Ancient Monuments

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Site of Stoupe Brow alum works, 210m south east of Stoupe Bank Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4153 / 54°24'55"N

Longitude: -0.5232 / 0°31'23"W

OS Eastings: 495936.270358

OS Northings: 503209.352587

OS Grid: NZ959032

Mapcode National: GBR SKSD.J0

Mapcode Global: WHGBC.Y910

Entry Name: Site of Stoupe Brow alum works, 210m south east of Stoupe Bank Farm

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018145

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29546

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Fylingdales

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Ravenscar St Hilda

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of an alum house and
associated works. The monument is located in a broad gulley on the cliff edge
2km south of Robin Hood's Bay.
The alum works were built on a series of level terraces. The stream flowing
through the monument, known as the Slam Gutter, has been culverted along its
entire length and runs beneath part of the works. It is thought that the flow
of water was used in the alum processing. At the base of the gulley, over the
Slam Gutter, are the earthwork remains of settling tanks and steeping pits. To
the south and on a higher level are the remains of a rectangular alum house
where roasting of the refined alum took place. Further to the south, above the
gulley sides, is a sub circular tank or reservoir which stored water for use
in the works. Elsewhere in the monument are further earthwork remains of
structures associated with the alum works. The earthworks survive well and in
some places stonework is exposed.
Some raw materials and the finished product were transported to and from the
site by water.
The alum was extracted from shales quarried from the hillside 1km inland from
the alum works. After initial processing at the quarry, material known as
alum liqour was transported either through wooden channels or in casks to the
alum works. The quarries and associated features and remains of workers
cottages now incorporated into a farm are not included in the scheduling.
The alum house operated from 1752 until the 1820s when it became uneconomic.
Alum continued to be produced in the area until the mid-19th century when
the whole of the alum industry in the north east ended.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Alum is a chemical used principally in the textile industry for fixing dyes.
It is not found in a natural state in Britain but can be manufactured from
some types of shale. During the medieval period in Britain alum was imported,
mostly from Italy. Domestic production began in the north of England in the
early 17th century. The industry flourished in the north for 200 years until
the mid-19th century when it was overtaken by new techniques using shale from
coal mining, whilst after 1880 aluminium sulphate replaced alum for most
industrial purposes. The last English aluminium works (at Goole) closed in
1950. Approximately 50 alum sites have been identified in England. Most were
along the Cleveland and Yorkshire coast. Other early sites are known on the
south coast, particularly in Dorset and Hampshire.
Alum works comprise two main monument types: the quarry where extraction and
initial processing took place, and the alum house where final processing took
place. Alum shale was extracted from quarries sited on steep inland hillsides
or coastal cliffs. Initial processing on the quarry floor consisted of
calcination by burning shale in clamps, and the production in settling pits of
alum liquor. The liquor was transported to processing works in sealed casks or
through wooden channels known as liquor troughs. Larger quarries possessed
inclines and haulage gear and sometimes harbour facilities. Stores, workshops
and laboratories can also survive. Evidence of secondary industries such as
epsom salts and iron silicates production is also preserved at alum works.
The alum industry was the first chemical industry in Britain. Its quarries and
works illustrate the early stages of the industry and the technological
advances through the period known as the Industrial Revolution. The alum
industry also offers important information about wider changes in social and
economic conditions during this period. The large scale of the industry's
workings also mean that its remains are today a major component of coastal
landscapes. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional,
chronological and technological range of this class of monument, is considered
to merit protection.

The alum works at Stoupe Brow survive well and significant archaeological
remains are preserved. The monument offers important scope for the study of
the development of the alum industry.

Source: Historic England


Marshall ,G, Plan of Stoupe Brow Alum House, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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