Foresthead lime kilns, quarry, associated buildings and part of the rail transportation system


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


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Carlisle (District Authority)
Carlisle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 58449 57419

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 industries. 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 engineering projects. 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.

Foresthead lime kilns, quarry, associated buildings and part of the rail transportation system survives well. It forms a landscape of stone extraction, burning and transportation covering a period of almost 200 years and retains examples of changing technological innovations used within this industry during this period. The kilns in particular are well preserved and offer good potential for archaeological investigation to enable a greater understanding of their technological development during their period of use.


The monument includes Foresthead lime kilns and adjacent quarry, the remains of all associated buildings within and adjacent to the quarry and lime kilns. It also includes the remains of part of the railway system, which transported quarried material from the quarry to the kilns, together with the remains of part of the Blacksike Railway which connected both the nearby Blacksike Colliery and Foresthead quarry with the small town of Brampton. It is located on the fellside to the south east of the hamlet of Forest Head.

A lime kiln is thought to have been established at Foresthead during the late 18th century by the then landowner, Lord Carlisle. In 1821 the Blacksike Railway was constructed. This was originally a rope-hauled line used for transporting coal from Blacksike Colliery and limestone from the developing Foresthead limestone quarry down to Brampton. Early 20th century Ordnance Survey maps show the Blacksike Railway running along the northern side of the limestone quarry whilst within the quarry itself there were a number of railway lines taking limestone to the kilns and then taking the burned lime from the kilns a short distance to the Blacksike Railway and on to Brampton. From about 1920 to the 1940s Foresthead quarry provided shale for brickmaking at Kirkhouse brickworks approximately three miles away (4.8km). In 1949 rising haulage costs meant that the railway system here lost out to road transport thus the railway became redundant. Foresthead quarry closed during the latter half of the 20th century.

The lime kilns are of at least two and possibly three phases of construction. They consist of a massive bank of four dressed limestone kilns up to 9m high. The two kilns at the north east end each have two draw holes with half-domed openings while the two kilns at the south west end, which may or may not be contemporary with the other two, each have three draw holes with tunnel openings. The large sandstone facade which has been added to the front of the kilns has obscured the relationship between the kilns and created four uniform draw arches which give access to the individual groups of kilns. Four charge holes above the groups of kilns each have stone linings but have been partly infilled. The kilns are all draw hole type kilns which were used to burn limestone. Typically the limestone was tipped into the kilns from above via the charge holes 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 kilns. 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 production. A short distance west of the kilns there is a three-roomed single-storey building of limestone construction with a slate roof together with a roofless outhouse to the east. It is thought to be the original quarry site office but was latterly used as a small farmstead.

To the south is Foresthead quarry from where first limestone then shale have been extracted from the late 18th century until the latter half of the 20th century. Within the quarry are the remains of at least three roofless brick buildings of uncertain funtion which are considered to be contemporary with the 20th century shale quarrying. Elsewhere within the quarry there are traces of the once extensive railway system used for transporting limestone. Much of the railway has been destroyed by the later shale quarrying, however, it survives best at the north east end of the monument around the kilns where a cutting for the Blacksike Railway passes in front of the kilns. A photograph dated about 1920 shows four railway tracks branching off the main line and entering the draw arches leading to the kilns. The Blacksike Railway is still visible for much of its course along the northern side of the quarry, particularly towards the north west end where it is visible as a substantial embankment. Elsewhere within the quarry there are parallel rows of brick piers, many now toppled, which are thought to be the remains of a possible conveyor system for removing material out of the quarry.

All walls, fences, fence posts, gateposts and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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:


Books and journals
Foresthead lime kiln, Brampton, (1996)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Webb, B, Gordon, D A, Lord Carlisle's Railway, (1978)


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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