Ancient Monuments

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Medieval or Early Post-medieval Tannery, Scotchman's Copse

A Scheduled Monument in Horley, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.1849 / 51°11'5"N

Longitude: -0.1463 / 0°8'46"W

OS Eastings: 529647.701704

OS Northings: 144488.731936

OS Grid: TQ296444

Mapcode National: GBR JJN.RSH

Mapcode Global: VHGSJ.FG0Z

Entry Name: Medieval or Early Post-medieval Tannery, Scotchman's Copse

Scheduled Date: 7 June 1979

Last Amended: 17 October 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013014

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12757

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Horley

Built-Up Area: Burstow

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Horley

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


The monument in Scotchman's Copse, formerly interpreted as a medieval
moated site, includes an L-shaped broad ditch and the area of land
effectively enclosed between the ditch and the Burstow Stream to the
north and east. The ditch and enclosed area contain the remains of a
tannery dating from the late Medieval or early Post-medieval period.
The tanning of leather was a noisome activity which involved steeping
hides, usually from cattle but also from goats and pigs, in pits
containing an ooze of oak bark, lime and other substances, often for
more than a year. The broad rectangular depression within the
enclosed area of the monument betrays the location of these pits.
Having been preserved by the tannin from the oak bark, the leather
required thorough washing. The L-shaped ditch, which would formerly
have been supplied by water directly from the stream, was used for
this washing process.
Other evidence may be expected to survive: the heads and hooves of the
animals which provided the skins were frequently discarded at the
tanneries, tools used in cleansing the hides of fat may have been
thrown away and offcuts of leather may have been left on the site.
Documentary evidence suggests that the tannery was in use during the
reign of Elizabeth I, during which time Horley had a reputation for
its leather products, and had gone out of use by the late 1700s. The
former tannery has lent its name to the adjoining Tanyards Farm.
The surface of the footpath which crosses the SE corner of the
monument is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath
remains included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The provision of leather, particularly for footwear but also for other
items of clothing such as belts, purses etc., was an important service
industry and the use of the oak bark process spans the period from the
Roman Conquest to the Industrial Revolution. Tanneries are more
frequently found in towns (for example Winchester, Kings Lynn and
Perth) but the industry is thought to have moved away from populated
areas in the 14th and 15th centuries and it is in this context that
the site is perhaps best viewed.
Tanneries of any kind are a rare type of monument, but these
relocated, rural tannery sites have very seldom been identified in the
field. As a result of their rarity, the full range of forms in which
tanneries might exist is not known, but they are characterised by the
presence of series of pits for steeping hides and by a water supply
system for subsequent cleaning.
The example in Scotchman's Copse is important as none other has been
identified in the South-East of England. It survives well, the area
not having been disturbed since abandonment of the tanyard around
1800, and holds high potential for the recovery of a wide variety of
archaeological evidence. The monument can also be tied into a number
of historical references to tanning in Horley.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Surrey: Volume I, (1902)
Dr M Nieke , Note of file 01/12/89,
Manu. held by Guildhall Lib. London, Deeds and Papers Christ's Hospital Estate (Dame M Ramsey gift), Manuscript 13,594 (Parts I and II) ca 1500-1800,
Manuscript held by Guildhall Library, Admissions etc relating to Tanyards estate (Dame M Ramsey gift), Manuscript 13,611 (Guildhall Library, London),
Surrey Antiquity 866,

Source: Historic England

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