Northern part of Rimington lead mines, part of a medieval open field system and three limestone clamp kilns 120m south east of Hollins


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020975

Date first listed: 11-Aug-2003


Ordnance survey map of Northern part of Rimington lead mines, part of a medieval open field system and three limestone clamp kilns 120m south east of Hollins
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Ribble Valley (District Authority)

Parish: Rimington

National Grid Reference: SD 81380 45087


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

Reasons for Designation

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England, spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age (c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites, representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.

Medieval open field systems provided a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These fields were subdivided into strips allocated to individual tenants. Cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs produced long, wide ridges, and where it survives the resultant `ridge and furrow' is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass banks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.

Limestone or chalk has been the basic ingredient for lime mortar from at least Roman times. Since the medieval period, lime has has also been used as an agricultural fertiliser and, since the early 19th century, widely used in a variety of other industries; as a flux in blast furnaces, in the production of gas and oil, and in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. Lime burning sites varied in scale from individual small lime kilns adjacent to a quarry, to large-scale works designed to operate commercially for an extended market. The form of kiln used for lime burning evolved throughout the history of the industry, from small clamp and flare kilns, to large continuously fired draw kilns. From a highly selective sample made at national level, around 200 lime industry sites have been defined as being of national importance. These have been defined to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.

The northern part of Rimington lead mines, part of a medieval open field system and three limestone clamp kilns 120m south east of Hollins survive well. The mines are a rare example in north west England of a site displaying evidence of lead mining from the late 16th to the mid-19th centuries. They contain a range of features associated with mining during this period, including a range of differing technological innovations for mining the mineral vein such as evidence for raking or hushing, surface prospecting and the sinking of shafts. In addition, evidence for 17th/18th century winding methods and evidence for small-scale ore processing at Rimington is attested by the survival of features interpreted as a cog and rung gin circle, a buddle and a spalling floor.


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


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of the northern part of Rimington lead mines together with part of a medieval open field system and three limestone clamp kilns. It is located on the crest of a ridge 120m south east of Hollins and consists of the remains of shafts, spoil heaps, an ore-processing area, a possible buddle where ore was separated, and a rake or prospecting trench. The mine workings are of two periods with later better-preserved features overlying some earlier, more subtle mining features. The mine workings also overlay part of a medieval open field system comprising ridge and furrow cultivation. The clamp kilns lie in a small limestone quarry in the monument's south west corner.

The earliest date when mining began at Rimington is unknown. Documentary sources first mention mining here in the later 16th century when William Pudsey is reputed to have obtained and perhaps coined silver from the mine. In 1656 the ore was tested by an assayer and it was reported that there were 26 pounds of silver to the ton. Some mining may have been undertaken during the 1660's but shortly after this time the Pudsey family sold the mine to pay off debts. No further documentary evidence for mining is known until the mines were leased twice in the 18th century. In 1822 a 20 year lease was agreed between the lessor George Lane-Fox and John Tomkinson and Henry Hayes and it appears that they undertook intensive lead mining until a dramatic fall in the price of lead during the 1830's. The 1851 census shows that only four miners were employed at Rimington and that barytes rather than lead was being mined. An Ordnance Survey (OS) map dated 1853 shows that this early mining area, known then as Skeleron Old Mines, was out of use at this time. By 1876 Messrs Baynes and Colville had taken the mine and were mining small amounts of lead, barytes and zinc. In 1880 the York and Lancaster Mining Company took over and barytes mining increased dramatically for the next five years. An OS map dated 1892 shows that the late 19th century mining activity was undertaken to the south of the early mining area. This southern area was again exploited periodically when small scale 20th century mining for barytes was undertaken shortly after the end of the First World War and again in 1933. In the early 1950's some barytes was produced, possibly from reworking existing spoil tips rather than undertaking new mining operations.

The mining related features in the northern part of Rimington mines follow the lines of two veins which enter the area from the south east and SSE and converge beneath the largest shaft at SD81374508. The remains are described from north to south and include, at SD81344512, a small circular hollow which was either a shaft or prospecting pit to the west of a larger oval shaft with a spoil tip on its northern side. A short distance to the south is another shaft with spoil tips on its north and south west sides. Just south of this, at SD81374508, is the largest feature on the site. It consists of a circular shaft 2m in diameter around which is a circular flat area interpreted as a cog and rung gin circle which suggests a date of either the 17th or 18th century. This gin circle powered the winding mechanism for raising and lowering men and raising ore up the shaft. Around the shaft and gin circle is a carefully graded spoil tip which appears to have been revetted and has an entrance on its south east side. The whole feature is well constructed and it appears on the 1853 OS map. To the south east are two small shaft hollows each with low rings of spoil adjacent. Another feature appearing on the 1853 OS map lies at SD81394506 and consists of a 2m deep shaft with a sharply defined ring of spoil and an entrance on the west. It overlies an earlier feature consisting of a slight platform and hummocks which is interpreted as an ore processing area, also known as a spalling floor. About 35m to the west are two slight hollows with faint rims of spoil interpreted as shaft hollows or prospecting pits. At SD81404506 there is a shaft hollow about 4m across with spoil on the west and north sides which is shown on the 1892 OS map. A short distance to the south east is a circular platform which may be the site of a buddle. This was a device for separating pulverised veinstone into its various minerals. The fine veinstone was shovelled onto the centre where water, fed from a pipe, and a paddle system, agitated the mixture and gradually distributed it across the floor leaving the heavier ore particles near the centre and washing the waste to the edges. To the south east of this circular platform is a small shallow quarry whilst to the south are the remains of another possible shaft hollow. At SD81394503 there is a 17m long prospecting trench which reflects `rake' working along the vein which here either outcropped or was just below the ground surface. A rake, also known as a hush, is a gully or ravine partly excavated by use of a controlled torrent of water to reveal or exploit a vein of mineral ore.

The medieval open field system has two different alignments of ridge and furrow separated by a furlong boundary. The ridge and furrow to the west is aligned approximately north-south and measures 2.5m to 3.5m ridge to ridge, whilst that to the east is aligned north east-south west and measures approximately 3m ridge to ridge.

The limestone clamp kilns lie in a quarry centred at SD81354504. One is at the centre of the quarry while the others are in the south east and south west corners. All are sub-circular, turf-covered, stone-lined, banked hollows about 4m in diameter. Typically small amounts of limestone was burned using wood, coal or coke as a fuel. The resultant quicklime had many uses including spreading on lime-deficient land to encourage plant growth, as an ingredient in building mortar, concrete or cement, or mixing with water to whitewash the walls or ceilings of buildings.

All modern field boundaries and gateposts 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: 34996

Legacy System: RSM


Survey Report, Lancaster University Archaeological Unit, Rimington Lead Mines, Lancashire, (1998)
Survey Report, Lancaster University Archaeological Unit, Rimington Lead Mines, Lancashire, (1998)
Survey Report, Lancaster University Archaeological Unit, Rimington Lead Mines, Lancashire, (1998)

End of official listing