area. In addition, evidence for other structures such as pit head gear, ventilation shafts and engine and winding houses can be expected to survive as buried features. All modern paths and surfaces, fences and woodland furniture 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:


notes and commnets, Various SMR officers, Various notes in SMR,


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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