Bohetherick lime kiln with adjacent quay and ancillary buildings, 140m south east of Cotehele Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021075

Date first listed: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of Bohetherick lime kiln with adjacent quay and ancillary buildings, 140m south east of Cotehele Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Dominick

National Grid Reference: SX 42279 67904


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

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.

The Bohetherick lime kiln survives very well with little modification since its abandonment. Its overall design is typical of most Cornish lime kilns of this period but it also contains several unusual features, notably the upper vents to the pots and the clear evidence for phasing in its construction. The close proximity of the kiln with the quay and its ancillary buildings provides a good example of the structural grouping associated with lime burning of this period, an aspect further enhanced by the several surviving 19th century illustrations depicting this kiln while in use. The presence of the surviving lime kilns at Cotehele Quay demonstrates well the wider context, with kilns densely distributed behind most mooring points along the estuary.


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


The scheduling includes the Bohetherick lime kiln with the adjacent access trackway and quay, situated on the west bank of the River Tamar at its confluence with the Morden stream. The quay contains three built structures ancillary to the lime kiln. The lime kiln is a Listed Building Grade II. The Bohetherick lime kiln was constructed during the late 18th to early 19th centuries to provide slaked lime for both building and agricultural uses. It contains a row of three conical pots designed to operate continuously, the central pot flanked by two others of later phases. The fabric of the structure is of random slate rubble. The kiln is built on a bedrock plinth into which its features are cut to a depth of 1.1m at the western end. A string course defines the upper third of the kiln's central portion and the draw-arch to its east; the absence of the string course at each end suggests phases in the kiln's construction reflecting modification and repair throughout its working life. Details of the kiln's fabric and form suggest a construction sequence with the larger central pot built first, followed by those at the eastern and western ends respectively. The pots are in the form of inverted cones, the normal design in Cornwall in the 18th and 19th centuries. Each pot is accessed by a draw-arch; one to each side in the kiln's central section serves a central pot and the pot on that side. The eastern pot is served by an additional draw-arch on the east of the kiln. The wall dividing the base of each pot from the draw-arch is pierced by a rectangular draw-hole, through which the burnt lime was extracted, with a smaller poke-hole above to dislodge any encrusted deposits. The eastern and western pots are also provided with higher-level vents in tall, narrow openings in the kiln's outer face. Towards the River Tamar and the Morden stream the kiln fronts a roughly levelled quayside area shown with a revetted edge on the 1842 Tithe Map. A painting by George Cole dated 1872 shows a sailing vessel berthed alongside the quay. Remains of two small ancillary buildings and a loading wharf survive on the quay surface in positions matching those of structures also shown on the 1842 Tithe Map. The footings of one building protrude from the Tamar riverbank to the east of the kiln, appearing as a rubble-built wall corner from a structure with a slate-paved interior, extending beneath the uneven land between the kiln and the water's edge. The second building appears as low walling of a rectangular structure levelled into the steeply sloping southern bank of the Morden stream north west of the lime kiln. The third structure is a walled loading wharf to the SSE of the lime kiln on the bank of the River Tamar. The quay and the lime kiln were accessed by tracks leading down from the road above on the west and south. A sloping track, called a charging ramp, also rises from the quay to the eastern side of the lime kiln's rear side. This kiln lies within the parish of St Dominick, which has the longest recorded tradition of lime burning in the Tamar Valley with a kiln in operation nearby at Halton by 1411. The increased exploitation of burnt lime for agricultural use from the mid-18th century led to the construction of lime kilns on most of southern Cornwall's coastal sites and estuaries accessible to small cargo vessels. The Tamar estuary is particularly rich in kilns of this period including two groups of surviving 19th century kilns behind Cotehele Quay, lying some 120m north of this scheduling. The surface of the modern metalled road and all modern fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35821

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Isham, K, Lime Kilns and Limeburners in Cornwall, (2000)
Isham, K, Lime Kilns and Limeburners in Cornwall, (2000)
Isham, K, Lime Kilns and Limeburners in Cornwall, (2000)
Luck, L, The National Trust Country Walks: Cotehele Estate, (1994)
Title: 1st Edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 2nd Edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1907 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Landline vector Mapping 1:2500 Source Date: 2002 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: St Dominick Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment CRO TM50/TA50 Source Date: 1842 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing