Limeworks at The Novers


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


Ordnance survey map of Limeworks at The Novers
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Hope Bagot
National Grid Reference:
SO 59595 73460

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.

Lime extraction was formerly a well-established industry in the area of Clee Hill. The lime kilns, associated tramways, adits, inclined plane and quarries at The Novers form a well-preserved group of features from several different periods. The size of the draw kilns, which are reputed to have had a three-month burn, is remarkable and their structures, including the tunnel approaches to the draw holes, appear to be in good condition.


The monument includes a series of surface quarries and underground workings with dumps, associated roadways and tramways, a length of inclined plane and two draw kilns situated on the southern slope of Knowle Hill in the Clee Hill district. The limeworks appears to have been worked over an extended period. The limestone industry was active in the area from the 17th century and there is evidence of piecemeal surface quarrying which may date to this period. The small scale quarrying was replaced by more methodical quarrying on a large scale witnessed by the large quarries with shelved sides. This culminated in the adits cut beneath the quarry floors, which may have extended to drift mines or alternatively may have provided access to the lower levels of the larger quarries. Stone from the upper adit was carried in wagons down the inclined plane to the draw kilns to the south. Work at the limeworks is believed to have ceased around 1913. There is considerable evidence of shallow surface quarrying across much of the hillside. Amongst the dumps associated with these workings are scatters of burnt lime indicating that during the earlier phases of exploitation the lime was burnt in small kilns adjacent to the quarries. Many of these kilns will have been destroyed by later activity, but some will survive as buried features. These shallow workings probably date to the 17th and 18th centuries. To the centre and north of the monument are the two large quarries with shelved sides. Waste dumps on these shelves indicate that the different layers were dug by hand and that the spoil was piled to the side upon the previous floor level. There is evidence of a collapsed adit below the floor of the southern quarry. This adit cuts into the base of the quarry from the south and connects with the inclined plane. The adit mouth is built of coursed rubble, has straight sides with a round-arched head and is c1.8m wide. To the east flank wall of the tunnel is a shelter. There is a further adit to the south of the site at NGR SO59667354 which is also lined with coursed rubble and leads into the hillside. This adit was probably excavated to provide access to the deeper limestone and spoil generated during its cutting forms a substantial dump at NGR SO59607345. Crossing the site from the north-west to the south-east and running from north to south are a series of tramways. Running roughly north to south and connecting from an upper tramway to the area by the large draw kilns is an inclined plane. The difference in height may have allowed for a gravity-powered system and there is a platform to the upper end of the incline which may have formerly supported a drum house. Stone from the larger quarries was carried in wagons via the inclined plane to the two substantial draw kilns. These take advantage of the slope of the land in their construction and are built into the hillside. They stand up to 10m high and have a rubble lining and circular opening to the top which are about 2m in diameter. The base of each kiln is funnel shaped with two draw holes which are approached by a pair of vaulted tunnels. The body of the western kiln is completely filled, although the tunnels and draw holes are not blocked. The east kiln has been partially excavated and this latter has draw-hole tunnels whose entrances are partially blocked. Both kilns have retaining walls built to the side of the downward slope. Both are buttressed and the eastern kiln has a tramway bridge abutted to it and set in front. Fence posts and track or road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them 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:


Shropshire County Council, MSA 2617,


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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