Reasons for Designation
Limestone or chalk has been the basic ingredient for lime mortar from at
least Roman times. Since the medieval period, lime has also been used as
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
The lime industry is defined as the processes of preparing and producing
lime by burning and slaking. The basic raw material for producing lime is
limestone or chalk: when burnt at high temperature (roasted or calcined),
these rocks release carbon dioxide, leaving `quicklime' which, by chemical
reaction when mixed with water (`slaking'), can be turned into a stable
powder - lime. 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 and often associated with long
distance water or rail transport. Lime burning as an industry displays
well-developed regional characteristics, borne out by the regional styles
of East Anglia, West Gloucestershire or Derbyshire.
The form of kilns used for lime burning evolved throughout the history of
the industry, from small intermittent clamp and flare kilns, to large
continuously fired draw kilns that could satisfy increased demand from
urban development, industrial growth and agricultural improvement.
Small-scale rural lime production continued in the later 19th and 20th
centuries, but this period of the industry is mainly characterised by
large-scale production and the transfer of technologies from the cement
and other industries. The demand for mortars grew steadily during the 19th
and 20th centuries. The successful production of mortars made with
artificial cement represented an economic challenge to lime production and
gradually replaced the use of lime mortars in major construction and
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.
Yewdale lime kiln 380m south west of Low Yewdale survives well, is a good
example of an early 18th century draw kiln, and will contain buried
remains of an associated lime shed. The kiln's national importance is
enhanced by its unusual regional vernacular style of architecture.
The monument includes Yewdale early 18th century lime kiln and the buried
remains of an associated lime shed which was attached to the front of the
kiln. It is located adjacent to a crag on the north west side of the A593
Coniston to Ambleside road 380m south west of Low Yewdale. It is a single
pot draw hole type kiln which was used to burn limestone.
Typically the limestone was tipped into the kiln from the top via the
charge hole then burned using wood, coal or coke as a fuel. The resultant
quicklime, also known as birdlime or slaked lime, was then shovelled out
from the draw hole at the bottom of the kiln. Lime has many uses including
spreading on lime deficient soils to encourage plant growth, the
whitewashing of walls and ceilings of buildings, and concrete and cement
The lime kiln is of slate construction and is of unusual design in that it
is set into the hillslope and has a square base which gently tapers up to
a circular stack. The draw arch which leads to the draw hole, also known
as the fire hole, is approximately 1.6m high and has a corbelled arch
which is splayed. A metal grate or bar remains in situ above the draw
hole. Evidence th shed was originally attached to the front of the kiln
can be seen by the existence of a timber beam, joist hole and slate drip
course above the draw arch and the stub of a wall to the west of the arch.
A surviving example of a lime shed elsewhere in the area suggests that
such a structure would have extended across the front of the kiln and
measured approximately 5m wide. The circular stack above the kiln, or
charge hole, is largely choked with scru rubbish. Above and to the rear of
the kiln there is a well-built charge ramp with retaining walls along
which stone would be transported prior to being tipped down the charge
hole for burning.
The lime kiln is a Listed Building Grade II.
All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.