Coal mining remains at Saltwells Wood, immediately west of Saltwells House
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Oct-2019 at 08:55:04.
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
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
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
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